Double alumnus promotes Real Men Wear Pink Campaign through state public health role
Brad Martin, who earned degrees from the University of Mississippi in 2003 and 2012, is proud to wear pink this holiday season, instead of the traditional red and white.
As a graduate of the bachelor’s program in exercise science and master’s program in health promotion, Martin was well prepared for his role as comprehensive cancer control program director in the Office of Preventive Health and Health Equity in the Mississippi State Department of Health.
His passion for helping others drives him to lead the state in building and sharing resources for prevention and awareness of various types of cancer while raising money for research and prevention through the American Cancer Society‘s Real Men Wear Pink Campaign in his spare time.
“In my full-time role, we do everything in comprehensive cancer control, grant-funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Martin said. “We focus on promoting screening and detection. Then we have a survivorship component where we try to assist caregivers and survivors. Cancer affects individuals of all walks of life, races and socioeconomic classes.”
On his Real Men Wear Pink fundraising website, Martin explains that cancer has affected his family on both maternal and paternal sides.
“Several loved ones have fought and battled various types of cancers in my lifetime,” Martin said. “My paternal Grandma succumbed to colon cancer when I was a child. Breast cancer has recently impacted an extended family member of mine. I have a first cousin that currently battles cancer and I have two uncles that have battled cancer in the past few years.
“Family and friends are both very important to me. I feel like the people I’ve been able to meet through the Real Men Wear Pink platform – it’s a no brainer to try to help in any way I can. When it becomes your family and friends, it is just an honor to be part of it.”
Martin regularly wears his pink shirt, tie and pocket square as one of 22 men selected from the Central Mississippi area to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research and prevention awareness through the American Cancer Society’s annual campaign. Two other chapters operate in the state: one on the Gulf Coast and another in north Mississippi.
He also appeared recently on the “Good Things with Rebecca Turner” radio show on SuperTalk Mississippi to promote the effort.
Martin began his career in public health working with Special Olympics and the North Mississippi Regional Center through hands-on and practicum experience in the Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management while pursuing his exercise science degree. After a 200-hour practicum with NMRC in 2003, he later served about six years in multiple job roles in NMRC’s Batesville, Pontotoc and Oxford facilities.
Martin is a child of the Southeastern Conference, moving from South Carolina to Alabama to Georgia before moving to Oxford in 1995 to attend and graduate from Oxford High School with his sister, Katie M. Twiford. They were reunited again when Martin transferred from Belhaven University to Ole Miss, where Twiford was attending, in 2001.
He credits the warm welcome from then-Dean Linda Chitwood during his recruitment that ushered him into the School of Applied Sciences. He felt the same sense of belonging years later when Allison Ford-Wade toured him around the department’s facilities when he was recruited to the Master of Health Promotion program in 2010.
“I remember meeting with Brad when he was interested in our program,” Ford-Wade said. “He was working full time and was willing to quit his job to come back to school. I was impressed with the commitment to his classwork. That commitment has continued throughout his career at MSDH.
“We have a saying at Ole Miss that ‘one never really graduates.’ Brad has not only maintained a relationship with the faculty at Ole Miss, but also keeps us abreast of happenings at MSDH. He speaks to my classes often and just is the optimal public health professional in our state.”
Martin remains very close to his sister, who graduated in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. She lives in Madison with her husband, Hunter Twiford, who earned a bachelor’s degree in English from UM in 2001.
Martin enjoys spending time with family and friends, exercising, singing in the church choir at First Baptist Church Jackson, sampling Southern cuisine across the South, helping with Young Life Capernaum and attending various sporting events, especially Ole Miss football, basketball and baseball games.
By Sarah Sapp