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Published: Monday, September 19, 2011, 12:01 a.m.

Cherish Hart is in the right place

In her job at the American Heart Association, she's helping improve people's health

  • Cherish Hart, the senior community health director at the American Heart Association in Seattle.

    Sarah Weiser / The Herald

    Cherish Hart, the senior community health director at the American Heart Association in Seattle.

Q: How did your name direct your career path?
A: My first name, Cherish, has been my first name my whole life. Cherish is from the Association song, you know the one, "Cherish is the word I use to describe …."
I've always worked in nonprofit or teaching, so I don't know if having a name like Cherish brought me to that type of career, but I imagine it partly did.
Then 11 years ago I married my husband whose last name is Hart, and it was sort of a big deal at the time: Should I change my name?
Then I came to the Heart Association four years ago and now I get all kinds of strange long voice mails from people I had never met who start asking me all sorts of questions, wondering if my name is how I got my job.
To me it made sense to change it. It's a lovely name and why not share it with my lovely husband.
Q: Would you change your name if you could, and why or why not?
A: No I wouldn't. If for nothing else it's a good conversation piece, where I can start talking about the mission of where I work, and of course if I changed it, my husband would be so sad. And even that first name has a whole kind of meaning to it.
The only time it really becomes an issue at work is the spelling of it, especially my email because the words "Hart" and "Heart" are both in there.
Q: If you could choose another career, what would it be?
A: I don't think that I would change careers because I'm working on improving the health of our community, so it's not only energizing, personally, you can see you are making a difference.
I have a degree in educational technical leadership, which can be applied in lots of different nonprofit or true education fields. I have in my mind gone back and forth between the education and nonprofit fields because they are very similar.
Q: How do you know when someone has picked up on the fact that your name is an aptonym?
A: They ask all the time, is that how you got your job? You also just see the look they get on their face like, really, you're kidding, right?
My bosses didn't bring it up during the interview, unless they talked about it when I wasn't in the room.
Q: How do people react to the combination of your name and job? Do they get it? Any funny stories as a result?
A: Actually one of my volunteers, he will tell people by way of introducing me that I'm so dedicated to my job that I changed my name.
Or sometimes when my co-workers introduce me they cut it off at the pass by saying, "You are not going to believe this name, but it's true, so you'll be in good hands."
I didn't even think about it when I wanted to work with the American Heart Association. I did think this was a great nonprofit agency to aspire to.
It's interesting now, of course, everyone asks about it and makes comments, and so often people will want to call me Charity as a first name, though I don't ever consider working at the American Heart Association as a charity. Cherish is much more fitting because we are trying to cherish people's hearts.
What's an aptonym?
It's a name aptly suited to its owner. Read more stories about apt names at www.heraldnet.com/aptonyms.
With this aptonym, the series ends for a third summer in a row. If you happen to know an aptonym or are one yourself, you can still send the name to tgoffredo@heraldnet.com.
Story tags » HealthHuman InterestCharity

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