After taking a few public health classes and establishing a strong connection with faculty, Melissa King realized that helping people live healthier lives is her passion.

“I immediately fell in love with everything I was learning about public health,” says King, who received a bachelor of science degree in public health and now studies health-care management in the master of public health program. “The professors love what they teach and were extremely helpful mentors for me. I have really become passionate about the many different avenues public health entails.”

She took three graduate-level courses as an undergraduate, giving her a head start on her master of public health degree.

While earning her master’s degree, she’s working at the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) at Winchester Hospital, where she’s soaking in all of the information that she can about hospital systems, the U.S. health-care industry and the impact of providing coordinated care to patients.

“Public health professionals provide a safety net, protecting the public from disease and other health issues,” she says. “If we can get society to make small changes around major health problems, we could change the course of many negative health issues.”

As an undergraduate, she played softball for the River Hawks – two years at the Division II level and two years at the Division I level.

“Most people thought I was crazy being a Division I college athlete while knocking off three graduate-level classes because our softball schedule was packed,” she says. “If I did not have the passion that I do for public health along with the support of the faculty in the program, it would not have been possible.”