Cassie Harding’s internship experiences as a public health student inspired her to tackle the big health and wellness challenges facing people in the cities and towns around her.
As an undergraduate student, she worked at the Lowell Community Health Center, where she became passionate about public outreach and directly interacting with people in the community. As a graduate student, she worked at the Greater Lowell Health Alliance on the Greater Lowell Community Health Improvement Plan.
“The internships and practicum experiences were invaluable to me and are ultimately what allowed me to apply all the skills I was learning in my academic courses,” says Harding ’17, who graduated from the Master of Public Health social and behavioral sciences option.
She’s now working on the front line of one of the greatest public health crises of our time, the opioid epidemic.
“I chose population health in my graduate program because I was interested in working on broad issues that can affect the health and well-being of not only individuals, but also families, communities and societies,” says Harding. “This inspired me to pursue options in opioid overdose prevention and mental health research – issues that impact people across the country.”
It was while she was pursuing her bachelor’s degree in public health that Harding began to consider her graduate degree options, discovering the UML bachelor’s-to-master’s program offered to undergraduate students.
“I was able to take graduate-level courses during my senior year,” she says. “I give credit to my undergraduate professors for motivating me to continue my public health education. They inspired me to find my passion and make a difference.”
In her graduate school research, Harding studied the relationship between mental health and opioid misuse and prevention, which prepared her for her career. She learned about Cambridge Health Alliance’s Outpatient Addictions Clinic, which specializes in dual diagnosis, a program that treats both mental illness and addiction.
Harding landed a job there as project manager for the MySafeRx program, a mobile technology platform that integrates daily coaching and supervised medication-taking to increase medication adherence, prevent overdose and strengthen recovery.
“I manage two federal research grants that use the MySafeRx medication adherence monitoring platform as part of an innovative treatment program for opioid use disorder among adults ages 18 to 39 years old,” she says. “I love what I am doing at MySafeRx, because no one else in the addiction treatment field is doing anything quite like it. I get to use a wide range of skills that I learned throughout the Master of Public Health program.”