Jessica Saad’s academic career at UMass Lowell started down one path and eventually went in a different direction.
“For a long time I considered the field of psychology as my area of study,” says Saad, who graduated in 2011 with a degree in community health.
“After taking community psychology and health courses, I began to appreciate the chance to make a health impact on a larger scale,” she says.
One day after class, she met with Nicole Champagne, chair of the Community Health and Sustainability Department, to discuss her opportunities as a student. During that meeting, she realized that community health was the right career choice for her.
“UMass Lowell gave me opportunities that allowed me to find my way to a career that really inspires me.”
Through her course work and real-world experiences at Girls Incorporated of Greater Lowell, and as a health education intern at Winchester Hospital’s Community Health Institute, Saad learned early on that community health is essential to improving healthcare.
She says: “Per curriculum requirements, we were given opportunities to work in the community in a number of ways. Class assignments often led us to reach out to professionals who work in the health field.”
All of this helped her land a job as health educator at the Maxwell & Eleanor Blum Patient and Family Learning Center (The Blum Center) at Massachusetts General Hospital. She is responsible for managing all of the patient education materials and putting together requested health information for patients and their loved ones.
“I definitely enjoy my job,” she says. “More often than not, people are genuinely thankful and I can honestly say I feel it makes a difference.”
Saad created and launched a social media proposal and plan that ensures that the social media portals are dynamic and interesting. It’s another way to inform people about science-based health information and Blum Center events – all designed to give people the resources to improve their own health.
She says: “Our goal is to help patients get educated so that they can ask the right questions that will help them stay healthy. One thing I always say to patients is ‘questions are the answer when you are at a doctor’s appointment.’”
Looking back, Saad doesn’t take for granted how much UMass Lowell —and community health especially— helped prepare her for life outside of college.
“I know I got a solid education at UMass Lowell,” says Saad. “Not only did I learn in the classroom, but I was also given quite a few opportunities to work with people in the community employed in the health field. Even after graduating, I don’t hesitate for a second to reach out to my professors for support as I navigate the beginning of my career.”