NHPHA Board Member Spotlight: Melissa Ray

Interview by Jess Barnett, NHPHA Communications Committee Co-Chair

Each month we sit down with an NHPHA board member or a member of the association to chat. For this month's feature, we asked NHPHA board member Melissa Ray to answer some questions for us. If you have an idea for someone, we should spotlight, email Jess Barnett at [email protected]

What is your current role/job title, and where?
My current role is a student. I am in my final semester at Keene State College, where I will be earning a dual degree in public health and dance. I currently work on campus in many roles. My primary position is as a Wellness Ambassador Student Coordinator, where I coordinate wellness programming to promote COVID 19 safety and emotional wellbeing. I also work at the gym as a facility supervisor. I am also an on and off research assistant, working on qualitative research on mental health in students who have been in quarantine or isolation. 

What's been the highlight of your career thus far?
So far, the highlight of my career has been my internship at The Center for Population Health at Cheshire Medical Center. This semester I am interning under Jane Parayil, the public health and emergency preparedness coordinator. Through this position, I have had the opportunity to work with vaccine data analysis, write the Greater Monadnock Public Health Network newsletter, and assist at vaccine clinics throughout Cheshire County. I love working with the community and utilizing the skills I have developed in my classes outside of the classroom. 

Tell me about your experience volunteering on the board for NHPHA and being an NHPHA member. What do you value about the organization?
Recently I volunteered to help with the planning of the annual meeting, which I am excited to help with. Previously, while on the board for NHPHA, I have worked with my fellow board members on revising our mission, vision, and values statement. I enjoyed doing this since these qualities are intrinsic to NHPHA. It also allowed me to work more closely with a smaller group of board members. 

Through being part of NHPHA, I have had the opportunity to learn from professionals in the field. As a student board member, an important part of my role is being part of board meetings. I have learned a lot about the dynamics of boards, the types of decisions being made in the "board room," and what kinds of goals this type of organization has. I have had the opportunity to learn things that I could not possibly learn while in school, and these are skills and lessons that I will value for years to come. 

Who is your personal hero, and why?
I like to view people as unique individuals and collaborators. I don't feel I have a specific hero. Instead, I have important allies I can rely on in times of need and who can rely on me in the same respect. This is the basis for a strong community where collectively, we support each other to achieve goals and be the best version of ourselves that we can be. A person who I see as a particularly important ally is my mother. She has supported me through many difficult times in my life and is someone who I believe models many of the qualities that I hope to embody in my life. 

What is your favorite movie?
My favorite movie is my Moonrise Kingdom, directed by Wes Anderson.

Are you more productive in the morning or afternoon?
I am much more productive in the morning. I am a morning person through and through. 

Do you have any tattoos, and if so, what?
Yes, I have tattoos. I have the eating disorder awareness symbol matching with my best friend, the quote "Some dance to forget" from the song Hotel California by the Eagles in my mom's handwriting. It matches with a tattoo that my sister has, a peace sign, a moon, and stars with an arrow going through it with the words curiosity and hope for my home state of Rhode Island. 

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