We hired Melanie as an intern during the Fall school semester to help improve how we measure the success of our community, music and mentorship programs for teens and young adults living with cancer, HIV and rare genetic disorders. Melanie recently made a major career change and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Public Health at Boston University. She is super smart, nice and her hilarious sense of humor fits right in at Next Step.
We sat down with Melanie to discuss her experiences at Next Step and to learn more about her career goals once she graduates from BU. Read our interview below!
How did you hear about Next Step and what was it about our mission that interested you?
I first heard about Next Step when Quita, the Next Step Outreach Coordinator, gave a presentation about the organization in my class at Boston University’s Graduate School of Public Health. The class was teaching us about how to design and implement public health intervention programs and I was so impressed by the way Next Step so thoughtfully designed its programs. Also, I had done some work with youth living with chronic illness in High School, and was eager to once again become involved in such a resilient and special community. As a former professional dancer, I immediately connected with Next Step’s mission to utilize music and community to connect and empower young people to express themselves.
What kind of work are you doing for Next Step this fall?
This fall, I have been contributing to strengthening Next Step’s program development methods. My main focus has been on adapting the pre and post surveys taken by Next Step participants to better reflect their experiences within the programs. My goal is that the data from these new surveys will help inform ways in which Next Step can improve and expand it’s positive impact on young people.
How, if at all, has your perspective of Next Step changed now that you’re working behind the scenes in the office after volunteering at our 2019 Summer Campference program?
I entered the Next Step community already knowing that I would feel like a part of a family. It was clear when Quita made her presentation in my class at Boston University that Next Step is built on a foundation of openness and warmth, so that did not surprise me. The way in which my perspective has changed is that, after talking with so many of the young people participating in Next Step programs, I have learned so much about how much our individual experiences and stories shape the way we see and interact with the world. It’s been a good reminder to be more gentle in everyday interactions because we never can know for sure what people around us are experiencing.
Now…a more serious question. What is your guilty pleasure for music?
Melanie at one of our 2019 Summer Campferences: