MA, Survey Research, 2012
Community Manager, Relay for Life at American Cancer Society
Michele Burge currently works as a Community Manager for Relay for Life at American Cancer Society, Inc. in Rocky Hill, CT. As the official sponsor of birthdays, ACS is the leading health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer, and Relay for Life is the largest single fundraising event globally recognized. Since joining American Cancer Society in 2015, Michele works managing Relay for Life events within Connecticut communities. Michele notes that what she most enjoys on a day-to-day basis is knowing that every day going to work means saving lives and fighting the fight against cancer. From the MPA program to her workplace, Michele uses her public and non-profit management coursework and certificate on a daily basis. In particular, the MPA program also helped Michele learn project management skills that she uses to manage multiple events at a time.
Before entering the MPA program, Michele interned at the Texas State Capitol for a representative from Corpus Christi. Additionally, while earning her Bachelor’s degree, Michele spent two summers doing medical relief work in Mozambique. Michele notes that “Mozambique is where I decided that I wanted to go into public service. Working with a hospital that had to re-use disposable gloves because of a lack of resources in an HIV-stricken area opened my eyes to the simple needs even our own country lacked.” UCONN’s MPA program seemed the most marketable degree for Michele’s interests and thus she applied and enrolled.
Coming into the program, Michele was interested in healthcare policy with the hope of working on the state or federal level for policy, reform or advocacy (whether at a non-profit or government agency). “Once I entered the program and took finance and management coursework, I realized how important and relevant the curriculum for our program has been in providing the skillset we need in all areas of policy and public or non-profit management. I am now a community manager with ACS, which has such a strong voice and impact in affecting healthcare change in Congress, and I am incorporating all of the skills I learned from the MPA and MSR programs into my current job.”
To gain the most out of the MPA program, Michele encourages students to: “ask as many questions as you can, attend seminars, go on the public service trip and make as many friends as you can– they will be the friends and colleagues you keep for the rest of your life. There’s so much to learn and gain from the MPA experience and you will certainly be well prepared for whatever job you take.”