Alyssa Lazzerini started on a different path before earning her bachelor’s degree in public health.
“I initially went to another college to get a degree in nursing, but I wasn’t very passionate about it,” Lazzerini said.
With an interest in working with the community, she started looking into public health—the promotion and protection of the health of populations—and found her passion. She researched public health programs and found her home at NIU.
“I transferred to NIU because of their public health program,” Lazzerini said. “It had so much to offer, and I could actually see myself thriving in this field, almost like I belonged there.”
Public health is offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels through NIU’s College of Health and Human Sciences. The college is home to the School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders, School of Family and Consumer Sciences, School of Health Studies, School of Interdisciplinary Health Professions, School of Nursing, and the Department of Military Sciences.
For Lazzerini, getting her start in the School of Health Studies checked all the boxes.
“NIU offered a great track and a variety of classes that sparked my interest in many facets of health,” Lazzerini said. “They offered public health electives, and I felt myself gravitating to those topics.”
In addition, Lazzerini said the practicum class and internship component gave her an advantage when it came time to search for a job.
“I felt like I received a very well-rounded experience in this field,” Lazzerini said. “That was very important to me because it gave me the confidence and ability to connect with other resources in public health and the community sector.”
Today, Lazzerini is the program director for the Boone County Drug Prevention Coalition in Belvidere, Illinois, a nonprofit organization comprised of local law enforcement, government agencies, youth-serving organizations, businesses, churches, parents and youth. The coalition is an evidence-based program that focuses on youth ages 11-18 and their families and has a mission of promoting a lifestyle free from the abuse of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
Lazzerini manages the day-to-day operations of the coalition and makes decisions about how its grant funds are allocated to create effective programs and strategies.
She also is a preceptor for her alma mater, sharing her time and talents with NIU students in the field of public health.
“I love helping others get excited about doing this kind of work,” Lazzerini said. “The students are eager to get started on projects; it’s cool to watch them as they immerse themselves in the workplace and make connections with everyone around them.”
Lazzerini said there is a strong Huskie presence in the field of public health, and it’s not unusual to meet up with alumni.
“Two of my best girl friends are NIU grads that I met in the program, and I’ve also met many NIU grads after college,” Lazzerini said. “It’s great to reconnect with them and to see some of us working in the same field and finding the same passions.”
Go to public health to learn more.
This article was originally published in Northern Now.