If Madeline Cassedy’s teenage self could see her now, no doubt she would be excited to see she’s doing work she’s passionate about and making a positive impact in people’s lives.
Cassedy joined the staff at Lafayette’s Woman’s Foundation last year and is now one of two full-time community education coordinators.
So much of what Cassedy learned at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette while earning her B.S. in Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Wellness concentration, is vital to her day-to-day responsibilities.
She facilitates the key administrative and hands-on elements of the Foundation’s youth education programs, including Safe Sitter, the two-part Puberty Series, and Truth, Facts & Lies.
Flexibility and embracing change
As a freshman at UL Lafayette, Cassedy enrolled in the School of Kinesiology, testing and exploring majors and concentrations, trying to find the right fit. The Health Promotion and Wellness concentration seemed to best fit with her interests and goals, but she was hesitant about enrolling in a 100% online degree program.
It took until her sophomore year before she was ready to get out of her comfort zone.
“I was like, ‘You know, I think Health Promotion and Wellness is where I need to be,’ so I made the switch,” she says. “I just loved it and I just kept going with it.”
As an on-campus student, Cassedy had to find workarounds to fit her learning style.
“I would record lectures so if I wasn’t feeling that great in a morning class, when I did my homework later, I could listen to them and basically do my whole class over again at my own pace,” says Cassedy.
Transitioning to online courses with recorded lectures and assignments she could complete throughout the day did a lot of that work for her.
“I got a good grasp on how to handle online learning and I really fell in love with it,” she says.
Not only did Cassedy appreciate the daily flexibility with online — getting to study when she was in the best mindset for classwork — but Health Promotion and Wellness encouraged a lot of hands-on experience.
“It definitely was very beneficial all around to have online classes to encourage you to get out into the community because not only did we have the internship, but we had other graded activities where we did have to go out into the community,” says Cassedy.
Before she even reached the internship assignment, Cassedy volunteered for a fundraising event, attended a board meeting, and logged clinical hours for a class, “like a mini-internship,” she says. “Having class online helped me to go out during the day and get all these hours in.”
Intern turned staff
Health Promotion and Wellness students can culminate the program with an internship or capstone project. Cassedy chose to pursue an internship with the Woman’s Foundation.
Her internship quickly evolved into a full-time opportunity as the community education coordinator for youth programs.
She first took over coordinating the Safe Sitter course, which aims to train “students 11 and up to become effective babysitters,” says Cassedy.
Safe Sitter includes CPR training, which Cassedy teaches as she earned her CPR instructor certification from the University.
Cassedy also coordinates the two-part Puberty Series — Body Talk, and Birds, Bees & STDs — and Truth, Facts & Lies.
The programs are designed to equip teens with knowledge about their physical and emotional health, to recognize the warning signs of abusive relationships, and how to maintain their personal safety in public and digital spaces.
“Some of the best moments I have as a community education coordinator are when students come up to us after class and they tell us how much they learned from our programs and that they never knew some of the information before, and they genuinely thank us for educating them,” she says.
More than an online degree
The Health Promotion and Wellness program is a tight-knit community with students building strong connections with classmates and instructors.
“I realized very quickly that I would be seeing the same instructors every semester, every year, and so I really did get to know a couple of them. And now I feel like I almost email Ms. Lisa LeBlanc every day.”
Cassedy says instructors reached out to ask if she needed help preparing to take the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam later this month.
“I thought that was really nice to have certain professors reach out to me and have a personal connection,” says Cassedy.
Looking ahead, Cassedy feels optimistic that her skills and interests will lead her to a variety of opportunities in community health education.
“I really like all aspects of it,” says Cassedy. “As long as I am promoting health and wellness anywhere, teaching about it, working with it, I’ll be happy because I love to promote health.”
Are you passionate about helping others lead healthier lives? If so, there’s a place for you at UL Lafayette. Request information today on the B.S. in Kinesiology in Health Promotion and Wellness concentration.