Student Spotlight: Melissa Franco

Melissa Franco, MPH student (graduating Summer 2018)

Hometown: Pasadena, CA

Undergraduate school and major/minor: University of California, Davis; Chemistry

Three things you have with you at all times…
I have my headphones, laptop, and my keys, which I constantly misplace!

What are your hobbies or activities when you aren’t studying or working?
Growing up in California, I never had a fireplace. So, I enjoy putting a log on while watching a movie/TV show or reading a book since it is too cold for me to outside anyways. Otherwise, I am either swimming or playing soccer!

What would people be surprised to know about you?
I love to snowboard! I lived in Northern California prior to moving to St. Louis and learned to snowboard about 2 years ago. I would head to Lake Tahoe during the season and enjoy a nice day on the slopes. It’s such an exhilarating feeling going down slope, while listening music and taking in the scenery while snowboarding on the trails. It is truly a mixture of an adrenaline rush followed by a peaceful feeling.

What is a cause your passionate about?
Many of the causes of diseases we see today in our nation are preventable. By focusing on prevention, we reduce spending on healthcare for avoidable diseases that improve health outcomes and quality of life. Therefore, it has been a passion of mine to improve health outcomes through prevention measures and addressing healthcare disparities in underserved communities.

What were you doing before you came to the Brown School?
I was working on understanding the effects of heat illness in farmworkers through the California Heat Illness Prevention Study (CHIPS) at UC Davis. This unique and humbling opportunity allowed me to see firsthand the labor intensive agricultural work that goes into providing us with our fruits and vegetables as well as the dangers of working in extreme heat conditions. This was my first exposure to public health in which I saw how socio-cultured factors influenced health and the importance of prevention measures in reducing heat-related illness in farmworkers.

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