KOKOMO, Ind. — When Grace Marshall made her college decision, the ability to live at home in Hartford City and commute was a high priority.
Though other schools were closer, she chose Indiana University Kokomo for its major in public administration, which aligned with her plans for a leadership role in a nursing home or health care facility.
“It was the only place that had the degree I wanted to pursue, and it was drivable,” she said. “I really liked the feel of the small campus. Even though I was a commuter, I felt very much a part of the community at IU Kokomo. That’s something I’m extremely grateful for.”
She’s also happy to have landed a job even before completing her degree in December 2021. She serves as tobacco prevention coordinator at the Jay County Drug Prevention Coalition.
“It was a big weight off my shoulders to have a job in my career field before I graduated,” she said. “The timing was perfect. This job has expanded my worldview a lot, and I’m grateful for it.”
Marshall works with local government officials and at schools, providing education on tobacco-free lifestyle initiatives and is currently trying to pass a smoke free air policy in Jay County. She’s found that what she learned in the classroom is already benefitting her.
“I’m seeing how my classes translate into real life,” she said. “One of my classes was in harm reduction, which is what we do at the Coalition. We learned about professionalism and leadership, which has been very helpful as I’m leading people, and working with lawmakers and lobbyists at the local and community level. I’ve used a lot of what I learned in public administration policy.”
Marshall said the public administration degree gave her flexibility when she decided to change focus, working more in the health and wellness sector, rather than healthcare administration. An internship in health and human services at Purdue Extension Blackford County confirmed her pivot, as she enjoyed collaborating with extension staff and state health coalitions to create programming in health and wellness, healthy eating, and food insecurity.
Hyunkang Hur, assistant professor of public management, commended Marshall as a good role model for future PAHM students.
“Grace was an ‘A’ student, but better than that, she worked hard, and her attention to detail and thoroughness made her an excellent student and a pleasure to teach,” he said.
Marshall hopes to continue working in the not-for-profit sector, with the goal of being an executive director in the future. She’s considering preparing for that by returning to school for her Master of Business Administration — but says she wants a break from school first.
She was excited to be part of the campus community one more time, as she participated in the May 11 Commencement ceremony.
“Just to be able to gather with my classmates is something I looked forward to,” she said. “I was excited to be surrounded by everyone.”