Public Health

Ashley Parsons

My hometown when I was a student was

Sanford, MI

I graduated in


I studied

Major: Integrative Physiology and Health Science

Minors: Public Health and Psychology

I currently live in

Harrisburg, PA

I am now

Executive Assistant to the Secretary of Health, Pennsylvania Department of Health, Innovation Center

Since graduating from Alma

I attended the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health to obtain my master’s in public health in the field of epidemiology. While completing my degree, I worked on several multi-site NIH funded research studies, including the Long Life Family Study and the Health Aging and Body Composition study, as a data manager. I also had the opportunity to intern at the Allegheny County Health Department. In this position I was able to complete research on accidental drug overdose fatalities in the county, which served as my master’s essay. While completing my master’s essay, I came in contact with the former PA Secretary of Health, who offered me a position as a policy analyst at Pitt’s Health Policy Institute after graduation. As a policy analyst, I was able to make policy recommendations regarding the recently approved comprehensive prescription drug monitoring plan for Pennsylvania and recommendations towards the legalization of medical cannabis within the commonwealth.  

The combination of my internship at the health department and my work as a Policy Analyst lead me to an opportunity to work with the Pennsylvania Department of Health. In February 2015, I accepted a position to work with the PA Secretary of Health and Physician General to change healthcare payment and delivery through innovation. In this position I will utilize my Epidemiological Training and policy experience to support healthcare innovation through data and analytics. While working for the DOH I hope to see through the implementation of a successful prescription drug-monitoring program, assist in creation of best practice models of healthcare delivery for the state, and provide analysis of population health to influence policy change. 

My Alma education

gave me the unique opportunity to explore the field of public health in an undergraduate setting—an opportunity most people do not get until their first year of graduate school. Being able to take classes in community health, epidemiology and statistics set me apart from my classmates upon entering a competitive epidemiology master’s program. I not only had the skills that an Alma education offers, but I also had the confidence that I could be successful in whatever endeavor I set forth in. This confidence was built over my four years at Alma not only through challenging coursework, but also through community involvement, leadership and networking activities. By being a part of Alma’s small community, I was given the chance to see that my actions, whether in the classroom or within extracurricular activities, could have a true impact on the world. Recognizing this ability gave me the drive I needed to purse a higher education and to dedicate my life’s work to public service. 

My favorite place(s) on campus included

Gamma Phi Beta, studying with classmates in the library and getting dinner with friends at Stucchi’s.

My favorite professors(s) included

Dr. Robyn Anderson.

My most vivid/best memory of my time at Alma is

The day I realized that my hard work at Alma amounted to my acceptance and decision to go to the University of Pittsburgh for graduate school was by far my best memory of Alma. This decision was one of the hardest I had made at that point in my life and without the support and guidance of my classmates, friends and professors it would have seemed impossible. When I announced to my sorority where I had decided to go, the room broke out in applause; my professors and classmates showed the same enthusiasm for my decision. This level of support and excitement for my future shown by the people I cared about most in my life meant the world to me.