Kevin Melanson '09 - Athletic Training
Health Care for Haiti
Athletic training graduate works to better the world
It was a simple assignment for a class in leadership and Professional Development: “In one page. Write a tribute the way you would want others to speak of you, your values, your passions and accomplishments.”
Completing that task changed Kevin Melanson’s life.
“It made me realize that all of the things “I would do later’ needed to be started now” he wrote recently to Dr. Linda Platt Meyer, the professor in the Department of Exercise Science and Sport Studies who made the assignment.
“In particular, serving the community to help improve our world.”
Melanson graduated in 2009 with a master’s degree in athletic training. In 2011, he took the first of what would become many trips to Haiti.
“As I got more involved, I realized I wanted to incorporate it into my life, as a sustainable way to help others.”
Today, after a four-year journey that included volunteer and internship experiences, Melanson lives and works full time for St. Boniface Haiti Foundation, a nonprofit organization striving to improve life for poor people in Haiti. The foundation facilitates access to affordable health care, educational opportunities and community development programs.
Melanson is the disaster response coordinator, monitoring and evaluation officer, and spinal cord injury program manager.
“Right now, as part of the response to the devastating hurricane last year, we’re using mobile clinics to bring health care to people who otherwise have little to no access,” he says.
“Many people travel hours, often by foot, motorcycle and bus, to get to a clinic. It could days, weeks, or months to save up that kind of money. The mobile clinics serve 200 to 300 people a day who would otherwise go untreated.”
The St. Boniface spinal cord injury program that Melason manages 70 percent of Haiti.
“Much of the country is not handicapped-accessible, to our program provides medical care and reintegrates people into their communites.”
Meyer Says an athletic training education prepares graduates to work with an active population, but also to take their careers in other directions through courses in emergency preparedness and leadership.
“Athletic training is an excellent foundation on many levels, whether you want to get into the medical field or be a physician or pursue a different profession,” Meyer says.
“In many school districts, full-time athletic trainers are instrumental in the district’s emergency response and administration skills to contribute in a unique setting. Both are components of athletic training.”
Melanson, who wanted to be a doctor before realizing there are other ways to help, says work in Haiti is challenging. But “this is the work I want to be doing even as hard as it can be.”
“Find you interest and find a way to incorporate that into your life,” Melanson advises. “Take advantage of classes. Don’t just complete an assignment for a grade. Be open to new experiences; you never know where they might lead."