Melissa C. Mercado-Crespo, MSc MA, a doctoral candidate in the USF College of Public Health, considers herself a lifelong student. However, the culmination of her formal education is near and she looks forward to a spring graduation.
While many things remain to be completed, one thing is set. Upon the completion of her doctorate in community and family health, Mercado-Crespo joins the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Her specific assignment won’t be known until late April, but a two year post-doctoral training program focused on applied epidemiology is guaranteed. In addition to her ‘desk’ job, Mercado-Crespo joins a cadre of more than 3,000 EIS officers who have responded to public health emergencies since 1951. Most recently, EIS officers assisted victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Ms. Mercado-Crespo’s research interests include violence (children’s bullying and youth/family violence), child/adolescent risk behaviors, health disparities, and religiosity and health. “I have been blessed with the opportunity to conduct research in all these areas throughout my doctoral training and hope to be able to continue in my professional career.”
Prevention is what first attracted her to public health. “It is all about primary, secondary, or tertiary prevention; to stop it from happening, reduce its impact, and improve people’s quality of life,” said Mercado-Crespo.
“I love that many of us in public health come from different training and professional backgrounds, and can put our distinct skills to work for a common goal.”
Before arriving at USF, Mercado-Crespo earned masters degrees in epidemiology and communications. As a doctoral student, she received the Greg Alexander Scholarship in Maternal and Child Health and was appointed to the Maternal and Child Health Leadership Training Program. Currently, she serves as a research associate and instructor with the college’s James and Jennifer Harrell Center for the Study of Family Violence.
A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Mercado-Crespo loves to cook. “My co-workers at the Harrell Center can confirm my culinary baking skills!” She adds, “If you can’t get a hold of me, I’m probably at an Italian or Puerto Rican coffee shop having a café con leche and reading a good book.”
At the conclusion of her EIS assignment, she hopes to continue working with the CDC in violence prevention, instrument development, or research and program development related to youth risk behaviors.
But, that is at least two years away.
Two dates in the not-so-distant future are of more importance to Mercado-Crespo—Successfully defending her dissertation titled “The Role of Connectedness and Religious Factors on Bullying Participation Among Preadolescents in Puerto Rico” on March 7 and spring graduation on May 4.