Kassie Brewster has always had a thirst for knowledge. Born and raised in Russia, she thought she might become a schoolteacher like her grandmother, who stoked her love of reading and learning. On the other hand, both of her parents worked in healthcare, and as a child, she prided herself on her familiarity with medical language, health conditions, and signs and symptoms associated with them.
Kassie has come a long way since those days. The 2017 Healthcare Administration graduate has just received a highly coveted, two-year Center for Disease Control (CDC) Fellowship. How she got to this point is a testament to her work ethic and dedication. Even before arriving in America as a young adult, she had already earned a degree in English. Once here, she became a certified medical coder. “Reading medical records, I quickly grew intrigued about connections healthcare providers were making, as if they were all consulting a single diagnostic protocol for all diseases,” she says. “This was my first introduction to evidence-based medicine: the main principle in healthcare operations in the U.S.”
While she enjoyed the work, Kassie wanted more. A single mother of two, she was working two jobs to make ends meet. “I was looking for a break-through,” she says. “I knew that in order to get different results, I had to do something different. I could not continue at the same pace and expect to achieve something extraordinary. I was overworked, stressed, exhausted, and concerned over the financial future of my children and myself. I knew it was time to take a leap of faith and try to work full-time school into my schedule.”
That led to Kassie’s enrollment at ECPI University’s Virginia Beach campus. Like so many of her fellow graduates, she says it was the best decision she ever made. “The faculty genuinely want you to succeed,” she says. “My program director not only provided academic support and job search guidance, she was there to assist with any possible obstacles that her students encountered. She tries to understand everyone’s personal battles, and always offers help to overcome any struggles in the way of academic success.
“Many of my peers, myself included, secured a job prior to graduation. ECPI equips you with all the necessary tools in the field to become a qualified and desirable candidate. I was fortunate to be hired into a management role prior to graduation, and throughout early stages of my administrative career, I kept receiving compliments on my unexpected expertise on a variety of healthcare subjects, strategic thinking, and overall competence in all matters of healthcare administration.”Kassie Brewster, Healthcare
Virginia Beach Campus
That expertise is most certainly the reason Kassie earned her CDC Fellowship. She has been assigned to the Richmond Health Department’s division that handles maternal and neonatal diseases. “I will be required to develop a public health intervention program, present the results at the annual CDC conference to other fellows, and publish my results,” she says. “This will involve creating a meaningful surveillance program, managing the database, and reporting my findings. Finally, I will then work with a local emergency response team to develop and prepare an emergency public health project. My goal is to use this mentorship time to explore various applications of epidemiology in public health and to apply myself further for the benefit of supporting wellness and improving health outcomes in populations.”
Faculty members at ECPI University remember Kassie as a student who worked extremely hard and was recognized as someone who was going to be very successful. “She always leaned toward public health and epidemiology,” says Healthcare Administration Program Director Dr. Dawn Campbell. “I remember the excitement we all shared when Kassie was accepted into her graduate program. Along the way, Kassie was promoted and continued working hard, always giving her best. It was not really a surprise when Kassie earned her distinctions, but the validation was just that—earned. Congratulations, Kassie—you are a credit to the program and it is an honor to have worked with you!