August 14, 2019
“There’s so much you can do as a political science major you don’t realize until you get out in the work force,” says Jessica Russo '12, who is director of admissions, marketing, and patient accounts for North Adams Commons.
In Jessica Russo’s office, among pictures of Silver, the horse she’s owned since she was nine, is a sign that says “Do All Things With Love.” It’s an important message for someone who works to support the needs of senior citizens.
“I think they’re one of the most underserved populations we have, and they can teach us so much with one conversation,” Russo said.
As director of admissions, marketing, and patient accounts for North Adams Commons, the skilled nursing and rehabilitation center on Franklin Street, Russo, a member of MCLA’s Class of 2012, is responsible for quite a lot. She plans and executes marketing campaigns, enrolls new residents, works on community outreach projects, and more—and her MCLA political science and public policy major is still helping guide her in that work.
As a student, Russo, who grew up in Pittsfield, had a job answering phones at Berkshire Medical Center. Before moving into her current position about a year ago, she was lead certified application counselor at Berkshire Health Systems’ Advocacy for Access, which helps uninsured and underinsured people access health care services. (Berkshire Healthcare Systems, the sister company to Berkshire Health Systems, owns and operates North Adams Commons.)
“Health care policy has always been interesting to me, but there’s a whole social work piece when you’re helping people apply for MassHealth and Medicare benefits,” Russo said. “I’ve always loved to help people from that end. Working here is great because I kind of inadvertently get to do some social work—but I also get to do so much community outreach.”
Learning about health care and public policy at MCLA ended up giving Russo rich context around the work she does.
“There’s so much you can do as a political science major you don’t realize until you get out in the work force,” she said. “I think having that background has really helped me understand health care in action when you look at it from a policy perspective.”
As a student, Russo remembers going to the Women’s Global Leadership Conference in Abu Dhabi with former Professor Petra Hejnova. “I wouldn’t have gotten that experience anywhere else,” she said. “The fact she was willing to do that, take us, and plan a whole class around it was really phenomenal.”
“I think I learned a lot of really great, fundamental things around problem solving, communication, politics, and health care policy. Having a really great, well-rounded education has helped in more ways than one,” Russo said.
Russo’s favorite part of her job? “The fact I can see how directly my work is affecting the people that come in,” she said. “Sometimes, all someone needs is someone to support them, and be friendly, and encourage them. It makes a world of difference in their rehabilitation.”
Are you an MCLA student, alumni, or faculty member? Do you want MCLA to share your story? Please email Creative and Brand Strategy Manager Francesca Olsen at Francesca.Olsen@mcla.edu.