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Laurel Nelson

Degree: Organizational Studies ('02); Masters of Public Administration ('05)

Career: CEO, Center for Respite Care

How would you explain to the average person what you do?

Imagine that you were hospitalized for surgery or a serious illness.  In most cases, you would be discharged from the hospital with the intent of completing your recovery at home with the assistance of a partner or family member.  Now imagine how difficult that could be without the assistance of a partner or family member? Can you even imagine how this would happen without a home? For individuals, discharged from the hospital after surgery or illness, who are also experiencing homelessness, recovery is nearly impossible.  The mission of the Center for Respite Care is to provide quality, holistic medical care to adult homeless people who need a safe place to heal, while assisting in breaking the cycle of homelessness. Along with medical recovery, we provide intensive case management, individualized to the specific needs of each client to address issues that may be contributing to continued homelessness.  Issues such as substance abuse, mental health and chronic illness. Nearly 70% of the clients that work with us move on to stable placement upon discharge, with connections to community support and ongoing medical care.

How did NKU help you on your journey?

During my MPA courses, it became very clear that non-profit work was the best career path for me.  The Masters of Public Administration program really prepared me for the unique aspects of managing a non-profit organization.

What is some advice you would give to prospective/current students?

I started at NKU as a mostly traditional student.  Quickly, employment and income became a bigger priority.  My advice would be to persevere! As I shifted from a full-time student to a (very) part-time student I kept the end result in my sights.  It took much longer to earn that first degree than most students would experience, but I learned a lot from being employed full time as well.  I could easily apply work principles to school and school principles to work. This enabled me to be a better student and employee.