Melissa Kelley wears many hats on the UR campus: She is a Health Educator at the Health Promotions Office through University Health Services; and she teaches HLS 216, Peer Health Advocacy I, HLS 217 and Peer Health Advocacy II.
Kelley is involved with Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention of College Students, is a member of the Standing Committee on Alcohol Policy in Education (SCAPE) committee, coordinates health fairs and other health-based events and is the adviser for Voices of Change (VOX), a subgroup of UR Womens’ Caucus that it is involved with Planned Parenthood.
She is passionate about her profession and loves working with students who are striving to be future educators and advocates in the health services and medical fields.
What is your background in health education?
I have a B.A. in Health Sciences and Health Education and a master’s in Human Service Administration. I started my career at Planned Parenthood where I rose from a volunteer, to an intern, to an educator, to finally the administrator of the entire education department. I then worked at Unity Health, where I worked in leadership development and change management. I have also volunteered as a rape crisis counselor.
I hope to get into the Ed.D program in Teaching and Curriculum at the Warner School of Education in the coming years.
What is the most amusing aspect of your profession?
When people find out what I do in this ‘sex business,” they immediately begin asking me questions. I have been pointed out at the mall and even at McDonald’s as ‘the Sex Lady” when people I have worked with in the past remember me. Friends and family text me and e-mail me with questions all the time. I’m glad I can help them and I have a lot of fun and truly love what I do.
What spurred your interest in health education?
My uncle passed away due to AIDS in 1992 and that drove my passion to be an educator and advocate. I was very involved with the AIDS quilt and designed a panel in memory of my uncle and went to Washington, D.C. to see his panel on display.
You are known for having a box of sex toys. How did you acquire them and what do you hope to convey?
I think it is important for college students, through an educational capacity, to be aware of sexual behaviors and what people do. It is important for them to be exposed to these things as early as possible so that they grow to be open-minded and positive about sexuality. Students can certainly benefit from seeing condoms and means of disease prevention however they also need to be able to see that sex is fun and enjoyable while in the confines of being safe. The toys were generously donated by ShowWorld, and I have acquired things over the years that I feel students would be interested in and that would help them become respectful of all different sexual behaviors.
Venkateswaran is a member of the class of 2011.