EMMETSBURG, Iowa (KCAU) – Meet Melissa Studer. She’s the Chief Aging Services Officer for the Palo Alto County Health System. She oversees the long-term care, community health and hospice, and more.

“I have almost 24 years of experience in healthcare now. I started when I was 14. It is my passion, I love being able to help people when they need help the most, you know,” Studer said.

Studer lives a fast-paced life, and her work with her staff hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“We recently got an employee engagement award for being in the 95th percentile, which is huge. I didn’t even know the award existed. We’re here to make sure our residents get the best care that they possibly can, and I want to make sure that our staff are able to do their job to be able to give that care,” said Studer.

Studer’s staff know how crucial she is to their operations and overall success.

“Every job that she’s had has bettered herself. A lot of people called me with references for her job and my statement was if you had her, you’d be really lucky,” Hospice Social Worker, Kristy Simington said.

Studer’s community impact exceeds the medical field. She took leadership classes at the Iowa Lakes Community College seven years ago and now teaches the next generation of business leaders.

“For me to be able to help share maybe some of my experiences and open up their mind to maybe different things or to try different things. I really enjoy that part of teaching those classes,” Studer said.

“Melissa is the perfect example of the kind of people that we want in class and teaching class because it’s kind of interactive between the trainer and the trainees,” Iowa Lakes Community College Trainer Gary Schmidt said.

When she isn’t teaching college students, she’s managing her own consignment shop. Outside of her store is a mobile pantry, which is just another way Studer tries to help her community.

“I had a friend send me a picture of one and here’s an idea for you and I just kind of ran with it. A coworker and I both stocked it right away and filled it several times since. You know we have the backpack program here and when I look at the church bulletin and see how many pounds of food we go through at our pantry, there’s obviously a need,” Studer said.