Elise Bur



Elise joined Northern Michigan University in July 2020 as the inaugural director of the NMU Center for Rural Health. She has more than thirty years of combined experience working in higher education and the healthcare industry. Elise is extremely dedicated to identifying, understanding and addressing regional health care needs through collaborative efforts. The foundation of her professional success can be attributed to building relationships and partnering with agencies and businesses on initiatives that improve the health and well-being of individuals. Additionally, she is extremely passionate about giving regional residents a voice by sharing challenges and success with local, state, and federal legislators which continues to result in new and on-going support for regional, state and national health-related matters.

Elise Bur Headshot

Jessy DeMarinis, MPH

Project Manager


Jessy grew up in the Chicago, IL, area and was drawn to the Marquette area and Northern Michigan University during her college search process. In 2019, she graduated from NMU with a bachelor’s degree in Community Health Education. She has experience assisting youth with early childhood development and socialization skills and reducing individual and families’ barriers to care. Jessy is passionate about educating and connecting people with resources that strengthen and improve their health and wellbeing. She is excited about developing and contributing to long-term solutions in the U.P.

Headshot of Jessy

Sarah O'Neill

Marketing Director, University Marketing and Communications


Sarah calls Marquette her hometown and NMU her alma mater. After graduating in 2010 with a BS in English writing, Sarah spent time living in both Chicago and New Hampshire. During this period, she worked in marketing roles across numerous industries, specializing in digital content creation and social media management. In 2020 she returned to her Wildcat roots, currently residing as the Marketing Director for NMU University Marketing and Communications. As a member of the Northern Michigan University Center for Rural Health team, Sarah executes all marketing and promotion and assists with outreach efforts. Her lifelong dedication to the region and its people serves as fuel when looking towards the improvement of healthcare in the U.P.

Sarah Headshot

Tesse Sayen

Director, Research Development and Sponsored Programs, College of Graduate Studies and Research


Tesse has resided in the Marquette community for over ten years. Her passion for the success of the local population has been supported through her efforts in fundraising and grant writing. Advocating for the needs of rural health across the U.P. is quickly growing into a dedication; the prospect of positively impacting systems of basic human health needs as well as the individual has really become an exciting opportunity to Tesse. She feels that the U.P. is such a physically beautiful place to call home and helping to improve our regional healthcare system makes for a stronger, more resilient and beautiful community.

Tesse's Headshot

NMU Student Assistants

Emma Delaire

Emma grew up in Gladstone, MI, and is currently an undergraduate student at NMU. She is volunteering at the Center to learn more about rural health and assist with connecting pre- professional students at NMU to the Center. She is a pre-medical student who has experience helping those in need. She volunteered for Pathways when she was in high school and is currently working as a care aide at U.P. Health System Marquette. Emma is involved in the pre-med club and the Student Leader Fellowship Program. Outside of the classroom, Emma enjoys hiking, skiing, and spending time with her friends and family. After graduation, she plans to attend medical school with the hope of returning to the U.P. to provide services and improve the health of U.P. residents.

NMU student Emma Delaire headshot, wearing black shirt on white background, long dark hair

Audrey Svoboda

Audrey is an undergraduate student volunteering with the Center through the Student Leader Fellowship Program. She is a pre-dental student and President of the pre-dental club. Audrey’s goal in volunteering at the Center is to help educate people of all ages about preventative health care, with a particular focus on oral health. Another goal of Audrey’s is to assist in making dental care more accessible to U.P. residents. Beyond academia, Audrey enjoys exploring the U.P., working out at the gym, and reading. Audrey’s future plans include graduating from dental school and returning to the U.P. to start her own dental practice, in hopes of making dental care more obtainable for individuals in need.

Audrey Svoboba headshot, black shirt on white background, long straight blonde hair

Past NMU Student Assistants

Anja Erickson

Student Volunteer - Pre Dental Program


Anja is an undergraduate student at NMU volunteering with the Center to help further its mission and connect the Center with pre-professional students on campus. She is a pre-dental student and President of the pre-dental club. Anja partnered with the Center for Rural Health to help educate over 300 local children on proper oral hygiene practices through fun, interactive, and memorable means. “As a student, I have had a great experience volunteering with the Center. The group is welcoming, compassionate, and dedicated. With their help and guidance, I have been able to develop my program from the ground up.” Though her focus lies on oral health, Anja is passionate about all sectors of rural health. Outside class, she explores the UP's biking, skiing, and hiking trails. After dental school, Anja hopes to return to the UP and continue her efforts to make dental care and oral health education more accessible.

Anja Erickson

Trevor Rupiper

Project Assistant - Graduate Student


Trevor has been a Northern Michigan University student since 2016, and completed his Bachelor of Science degree in 2020. He is currently a graduate student in the Business Department, continuing his studies with an emphasis on the Master of Business Administration discipline. He has a diversified background in agriculture, heavy diesel repair, retail, hospitality, leadership, and other various endeavors. Trevor also enjoys weightlifting, hiking, biking, walking, and various other activities that enhance his well-being. He is dedicated to research and learning, while aiding the Center in achieving and maintaining key objectives. Lastly, Trevor is extremely passionate about advancing educational opportunities that will improve the health of residents throughout the Upper Peninsula.

Trevor Rupiper