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

Anja Erickson

Student Volunteer


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. 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

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 O'Neill headshot

Tesse Sayen

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


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 Sayen Headshot

Past NMU Student Assistants

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