Practicum Profiles

Brittney Cavaliere

Image of Brittney CavaliereCertificate: Health Policy and Practice  
Practicum: NYC City Council Health Committee; Office of Councilmember Corey Johnson   
Practicum Position: Legislative Research Assistant

Tell me a little about your practicum and the work you are doing.

I’m interning with Corey Johnson, who is the chair of the NYC City Council Health Committee. I’m working with the legislative director to do research on new issues brought to the Committee’s attention. I work to create briefs for the committee to inform them on this issue to know more about what is going on. I’m in the midst of working on a committee report for a new piece of legislation involving medical respite for the homeless. I’ve also looked at needs for School Based Health Centers and health services provided in correctional facilities.

What made you want to apply to this practicum?

I’m very interested in politics and always have been, especially at the local level. I saw this as my chance to see if this is actually the world I want to be in after I graduate, and to see the inner workings. I’ve become more aware that I’d actually like to work outside of politics, but you can’t work outside of the government, pressuring the government, without having any understanding of how the government works.

Has your practicum work changed your view of politics and policy work?

It has more so solidified what I already knew, in that I feel like I could make bigger changes outside the government than from within it. I think you have more of an impact on individual people’s lives outside of the government. I saw that for a number of reasons. The process to get a bill introduced, let alone passed, is so long. Often when bills are passed, they might not be effective — the bill might just be symbolic.

How has your practicum furthered your career goals?

One thing that I’ve been hoping to get out of my public health experience in general is better communication skills. This experience has been really good for me to get a better understanding of how best to communicate to political officials regarding things that they might not know much about, but that are important to the community.

I definitely want to do advocacy work, and I’m starting to piece together what that will look like. It’s important to me to work with marginalized communities to help them find their political voice and advocate for themselves, as opposed to serving as a voice for them. 

Joshun Dulai

Image of Joshun Dulai Certificate: Social Determinants
Practicum: BC Centre for Disease Control
Practicum Position: “Get Checked Online” 2016 Pride Survey Coordinator

TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR PRACTICUM AND THE WORK YOU ARE DOING.

I’m working in the department of Clinical Prevention Services, within the BC Centre for Disease Control in Vancouver, Canada. The team I’m on is the Online Sexual Services team. My project is evaluating a new service called “Get Checked Online.” It is an STI/HIV testing service that was created to eliminate barriers to testing, particularly among LGBTQ folks.

The idea with “Get Checked Online” is you create an account online that asks you a bunch of questions that a physician would ask, and then you print out your own form and you go to a lab yourself. Within a week or two you get your results online, so you don’t even have to call or go in person. Luckily in Vancouver there are a lot of gay men’s health clinics or LGBTQ specific health clinics, but not in all regions. This is a pilot project right now that we hope to scale up so people in rural areas of the province can have access to this kind of service.

WHAT HAS YOUR ROLE BEEN IN THE “GET CHECKED ONLINE” PROJECT?

I’m coordinating the “Get Checked Online” survey. We are asking people about this service to see what they think of it or if they are already using it. I started with a research proposal, then actually designed the survey and created recruitment plan. I looked at the survey they did last year, developed new questions, and hired someone to help collect data. So I even had to interview people, and write rejection and acceptance emails.

HAS THE EXPERIENCE CHANGED OR INFLUENCED YOUR LONG-TERM CAREER GOALS?

Before the practicum I wasn’t sure about wanting work for a larger governmental organization. I could definitely see myself working in an organization like this again, and hopefully when I graduate wit my MPH I’ll be qualified for better pay and more responsibility. My new longer-term goal is to do a PhD. I started talking to people here and realized that I wanted to continue school. I’ve always have an interest in research so I’d definitely go back and get my PhD in a few years.

Ben Greenberg

Image of Ben GreenburgCertificate: HPRP
Practicum: McCann Healthcare
Practicum Position: Patient Engagement Intern

TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR PRACTICUM AND THE WORK YOU ARE DOING.

I work for McCann Healthcare, which is a pharmaceutical consulting firm. My role is Patient Engagement Intern, and I’m working with the Patient Engagement Team to bring behavioral sciences, as well as a public health perspective, to the work that they are doing.

WHY WERE YOU INTERESTED IN APPLYING FOR THIS PRACTICUM?

The job involves primary and secondary research, as well as client contact, which is a pretty amazing part of my practicum. I’m actually in the room, sitting with clients, talking and building relationships with them. McCann gave me the opportunities to present to clients, and we are pursuing one of the ideas I presented to them. I’ll be staying on at McCann to work part time in the fall, and now because of this internship, I have a thesis proposal.

WHAT ARE SOME UNEXPECTED THINGS YOU’VE LEARNED?

When you go into a public health school, you have this stigma of a pharmaceutical company, which is that they just want to make their money and that is all they care about. There are some companies like that, but it is really amazing to actually interact with clients who are always reminding us that patients are first.

HOW HAS YOUR PRACTICUM INFLUENCED OR CONTRIBUTED TO YOUR CAREER GOALS?

My overall career goals are to do something meaningful with my life, and as of right now, I have the opportunity here to do something pretty amazing. Whether it means staying here at McCann or moving toward the non-profit route, I know that public health will be sticking with me for the rest of my career. 

Devon Morera

Image of Devon MoreraCertificate: SSRH
Practicum: Project STAY, Harlem Health Promotion Center
Practicum Position: Research Assistant for Project STAY's Programming for the adult, formerly incarcerated population

Tell me a little about your practicum and the work you are doing.

Project STAY does a combination of education and outreach, and providing free or affordable healthcare to adolescents in the formerly incarcerated population. It is mostly focused on sexual health education and outreach.

What is a specific project that you are focused on?

I’m doing a literature review and looking at past trends from past clients at Project STAY to see what the health care needs and access issues are for the formerly incarcerated population in general. Eventually my supervisor wants to open up another clinic with slightly different services that are focused on the adult formerly incarcerated population. My work is a nice summary of what services this clinic could provide.

What made you interested in this type of work?

I never had thought I would be interested in the formerly incarcerated population, but I’m really glad that I had the opportunity to do this work with Project STAY. There are a lot of different populations that need sexual health outreach. I’m glad I’m able to help do research for a population that has a lot of needs, and I think sometimes people forget that they need help. They are dealing with a lot of stigma. When describing this job to my family, they don’t expect me to be helping the population that I am — but I think it’s really important.

Has your practicum work changed or influenced your career interests?

I have a better idea of what I need to do to help out the populations that need it the most. When I’m looking for a job, I know I want to do research that is helping out the more stigmatized populations and making sure that the work doesn’t create bigger disparities. I’m interested in new media, and although it isn’t something I did on this practicum, getting the practical experience from Project STAY has helped me figure out how to make interventions that will reach more people.  

Cathy Santos

Image of Cathy SantosCertificate: Global
Practicum: Project Concern International
Practicum Position: Monitoring and Evaluating the Njira Project in the Balaka and Machinga Districts

TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR PRACTICUM AND THE WORK YOU ARE DOING.

I’m working with Project Concern International (PCI) in Malawi on their 5-year food-security project funded by USAID. The project is called Njira, which means ‘pathways’ in Chichewa, and aptly captures the essence of the work that PCI is trying to do. Njira works along three pathways to food security in the south, Balaka and Machinga, namely agriculture and income generating activities: health, nutrition and hygiene; and disaster risk management.

My role as a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) intern entails reviewing the project’s indicators and making target projections for the next budgetary year, writing M&E plans for new short-term projects, helping the team streamline data collection, tracking and reporting practices in increase data quality, helping the research team on a group of research projects, and streamlining data collection processes using online platforms.

WHAT ARE SOME UNEXPECTED THINGS YOU’VE LEARNED?

I’ve come to respect just how complex it is to navigate the moral and ethical implications, as well as the unintended consequences in the work that we do. Njira, as well as many other food relief programs in the area, for instance, distribute food rations during the lean season for pregnant women only. This might seem like a benevolent idea on the surface, however, there are reports coming forth from government community health workers that pregnancy rates are increasing during these periods of food distributions. I’ve also come to respect how complex navigating human subjects research in a humanitarian context, like the one in Malawi. It is often times difficult to navigate a project’s research mandates with the realities we see on the ground. Is it necessarily ethical, for instance, to be conducting research on women and children’s dietary diversity when they are starving? It is also incredibly difficult to navigate beneficiary expectations on the ground with project mandates.

HAS YOUR PRACTICUM WORK CHANGED YOUR VIEW OF GLOBAL HEALTH?

I approached this practicum, and more broadly, the field of global health, with a good sense of the complexity inherent in the technicalities of the work and in navigating the moral and ethical implications of the work. Now that I am on the ground, I have garnered a new respect for these complexities. Every decision has repercussions, and those repercussions inevitably reach the populations we try to service.

I am still of the viewpoint that global health work is needed in an increasingly globalized world. A country’s policies and problems do not exist in isolation. Global health work is many times fused with colonialism and carries with it the weight of neoliberalist policies, but part of working in this field is to continuously question, re-examine, critically evaluate, and maybe even resist how these policies are carried out. The world is continuously changing, and so must the field of global health. 

Maddy Schneider

Image of Maddy SchneiderCertificate: SSRH
Practicum: Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS)
Practicum Position: Federal Policy Fellow

Tell me a little about your practicum and the work you are doing.

SIECUS is a reproductive and sexual health organization devoted to making sure everyone has access to information and comprehensive sexuality education. We do a lot more than that, but the overall mission is that everyone has a right to information about their bodies that is medically accurate and evidence-informed.

What is some of the work you have been doing at your practicum?

Reproductive and sexual health is mostly regulated at the state level, so my work has been comparing and contrasting all the different policies in each state. It is a lot harder than looking at just one federal policy. 

How has your practicum furthered your career goals?

In terms of skills that I’ve gained, I spent a month researching the HIV laws in every state. I made a table based on that research that was then included in one of the SIECUS publications. So I have ownership over all of that research, and it is a very big project that I managed on my own. I’m finding that to have project management skills and legal research skills are very beneficial.

I’ve been given so much independence and responsibility in this practicum, where I feel like I’m an employee, not an intern — it has really increased my self-efficacy and my ability to be an adult. I wrote the press release for SIECUS for the Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt decision. I was at the Supreme Court when they announced the decision, which was the coolest experience of my summer.