During the spring semester of my first year at Brandeis, I took a class called Health, Community, and Society with Professor Siri Suh. In this class, we learned about the sociological perspective of health inequality and how barriers and trauma can manifest themselves in physical health. While this concept is seemingly obvious, taking the time to unpack and analyze these trends was one of the most impactful and relevant things I have learned during my time at Brandeis. I was introduced to this concept during my first year, and it continued to present itself throughout my Health: Science, Society, & Policy coursework throughout my time at Brandeis. As a rising senior, I still feel as though health inequality impacts me more and more each time I discuss it in an academic setting.
As someone who has always had access to comprehensive and adequate health care, I did not know how pervasive and complex the issue of health inequality in America is. However, given how important physical health is to quality of life, it immediately became significant to me. I was always interested in the scientific pathway to disease but was never really given the opportunity to reflect on the social and environmental pathways to disease. While not all biological problems are easily solved, it seemed as though society created systems that lead to such problems, and much like biological issues, social factors are also not easily solved. There is, however, so much opportunity for education and prevention measures. I quickly became passionate about finding these effective education and prevention measures and implementing them in my own life.
REACH is an organization that serves domestic violence survivors, and much like physical health, certain groups face a greater risk of experiencing domestic violence. REACH offers services for those who are experiencing domestic violence, but the organization also creates prevention measures in order to better educate the community on how to understand what characterizes abuse and healthy relationships. They use this model of advocacy and prevention that I learned about in my coursework to better inform the community about domestic violence, and I find that inspiring.
During my internship, I interact with a wide variety of people who have had a wide variety of life experiences. From different racial identities and sexual identities to different socioeconomic statuses, it is very important for me to be aware that these differences may exist when interacting with victims. Throughout my training, my supervisors spent a lot of time going over boundaries, proper language, and how to support someone experiencing domestic violence. While I still have a lot to learn, this training has made me much more aware of how to be aware of others’ traumas, and I am able to use this knowledge both in my personal and professional life. This training and internship is an example of the difference proper awareness can make in impacting social structures and community understanding.