This summer I am continuing my internship at the Color of Health (COH) as the Public Health Research Director. COH is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in New York City that seeks to provide access to culturally-competent health education, resources, and initiatives to communities of color in the city. The organization aims to mobilize and empower these communities so that they are able to reach optimal health and wellness.
I have been working at the organization for a little over a year now and have found the experience to be inspiring, educational, and fulfilling. I was interested in joining an organization that was committed to addressing health inequities among communities of color while prioritizing the populations’ needs. It is clear that the members of the organization understand that when designing and implementing public health initiatives, the most effective outcomes are produced when the community’s needs are truly heard and prioritized. At Brandeis, I study Health: Science, Society, and Policy, Biology, and Anthropology, and I wanted to find an organization that had an interdisciplinary approach to their public health programs. As an Anthropology minor, I find it important that those implementing public health interventions have a connection with the target communities and make them feel heard and validated. The public health initiatives created by COH are uniquely tailored to each impacted community, with the goal being to mobilize, inspire, and advocate for culturally-competent health care. I have really enjoyed watching how each board member takes lead on their projects with such excitement and passion. The connection they have to their communities is evident in their work.
When I began the internship, my mentor gave me the opportunity to choose a project I would be interested in contributing to. During my time at Brandeis, I have become very interested in exploring the social aspects of infectious disease and why disparities exist among populations. This interest aligned well with my mentor’s expertise in sexual health, so I proposed a project aimed at addressing the disparity in the uptake of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (an HIV prevention medication) among Black women. I am now developing a workshop targeted at healthcare providers to raise awareness of the low uptake rates that exist. I will also be expanding upon this project to further understand why disparities exist in healthcare provided to Black Women in regards to sexual health and HIV.
Another role I have as an intern is contributing to the organization’s social media presence. This includes creating posts and sharing relevant information and content about health-related topics that affect communities of color.
This summer, I hope to apply and integrate what my courses at Brandeis have taught me about public health and the role social determinants have in it. My goal is to use what I have learned to implement a public health campaign that will have a sustainable, positive impact on the community. Through this work, I also anticipate that I will gain a deeper understanding of the scientific process as it relates to research in the social sciences. Overall, I believe my experience at COH will continue to strengthen my resilience and build upon my problem-solving skills, as I expect to be met with obstacles throughout my work. I have found this work to be so meaningful and am loving every minute with the organization.