Growth in the Journey:  Thoughts from a CCPH HBCU Intern 

These couple of months have flown by! When I initially began my work with CCPH, I was excited about all of the potential projects the team would undertake, but I had no idea of the significant impact CCPH’s work has on advancing community engagement efforts amongst communities and academic institutions. For instance, can you imagine the opportunity to be a published co-author on an abstract submitted for the 2022 APHA Annual Meeting & Expo, the largest and most influential annual gathering of public health professionals, as an intern? I know, I didn’t. However, with guidance from my preceptor Fatima Guerrab, MPH, CHES®, I was able to gain the technical writing skills needed to work with her and others on the CCPH RADx-UP Team to develop an abstract highlighting a community-engaged consulting service, Office Hours, which the team leads for over 300 CDCC staff and 120 RADx-UP projects nationwide.

As passionate advocates of equitable partnerships, collaboration is valued as a standard practice at CCPH. This was an early observation and I was consistently impressed by the authentic desire and eagerness each member of the team had to support one another. Indeed, the CCPH RADx-UP Team developed an atmosphere of partnership with a contagious spirit. For example, I supported my colleague, Emily Finley, as we created a spreadsheet to track resources for RADx-UP project partners. My colleagues helped me in various capacities as we completed abbreviated training presentations for my final project with CCPH. The presentations were pre-recorded and accompanied by a survey with closed and open-ended questions to evaluate the effectiveness of the training. In all, I believe I was able to contribute to the CCPH RADx-UP resource library, further develop my professional skill set, and support my colleagues, making this internship experience genuinely invaluable!

Lessons Learned 

My time at CCPH has been tremendously impactful for many reasons. While I gained many transferable skills throughout the experience, I grew as a woman and a professional. I learned the importance of professional accountability, showing up for your colleagues, and honoring your commitments. I also learned strategies for better time management, organization, and communication. Above all, I understand the value of mindset in practice. While many public health practitioners have a strong commitment to health equity and social justice, this is not enough. Health equity and social justice need to be a lifestyle incorporated in everything we do if we want to eliminate health inequities – not solely professionally, socially, or in certain circumstances but in everyday occurrences and relationships. The countless lessons ingrained in my heart will help guide me through the transition into adulthood and the real world. 

Moving Forward

As a proud alumna of North Carolina Central University (NCCU), my incredible collegiate experience has led me to this bittersweet moment. As I close this chapter in my life, I can’t help but reflect on the sweet memories, impeccable opportunities (like this internship), and excitement of exploring the upcoming chapters as I see where my journey will take me. During this special time in my life, I plan to continue working to eliminate health disparities and gain more experience in the field before attending graduate school. I hope to use my skills and experience to help improve neighborhood quality and accessibility in low-income communities of color, to move these communities beyond survival, and to equip them with what they need to thrive. Reflecting on my time at NCCU and CCPH, I know I am prepared to handle what the future holds. This chapter has provided me with the expertise to enter the workforce confidently and with the resources, I need to face what I cannot foresee. Thank you for taking this journey with me; I look forward to working with CCPH again!