This summer the Swetland Center hosted its third cohort of interns who were immersed in environmental health and community engaged research, virtually, in Cleveland, Ohio. Due to COVID-19, the internship program was designed to be completely online which allowed for students across the US to join us for the nine-week internship experience. Read below to learn more about each of our interns, what they worked on, and their plans for the future.
MPH Candidate, Epidemiology, Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado
Project: Food Systems Change Fellows (foodNEST 2.0)
What are you planning next after your training experience with Swetland? I am planning on finishing my MPH at the Colorado School of Public Health and then hopefully finding an job as an epidemiologist.
What is one lesson from Swetland you will take into your future endeavors? I will take with me the value of working with community leaders and advocates who understand their community and can make a difference from the inside.
BA Candidate, Environmental Policy with a focus on Public Health, Colby College
Project: Policy Research focused on SNAP in Ohio, COVID & Food Security (foodNEST 2.0)
What are you planning next after your training experience with Swetland? This coming May, I will be completing my bachelor's degree in Environmental Policy at Colby College and pursuing a thesis focused on lead arsenate contamination in Maine's water and soil. After graduation, I will be continuing to develop my career in environmental health through toxins/chemical regulation and advocacy at the government or nonprofit level.
What is one lesson from Swetland you will take into your future endeavors? Data accessibility and translation are key. How we discuss, visually present, and craft our research and policy briefs matters. It's easy to overlook or neglect important statistics and facts if they're not worded or presented in an accessible manner. This was a crucial lesson I learned from my Swetland workshops and preceptors and directly applied to my brief!
BA Candidate, Chemical biology and MPH Candidate, Population health Research, Case Western Reserve University
Project: Building Capacity for Obesity Prevention
What are you planning next after your training experience with Swetland? I'll be finishing up my B.A. in Chemical Biology and my Master of Public Health in Population Health Research at CWRU this year, and entering the workforce after graduation. I'll also be looking into doctoral programs in public health over the next few years!
What is one lesson from Swetland you will take into your future endeavors? One of the biggest things I learned at Swetland is the importance of community-engaged research. It was so interesting to see how community input informed almost every step of the research process for my project, and it really strengthened my belief that the most important part of research (especially in public health) is the specific needs of the community.
BS Candidate, Environmental Sciences and a Minor in Global Health, Culture, and Society, Emory University
Project: Community Engagement and Racial Equity Assessment (Swetland Center)
What are you planning next after your training experience with Swetland? Currently, I'm developing my senior capstone as well as deciding what I want to do for my graduate research, so that's what I have planned next in terms of continued training. I'm planning to do work involving the intersection of climate science, food and water availability, and community health, so I'm excited to take what I've learned from Swetland about interacting with communities as a researcher and apply it to my specific interests!
What is one lesson from Swetland you will take into your future endeavors? There are a handful of lessons I'll take away from this summer and my work at Swetland, but one thing that stands out to me is the idea that nothing exists within a vacuum. Larger structural and systemic imbalances exist whether we want them to or not, and I as a white woman am supported by these systems. A huge part of effectively collaborating with community members involves addressing these inherent power imbalances and doing what we can to even the playing field. Even if that's more convoluted and difficult than just ignoring them and pushing forwards anyway.