Samuel Marksberry ’21 – As an intern at the Montgomery County Health Department, my main role has been with the vector program. That includes doing mosquito surveillance around the county by collecting, typing, and sending mosquitoes to the state health department in order to be tested for West Nile virus. I’ve also worked with the education side of public health by writing articles about food safety and nutrition for the local newspaper and designing activities for kids at the local health fair. The other piece of my role at the health department is learning the structure and responsibility of how the department influences positive health in the community. I have also participated in food, pool, house, and septic inspections.
My most powerful experiences have been when I tagged along on some of the house inspections. I have observed poor air quality, human and animal feces, stuff piled to the ceiling, or dirt everywhere in a home. These conditions are factors that play into deeming a house unfit for human habitation because they all have a negative impact on health. Through my liberal arts education, I am able to piece together the many components that play into an individual’s health. Rather than just assume some people are, for lack of a better word, dirty, health is more than what can be seen on a house inspection. In my Global Health class with Dr. Eric Wetzel, we discussed that many factors such as education, socioeconomic status, family, and experiences are what make up someone’s health. I have learned that to truly help someone, it is important to practice empathy and understand where an individual is coming from. Helping someone can be tricky at times because it can be difficult to figure out what would be most beneficial to them, but listening and caring make improving someone’s situation less difficult. My experience at the health department combined with my education at Wabash has given me another lens to view the world, a lens that is focused on understanding others.