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Kiesel ’20 Indiana Rural Health Association Internship

Abraham Kiesel ’20 — As an intern for the Indiana Rural Health Association, my first major project this summer was to convert physical screening tools to online tools using RedCap, which is a little more advanced version of SurveyMonkey. The screening tools will be used by Perinatal Navigators of IRHA partnering organizations to collect data about women’s pregnancy history as part of the Healthy Start Initiative. I worked closely with a staff member and was able to teach her more efficient ways of creating screening tools in RedCap. Together, we accomplished about two weeks of work in less than five days.  I have also assisted my supervisor Dr. Amnah Anwar with various tasks, including finalizing two grant reports necessary to continue receiving funding for her projects.

One of her projects funded through grants is the Indiana Rural Opioid Consortium (InROC). At the annual IRHA conference, Dr. Anwar, a fellow intern, and I presented about InROC at our booth. We provided information to health professionals and students. A unique feature of our exhibit was a mock teenager’s bedroom; it contained 13 hidden fake drugs. We had a challenge in which participants searched the room to find as many drugs as they could in 45 seconds. Most participants found only a couple, and this alarmed them. It became a great conversation starter for them to learn more about substance abuse disorder.

In the future, I look forward to additional presentations regarding our mock teen bedroom that we will be bringing to a few hospitals. I am also eager to shadow administrators of Gibson General Hospital–my county’s hospital–to learn more about the administrative side of healthcare. I would like to thank the Global Health Initiative for this opportunity.


Piesyk ’22 Focuses On Improving Public Health Through Community Engagement

Patrick Piesyk ’22 (left) & Patrick Kelly ’21 (right)

Patrick Piesyk ’22 — First off, I would like to thank the Global Health Initiative, Dr. Milligan, and Jill Rogers for providing this wonderful opportunity. This summer, I was fortunate enough to intern for the St. Joseph County Health Department in South Bend, Indiana. For the duration of my internship at the health department, I was also able to participate in a summer program at the Indiana University South Bend School of Medicine. This summer program focused on community health and the social determinants of health. Dr. Mark Fox, the Deputy Health Officer at the health department and Dean of the IUSB School of Medicine, organized and taught the program alongside Dr. Joe Kotva, who is a professor at the IUSB School of Medicine.

In addition to the program, I was able to gain clinical experience by volunteering at the Saint Joseph Health System Family Medicine Center. During my internship at the health department, I have experienced a variety of different things. For my major project, I researched ways to combat obesity while accounting for the social determinants of health such as education, income, food access, transportation, neighborhood, and healthcare. After researching and gaining knowledge from the community health summer program, I wrote a paper that included the obesity statistics for St. Joseph County and the nation, what St. Joseph County is currently doing to reduce obesity, and ways to improve these current strategies. Also, I included ways that other states and organizations across the country have had success in combatting obesity. Overall, I learned that government funding, policy changes such as an increased tax on sugary beverages, and donations are successful ways to combat obesity while considering the social determinants of health.

Along with my research, the majority of my internship has included attending elementary school camps. For the elementary school camps, I would assist in developing daily lesson plans and teaching these lessons. Since I interned for the public health education sector of the health department, our education primarily focused on nutrition, physical activity, mental health, sun and water safety, etc. For a typical lesson of forty-five minutes, we would give a brief presentation that was followed with interactive activities that emphasized the importance of the daily lesson. The summer camps we attended were free, so it was truly a great experience offering health education to students of a lower socioeconomic class.

Additionally, I also participated in a community garden camp for a couple of weeks. At one of the local community gardens, they offer a free children’s camp where they teach the students how to garden fruits and vegetables. At this camp, we would prepare a healthy snack such as watermelon slices, banana wraps, vegetable wraps, and would teach the children about the nutritional value and health benefits from eating these snacks. Every Wednesday afternoon, I attended a community health program, where I learned about the social determinants of health. On July 10th, we traveled to Chicago to see their efforts at improving the public health of the community. On the south side of town, we visited an urban garden which ultimately increased access to healthier food in an urban setting. Overall, throughout this program, I learned that poverty and the social determinants of health are all interconnected to an individual’s health. I also learned that someone’s environment can play a more impactful role in their health than their genetics.

Each Friday during my internship, I volunteered at the Family Medicine Center attached to the St. Joseph Hospital. My responsibilities included sanitizing exam rooms, stocking exam rooms with materials, and even rooming patients to take their vitals. I went through a one-day training for taking vitals such as temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration rate. Additionally, I shadowed nurses and doctors while volunteering at the clinic. I am especially grateful for this clinical experience due to my goal of becoming a physician’s assistance or pediatrician. Again, I would like to thank the Global Health Initiative, Dr. Milligan, and Jill Rogers for providing this internship opportunity this summer!


Martin ’21 Translates For Patients At The Montgomery County Free Clinic

Cameron Martin ’21 — I would like to thank the Global Health Initiative for giving me the opportunity to work at the Montgomery County Free Clinic. Over the summer, I had the opportunity to work as a translator and scribe for the clinic. The Montgomery County Free Clinic helps people who are unable to obtain health insurance and provides free dental and healthcare to these people. A large portion of the population who come into the clinic speak little to no English. Therefore, they require someone who is able to communicate with them in Spanish. Translating for the patients allowed me to be right in the middle of the healthcare experience, where I worked directly alongside doctors, dentists, and nurse practitioners. Having translators or other people who are able to speak Spanish at the clinic helps both medical providers and patients. While working as a translator, I have greatly increased the fluidity and ease in which I am able to have conversations in Spanish. I have had to learn many medical terms and phrases on the job because I have never heard many of these words. Medical Spanish is very different from conversational Spanish and being thrown into the middle of it has made me learn it much faster than I would have any other way. Each day I work at the free clinic, I learn a new word or a new phrase that I did not know the day before. My favorite part about translating is being able to talk to the patients in another language and hear their stories and listen to where they came from. They are always grateful to have someone who will speak to them in Spanish, and they are always helpful when I do not know a word or when something is unclear. I also help do some scribing at the clinic. As a scribe, I worked with the doctor in recording everything that was done during each appointment. This helped the doctors with their charting and allowed them to fully focus on giving care to the patient while I recorded everything. Scribing has taught me to think on my feet and strengthened my listening skills. Things happen fast during an appointment, and I was responsible for making sure it all was written down, and nothing was missed. Overall, my experience at the Montgomery County Free Clinic has been unforgettable. Being able to work alongside health care professionals and help people who would not be able to receive care if the clinic was not there has changed my perspective and outlook on life.


Borland ’22 Behind The Scenes At The Montgomery County Health Department

William Borland ’22 (left), Spandan Joshi ’22 (center), & Alex Rotaru ’22 (right)

William Borland ’22 — My name is William Borland, and for the past eight weeks, I have been an intern at the Montgomery County Health Department. My responsibilities in the office have included the continued development of the Drug-Free Montgomery County (DFMC) website, as well as designated driver and “brew”-master for the vector control unit known as the SWAT (Surveillance of Water and Airborne Transmitters) team. With these roles, I was able to contribute to the pursuit of general health and welfare for the populace of Montgomery County.

One of the responsibilities as an intern at the MCHD is the SWAT team. As interns, our job was to regularly set traps that attracted insects with a special mixture of alfalfa and water that, to the bane of man and beast alike, reeks something awful. Caught mosquitos were labeled to the best of our ability and sent to the Indiana State Department of Health to be tested for various pathogens such as West Nile Virus, Malaria, and Chikungunya. The responsibilities of the SWAT team are an example of how the health department is on the front lines of prevention; the goal is to prevent the spread of infectious diseases rather than mosquito eradication.

My chief role, the development of the DFMC website, has a very similar purpose: prevention. Substance abuse is a topic that is readily discussed and researched, but resources are spread out over the expanses of the internet and tucked away in corners not regularly accessed by the community. My job was primarily to find resources for prevention/education, treatment, and recovery to compile onto an easy to navigate and centralized website. This way, all the services from Montgomery County, the state of Indiana, and the nation, can be easily accessible and easily distributed. The hope that Samantha (the intern coordinator) and I share is that the site will be a tool for emergency responders, law enforcement, and citizens alike to use to combat the ever-growing epidemic that is substance abuse.

My experiences at the MCHD have given me a much broader understanding of public health, and a deeper respect for it. I think a good analogy for the role of public health is to describe the health department as the offense, and any sort of practiced medicine as the defense. When thinking about community welfare and health, we tend to think about the short-term solutions, like getting treated for an infection or dehydration. What we don’t see are the underlying causes of these problems. We don’t see or think about the malfunctioning septic systems or lack of running water. We don’t see these same people working two to three jobs just to stay afloat, and not having the time or the strength to take care of home responsibilities. All of these things are just a portion of what is on the docket for the health department every day. The health department is the offense that provides resources, pushes inspections to identify disparities in living conditions, advocates for correct construction and facilities development and upkeep, and for the monitoring and eradication of hotspots that could lead to communicable diseases from mosquitos. All of these things are done under the radar to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Montgomery county. As we like to say, a good offense is the best defense, and the health department is the offense that works for the community.

Thank you to the Wabash Global Health Initiative for providing the funds and opportunity for me to experience the workings of a prime example of public health at work. I know the goings-on of this summer will contribute heavily as I look to find what my life will lead and am grateful for the lessons and conversations had along the way.


Kelly ’21 St. Joseph County Department of Health Intern

Patrick Kelly ’21 — My internship at the St. Joseph Department of Health has truly been a fantastic experience. I have been able to tackle my own project while also experiencing and observing the many facets of the health department. I would like to give a special thank you to the Global Health Initiative, Jill Rogers, Dr. Eric Wetzel, and Dr. Sam Milligan, for the opportunity to participate in this awesome internship experience.

Communication and Provider List

Patrick Kelly ’21

At the health department, I have been creating a list of local primary care physicians in St. Joseph County. With this list containing physicians, clinics, and contact info, we are hoping to improve communication throughout the local public health infrastructure in St. Joseph County. I have also been researching best-practiced communication methods for different providers and different health departments. Later this year, we are hoping to develop a monthly newsletter from the St. Joseph County Department of Health with updates about health in the county.

School Camps

I have also been able to visit lower end elementary schools with the health department team and give healthy living lessons. Educating young people about healthy living is super important when thinking about the longevity of the community and public health because there is a huge correlation between education and health outcomes in a community.

Community Health Program

I’ve also had a great opportunity to participate in a community health program led by Dr. Mark Fox and Dr. Joe Kotva where we are focusing on the social determinants of health. I participated in a “neighborhood survey” in South Bend of about eight different neighborhoods, and we presented to the class to see the difference in each. We were looking at things like access to education, employment, transportation, food, healthcare, decay, parks, common spaces, and community protection. It was very interesting to see how these factors affected health outcomes. We also noticed big differences amongst the neighborhoods and the disparities in health equity. It was truly fascinating to see how it correlated with life expectancy. We looked at a map of life expectancy and saw a difference of 13 years, but only 3 miles apart, which is super interesting to think about.

I’ve learned that a community plays a huge role in improving public health. It is not just the health department or the doctors, but the community as a whole needs to team up to make an impact. We have also split into different groups to come up with a community need to improve public health, and have the opportunity to present this information to other community members.


Gray ’20 Works With IRHA To Bring Healthcare To Rural Communities In Indiana

Nathan Gray ’20 (right)

Nathan Gray ’20 — This summer, I have been able to continue my exposure to rural healthcare through my internship with the Indiana Rural Health Association (IRHA). As one might guess, the IRHA is focused on aiding the access and quality of healthcare available to rural communities in Indiana. During this internship, the IRHA staff have exposed me to a variety of their different initiatives and have brought me in on tasks and projects that developed specific skills I had identified an interest in cultivating.

Primarily, my work has been on their Crossroads: Partnership for Telehealth grant which is done in conjunction with the Richard Lugar Center for Rural Health. This grant helps provide a telehealth platform that rural clinical sites can use to expand access to behavioral healthcare services to their rural communities. On this grant, I’ve helped with roll out and implementation of the equipment and program at partner sites as well as promotion of the program with potential partners. Additionally, Abraham Kiesel and I will be helping with Community Health Needs Assessments in a number of counties around the state later this summer. These assessments provide important information for provider systems and hospitals about the pressing healthcare needs of their communities. I’ve also been lucky enough to have some exposure to data analysis and grant writing.

My experiences with the IRHA this summer require me to employ an interdisciplinary set of skills and knowledge about health systems that I have gained through my time at Wabash and during other GHI-sponsored internships. In addition to honing and adding to my healthcare professional skillset, I expanded my professional network tremendously through my participation in the IRHA annual conference and partner meetings across the state. I would like to thank the Global Health internship for this opportunity.


Bertram ’20 Helping Pave A New Path For Ohana Software

Jared Bertram ’20 — This summer, I had the opportunity to intern at Ohana Software, a tech startup in Indianapolis. Ohana offers a mobile application designed for internal communication and employee engagement. My primary responsibilities as a Sales Development intern included prospecting and scheduling demos. Working at a startup can be a very rewarding yet challenging task.

Jared Bertram ’20

A startup is a great environment to learn and grow because there is no path to follow; you are helping pave a new and unique path. My team of three interns played a vital role in developing Ohana’s sales and marketing operations. I created and tested new sales tactics, and provided insight on specifics the company could improve on to help accelerate Ohana in the right direction. The freedom of this role allowed me to exercise my critical thinking skills, learn from trial and error, and find solutions on my own. More importantly, it taught me how to fail and learn from those failures. I definitely got my hands dirty and felt the work I did was valued and directly impacted Ohana.

A career in sales is challenging. It takes a unique, and driven individual to push through and have success! My key takeaway from this experience is the importance of building relationships in sales. I was too focused on reaching my sales quota, which caused me to sell the same product the same way. I overlooked all the critical details that actually lead to making a sale. All sales begin with forming a relationship. You must ask the right questions to understand your client and their specific needs. You then offer a solution to their problem, rather than sell a generic product. No product or service is a one size fits all!

I learned a lot about entrepreneurship and sales this summer. I also improved some personal skills such as teamwork, communication, and proactive solution finding, all while making many great connections! A big thank you to Cassie Hagan, Ascend Indiana, and the CIBE for helping me find and fund this internship experience. Also, thank you to Christina Zerfas for being an excellent mentor; I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Ohana Software!


Garland ’20 The Obvious Internship

Colten Garland ’20 — This summer, I had the opportunity to work with Joe Johnson ’11 and his company Obvious Shirts. Based in Chicago, it is a small t-shirt business that makes witty Chicago Cubs-themed t-shirts. I’m very thankful to the CIBE and the Small Business Internship Fund for allowing me to spend my summer here in Chicago working with Joe and gaining this valuable experience. Through my daily responsibilities and discussions with Joe, I’ve gained much more knowledge about what it takes to run a small business successfully.

The majority of my responsibilities are centered around operating the online store. The company is growing quickly, and we have pretty steady traffic on the site every day, so I’m responsible for keeping track of our orders, inventory, and other online-related issues, including making sure any problems are dealt with. I’ve also been able to sit in on meetings with owners of nearby retail stores that sell our shirts as well, and other businesses in the area that interact with Obvious Shirts regularly. During these meetings, we negotiate new orders, discuss where we want the partnership to go in the future, and other similar important business matters. These meetings are nice for me to sit in on because I can gain first-hand experience of the deal-making process and I get to see many of the moving parts that go on behind the scenes in small business operations.

I came to the company at an exciting time. Obvious Shirts is in the process of expanding our reach and our audience. Rather than strictly focusing on Chicago sports, as of late June, we have shirts in several MLB stadiums, and that number is growing. We have been in contact with other major sports teams about potentially selling shirts in more team stores. It’s been exciting for me to witness the growth of the company and help move it forward in the process. Once again, thank you to the CIBE and the Small Business Internship Fund for affording me this opportunity with Obvious Shirts. It’s been an extremely valuable experience, and I’m very thankful for the opportunity Joe, the CIBE, and the SBIF has provided me.


Rotaru ’22 Data in Public Health and Beyond

William Borland ’22 (left), Spandan Joshi ’22 (center), & Alex Rotaru ’22 (right)

Alex Rotaru ’22 — When people hear the term “public health,” most think of vaccines, health inspections, and PSAs that tell you what to do to prevent catching X disease. However, my experience as an EHS Fellow at the Montgomery County Health Department revolved more around the behind-the-scenes side of public health: data. My responsibilities included vector control and inspections – data collection –, plotting public health interventions and subsidized living units into a Geographic Information System (GIS, for short), and making sense of it – data entry and analysis –, and educating the population using the spoken and written word, through two articles, and three posters – acting based on the data.

Vector control involved trapping and identifying mosquitoes to keep the population safe from West Nile Virus. Because we trapped daily, we had a lot of room to experiment and came up with hypotheses and research questions regarding where we would catch the most mosquitoes. Naturally, some of them were unfruitful, yet I feel more confident about making such hypotheses and testing them out in general, now that I have the experience of reaching dead ends before a breakthrough, which will help me in my career as a Chemist.

With GIS, I was tasked with plotting and cross-referencing subsidized homes through the HUD program with public health interventions, in order to identify any sort of vulnerable communities and correlations between different kinds of data. Through this project, I got a glimpse of just how much inter-agency effort is needed in order to maintain the health and safety of county residents. Communication is paramount when it comes to addressing issues in a community, and clearly defining roles and jurisdictions are key to effective collaboration.

On the education side, I wrote two articles – one addressing the community concerns and stigma around a sharps disposal program, and the other on how surveillance is the key to solving public health issues – and created three posters – one on proper sharps disposal, one on using a sharps clipper, and one on reducing the impact and breeding of mosquitoes in the home and community. Writing about public health was a challenge at first, as was creating a poster. It took a lot of patience, trial, and error, yet I feel more confident in those abilities, and I have become more realistic in my expectations regarding how difficult doing something familiar on an unfamiliar topic can be.

All in all, the biggest takeaway of this experience, besides working with data in public health, was that I have had the chance to explore all the different career paths related to public health, and further narrow down my future career path. I am thankful that the Global Health Initiative has offered me such an amazing opportunity, and I hope I will be able to use the skillset acquired through this internship during the school year and beyond.


Wannemuehler ’20: Purchasing Platform Internship

Henry Wannemuehler ’20

Henry Wannemuehler ’20 — Over the past several weeks, I have had the opportunity to work with Purchasing Platform. Purchasing Platform is a small e-commerce procurement company in Downtown Chicago, owned by alumnus David Bowen. While I am only working with Dave and Purchasing Platform for eight weeks, I am still extremely grateful to have received this amazing opportunity. I would like to thank Dave and the Center for Innovation, Business, & Entrepreneurship for allowing me to work with such amazing people in this amazing city. Working in a big city like Chicago was a new experience for me, and I will forever be grateful to all those who were generous enough to have given me this opportunity.

I have done many things for Purchasing Platform. I was told that I would get to do a little bit of everything during my eight weeks, and a little bit of everything, I have done. From sales to marketing to customer service to special projects, I have gotten a taste of how Purchasing Platform operates. From this, I have learned the importance of each department that comprises the company. Though I may not work alongside the same people every single day, by not having a specific title (like the sales intern or the marketing intern), I have learned how essential everyone is to the success of the company.

Finally, this internship has helped me grow my interpersonal and communication skills. Dave and his company wasted no time throwing me on the phones to call their clients, which forced me to learn very quickly. One of the best pieces of advice that I received while working here is to never assume anything. It is better to ask questions and get help if you are unsure, rather than assuming the answer and messing things up.