Cam Brice ’22 — To begin, I just wanted to show appreciation towards Wabash College and Jill Rogers for the opportunity to work for St. Joseph County’s Health Department this summer. I went into the internship with the intent to learn as much as possible about how government and health intertwine in our society. As an individual from Valparaiso, the community of South Bend offered insight into the context of how socioeconomic status and poverty rates impact health in different manners. For example, my role as the GHI intern was to create an action plan for opioid use disorder for the partnership of Drug-Free SJC. I analyzed the demographics and socioeconomic status of the county, then compared the data to similar communities around the United States to find commonalities.

The opportunity to create an initiative for the local county was challenging, but I knew that exploring the literature of opioid use disorder would provide me the resources I needed to structure an action plan to hopefully benefit the community. My goals were centered around decreasing the overdose deaths from any opioid (synthetic and prescription) and to create more awareness to reduce the stigma of opioid use disorder. COVID-19 led to a significant increase of opioid overdoses both locally and nationally, so the importance of lowering the number of related deaths posed a key factor in my action plan. In addition, the increased distribution of Narcan (naloxone) allows for individuals to possess the necessary emergency treatment to reverse opioid overdoses. Overall, my Wabash education allowed for me to critically strategize and perform necessary research to acknowledge evidence-based practices for a community struggling with opioid use disorder.