Don Silas ’24 spent his summer interning at SOAR in Kentucky as a health intern.

This summer I had the great pleasure of returning to a regional non-profit called Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) as a health intern. In this position I once again had the opportunity to help address the health inequalities that afflict the people living in the 54 Appalachian counties in Eastern Kentucky. In the course of working with SOAR I’ve gotten to work with a broad variety of people in the healthcare field from education to social services as I worked with SOAR to collaborate with partners and improve health in the region. I also got to spend a good portion of my time in person connecting with high schoolers from the Appalachian counties as the Appalachian Nursing Academy had it’s maden class thanks to the project work Gastineau ‘23, Witham ‘22, and I did last summer to help address the region’s healthcare workforce shortage. In the later half of my internship I was able to telework. I spent this time addressing health outcomes as the accessibility of fresh foods and high rates of smoking have had detrimental effects on the health of Appalachian people, which I’ve worked to change while working and learning from the people at SOAR. This opportunity would not have been available to me without the ceaseless work of Wabash community members like Drs. Elizabeth Bowman and Philip Coons ’67 and the Global Health Initiative who have made great opportunities like this one available to students, like me, invested in health.