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Equihua ’20 Eye-Opening Experience with the Health Department

Artie Equihua ’20 Montgomery County Health Department – My position as intern for the Montgomery County Health Department has provided a surplus of memories along with valuable knowledge and life lessons. The people in which I am blessed to work with day in and day out have shown me the importance of communication and education within all aspects of public health. Through this internship I have learned how to effectively communicate information to people of various backgrounds and learning abilities. We have had to utilize these communication skills while visiting homes of people in unsanitary conditions that need to be educated on how to keep themselves healthy. From an individual who grew up in a clean house thanks to his knowledgeable parents, I have taken a clean and orderly house for granted. My time visiting homes of hoarders, drug addicts, and the ill has humbled me beyond belief. My core values have been altered to tolerate the actions of others first, rather than condemn. This position has opened my eyes to a world that is lacking healthy communication. In fact, it didn’t even take me one week to realize it.

Within my first three days of working, I was assigned to go to the next house inspection with our house inspector. We were assigned a “hoarder house” belonging to a woman whose relative had shown quite concern about the living conditions. It was essential that in cases like this, to be instructed on how to conduct yourself while inside the house. For starters, you must be aware of your eyes, tone of voice, and word choice throughout the duration of the inspection. In case of a hostile interaction with a resident, one must always have an exit plan established for each room. In addition, one must evaluate the condition of the resident. Whether it be stress level, cleanliness, any indicators of mental illness, and many other tell-tale signs of variables that can alter how one should converse with the resident. Within those three days, what truly made me observe the importance of my job was the gratitude and sheer joy the woman from my first house inspection displayed. Within a month, we had provided enough education and assistance that she could then manage on her own, and we were allowed to close her case. Throughout my time with the health department, I have visited multiple houses, food establishments, hotels, and schools, inspecting food, water samples, septic tanks, and even catching and studying the mosquitoes in the area. Working in environments that are uncomfortable and challenging has instilled a sense of pride and devotion to the work that I do to better the health of others.

Another large aspect of my internship involved research with mosquitoes. Each day we would set traps out across the county and collect them each day. The mosquitoes we caught and identified allowed the state to test them for harmful diseased such as West Nile, Zika, Chikungunya and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. I knew very little about mosquitoes at the start; however, I learned quickly. It didn’t take me long to develop a fascination for the fact that the research we were conducting could affect people all over the world. Through our research with the mosquitoes, we were successful in identifying mosquito concentrations in each city within the county. In addition to the capturing, identifying, and analyzing mosquitoes and their population trends, we were also instructed on how to effectively reduce mosquito populations to reduce the biting rate and overall, reduce the rate of disease. These educational lessons enabled me to teach others about mosquitoes and how to combat them.

On top of all of the work involving inspections and mosquito research, I was in charge of making and presenting informational fliers, billboards, radio recordings and health presentations. I have successfully created a plethora of educational presentations, some of which covering local vectors, Medicaid, and Medicare. I have utilized several computer programs to accomplish day to day work such as Microsoft Excel and Photoshop. My position with the health department has allowed me to attend town meetings and local councils that are all attempting to better the community. Each event has grown my confidence when working with people of different professions and with far more schooling and education than I.

 


MITCHELL-SODIPE ’18 EXPERIENCES AN OPPORTUNITY HE DIDN’T THINK HE WANTED

Immanuel Mitchell-Sodipe ’18 270 Strategies – I started my internship at 270 Strategies on the first Monday after finals. It had been a rough semester for me with a brief stint in the hospital and other hardships. I had studied abroad in the Fall of 2016 and upon returning in the Spring, one day President Hess stopped me in Center Hall (mind you, I was running late for a class) to talk about my study abroad experience. We then ended the conversation with his query: “Do you need a job?” Of course, I did! I told him I was interested in doing some political work in Chicago. He told me about 270 Strategies, took my number down, and told me he’d try to set up a meeting with Jeremy Bird – CEO of the company and Wabash alum. Jeremy would be at Wabash for the Celebration of Student Research and I was presenting a paper I wrote for Dr. Carlson’s epistemology class. And though Jeremy couldn’t make it to my presentation, President Hess sat us down at dinner together.

This leads me to my first take away from my internship experience: say, “yes.” Say yes, even if it’s an opportunity you didn’t even think you wanted. To be honest, 270 Strategies was not the type of work I was expecting to do – I was expecting to do a lot of door knocking, grass roots type work – but it was fun and informative nonetheless. Through just talking to different folks at the company, from my supervisor to the COO, I learned about different aspects of political organizing that I never knew before. I also learned how my skills as an organizer could be applied to work in the legal profession and in the consulting industry, and vice-versa. So, if I were to give some advice to a young bright-eyed Immanuel, it’d be this: say yes (even if your Aunt offers you a summer job at a finance firm in New York City).

My second take away is: ask questions. I don’t come from a family of collegiate people – I’m a first-generation college student. I never knew how the whole internship thing was supposed to work out. I thought that interns were there for free labor – kind of like trying out for a spot on a sports team. But my supervisor at 270 Strategies told me something different. The purpose of an internship is to learn how to do a job. I came in with grassroots organizing experience but wish that I asked more and learned more about digital organizing.

I don’t come from a lot of money and frankly, could not have afforded to do this internship if it wasn’t for the Small Business Internship Fund. Because of the funding, I was able to cut my teeth in labor organizing, political organizing, and a marketing campaign.  I hope whoever reads this takes heed of these take aways: say yes, ask questions.


GEIER ’18 WORKS ON MONTGOMERY COUNTY’S S.W.A.T. TEAM

Ben Geier ’18 Montgomery County Health Department – Over the summer I completed an internship with the Montgomery County Health Department.  During my experience, I was introduced to all of the different roles that a public health department plays in the community.  This included food inspection, vector control, meth home cleanup, and more.  Our boss ensured us that every day we would be working, and was consistent in making sure that we always had something to work on.  One major project that the interns worked on was Montgomery County’s very own S.W.A.T. team.

Now I know what you may be thinking and it is not that, this S.W.A.T. team stands for Surveillance of Water and Air-borne Transmitters.  Our role as interns was to go throughout Montgomery County and set mosquito traps.  We would then collect the mosquitos, identify what type of mosquito it is and then send them to the state so that they may be tested for any diseases.  We would perform this multiple times a week, keep detailed records of numbers collected, GPS coordinates, weather conditions, and more.  All data were then compiled to determine optimal areas and conditions for trapping in the future.

Not only were we the S.W.A.T. team, but we were all able to choose individual projects to work on throughout the summer.  Being a pre-med student, I chose to make a very detailed manual for future public health nurses.  The manual would serve as a guide to help in transitioning into a nursing job for the first time. It contained the main policies and procedures that the Montgomery County Head Nurse is in charge of.  It included how to perform communicable disease investigations, professional contacts, immunizations, and more. 

Being bilingual in Spanish and English, I was tasked with translating the community awareness and attitudes survey for Montgomery County.  The survey asked questions about the controversial topic of addiction to both alcohol and drugs.  By translating this survey, we were able to pull data from the large Hispanic population present here in Montgomery County.  This served as a new and efficient manner to incorporate an often overlooked group who actually have a large presence.  This should hopefully assist in the overall well-being of the county.

I can confidently say that this internship benefited me in a plethora of different ways.  It gave me memorable experiences that will be useful as I transition out of college and into the working world.  Thank you, Wabash College and the Small Business Internship Fund for making this internship experience possible.


Doty ’18 Makes a Large Impact through a Small Business

Jade Doty ’18 enFocus – This past summer was an incredible learning experience that I know will hold many benefits in the years to come. I cannot thank the Wabash Global Health Programs, enFocus, and the St Joseph County Health Department enough for guiding me during my internship in South Bend, Indiana. During my stint as an enFocus intern, I worked closely with the St. Joseph County Health Department in the fight against low food access in South Bend. Additionally, I worked with a team of other enFocus interns on a project that consisted of raising funds for a county wide mass CPR training event that will take place in the fall of 2017 and finding the best ways to locate and catalog all Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) in the St. Joseph County area.

During my main project with the Health Department, I did a thorough analysis on all the census tracts in South Bend that were labeled as Food Deserts. In short, a food desert consists of an area where there is an abundance of low income residents, limited amount of food resources, and the spacing of residential living and food resources are far apart. I compiled a report of these census tracts which included the number of residents living below the poverty line, the number of SNAP (food stamp) recipients, Health statistics (such as number of residents with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol), and the average cost of providing food for a household in a given census tract. This analysis held many interesting findings that showed that these census tracts were definitely food deserts and how poor health statistics were the results of this problem. The census tracts held a poverty percentage average of 35.6% (the national average is 14%), an average of two SNAP distributors, per census tract, and health statistics that soared above national averages. I hope that these specific findings give the city information that helps identify the problem of low food access in South Bend and helps them see a clearer way to solving this issue.

After this analysis, I conducted focus groups, researched several case studies, and found recommended next steps for the city of South Bend to take on their fight against low food access. One possible next step I found very interesting was providing a special shuttle system that would provide direct transport to several grocery stores for South Bend residents. I compiled all of these findings into a single 40-page report that I delivered to the Robin Vida, the head of the St Joseph County Health Department, and Samuel Milligan at the end of my internship.

My second project garnered some great learning experience because I had to create a business plan with a team of interns. Myself and two other interns were required to find the best practice to catalog AEDs in St. Joseph County. We believed that if we went out into the city and actually did some hard ground work in high dense areas, we would be able to produce results that would identify whether there is a lack, surplus, or moderate amount of AEDs in public spaces. These results were recorded and will be used to show a sample of the number of AEDs in public areas, which will further the county’s plan on whether to pursue cataloging more AEDs or creating a more strict AED policy for other businesses.

I enjoyed my time and learned a lot while working for enFocus and the St Joseph County Health Department. I was fortunate to work for an organization like enFocus, where the company is small enough to see the ins and outs of all their work from the top down, but still make a large impact with various projects in the St Joseph County area. While working with Robin Vida at the St. Joseph County Health Department, I gained the perspective of how health departments work and how much potential they have to benefit the cities and towns where they are located. Robin was a tremendous mentor, as well as everyone at enFocus. I strongly suggest that the Wabash Global Health Program continues to keep ties with South Bend, enFocus and the various Health Systems in the St Joseph County area. I was blessed to have such a great learning experience and would like to thank the SBIF for providing that experience.


Vedo ’19 Gets Hands-On Experience in South Bend

Nicholas Vedo ’19 enFocus – It is difficult for me to put into words all that I have received from my summer internship with enFocus and Saint Joseph health system in South Bend. My summer consulting project was focused on researching the economic and health effects of countywide smoking bans to help St. Joseph county better strategize for implementing their own ordinance in the future. On the side, I did clinical work in the main hospital campus in Mishawaka. Being Pre-Med, this hands-on volunteer time rooming patients and recording vital signs gave me real world experience that I truly enjoyed.

In addition to all of the great experiences I had working, the group of interns I was with made sure that I had a very memorable summer in South Bend. I made great friends from a variety of other schools. We got together numerous times after work hours to explore the booming restaurant and bar scene of the city. I was also very pleasantly surprised to discover the many outdoor parks and recreational areas in the South Bend city area. I am a runner, so having the opportunity to get outside and tear up some pristine forest trails was wonderful. St. Patrick’s park on the north side of South Bend was my favorite and made for an interesting run since it was directly on the border with Michigan running along the edge of the St. Joseph river. A twenty-minute run took me into Michigan and back again to Indiana.

The work environment that enFocus fostered was one of constant innovation and support. I never felt uncomfortable when speaking up for an idea or looked down upon because I was an intern. The executives of the company treated all of us as equals and made sure we knew that our work was a key part of the company’s function and success. The many employee events we participated in were all enjoyable and beneficial for my professional development. One event I enjoyed in particular was the Meet the Fellows event, where enFocus basically held a banquet with all of the clients and donors they have worked with in the past. The company also invited other high ranking members of the county area to come and network with us. I met many new people that day and learned much from the stories they told me.

All in all, my summer internship was a tremendous opportunity that taught me so much. I am extremely grateful for the work of the Wabash College Global Health Initiative and the funding of the SBIF for making this opportunity available to me.


Woodward ’19 Building Valuable Career Skills at Connecta Corporation

Jared Woodward ’19 Connecta Corporation – Working for Connecta Corporation has been a great experience for me. I’ve been given the opportunity to experience many areas of small business from shop work, to management responsibilities. Being a political science major and a hopeful business lawyer, Connecta has been able to provide me with the whole scope of how the small business operates. With this summer being slower on the political side, I took the opportunity to dive into the business world in order to achieve a better understanding of business.

Connecta brought on two interns this summer due to the amount of projects that were made. The biggest of these and my focus, being a hopeful lawyer, was to update the company quality manual in accordance with the new industry standard revision released in 2016. It has been my job to create a new and updated company manual from scratch to fit this standard. I was told from the start that this would be no easy task as some people make a career out of doing this while I’m attempting to do this in two months; and by being new to the company, I would have to learn a lot quickly. In doing this, I had to first read through the AS9100 Aerospace and Defense Standard and understand it before I started my work. I then had to review Connecta’s old company manual and make notes on what to revise, update, and what to get rid of. With this version of the standard and with the company quality manual being almost obsolete, the company decided to start a new manual from scratch. With this in mind, I have been updating procedures to fit the new standard and writing new ones to meet the standard while reorganizing and assembling the new manual. While it has been no easy task and still a work in progress, it really has brought me closer to the company knowing how all actions of the company work from the manufacturing shop procedure to the management procedure. It has been a privilege to lead and be responsible with a project so challenging, time consuming, and so important to Connecta Corporation that it feels like I have joined the business world. With my interest in business law, this was a perfect starting task and a hopeful first step into my chosen career path. Other day to day tasks and projects have been given to me such as technology management, quality inspection, deliveries, and set up and install of company machines and technology. I’ve also been privileged in this job by being given my own office, free range responsibilities, meaningful and important tasks, and blessed to be able to work in a friendly environment. Connecta Corporation has been a great experience and opportunity for me. I want to thank the Small Business Internship Fund for providing me with this opportunity. I’m so thankful for them allowing me to be able to work in an environment that I know will make me successful.