APEx Student Profiles

Alyssa Alvarez

Certificate: Health and Human Rights

Practicum Site: Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health

Practicum Position: Student Research Worker

Where did you find your practicum? I found it on the Field Practice OCP courseworks page

Tell me a little about your practicum and the work you did. I conducted a lead water testing project. I analyzed the NYC Department of Health water quality database and filtered current available data with zip codes of study participants from previous CCCEH studies, looking at study participants and potential exposure levels to lead. Additionally, I engaged with various CBOs, and other community members in the Bronx, Harlem, and Washington Heights neighborhoods and educated on lead water safety and ordered Lead Water Testing Kits.

What made you want to apply to this practicum? I am passionate about advocacy and collaborating with the community and I felt like this was a great way to get some experience doing both, advocating and educating the community on how to be their own advocates as well!

Has your practicum work changed your view of health and human rights? Although everyone is entitled to the right to health, this practicum has reminded me that there is so much more work that needs to be done to ensure that this is applicable to everyone.

How has your practicum furthered your career goals? I was able to develop archival research skills, research implementation skills and conducted policy analysis which I could utilize and strengthen in my future careers. I also formed meaningful relationships with CBOs and other community members which will be a meaningful addition to my personal and professional network.

Has the experience changed or influenced your long-term career goals? My long term career goals involve working with the community to make the environment a more equitable and healthy place to live and this reinforced that goal.

What are some unexpected things you’ve learned? I learned the difficulty of maintaining a good engagement rate! I have learned that even if resources are available, they are only meaningful if the community is informed. So as important it is to be able to provide resources for your community it is just as important to get people informed!

Madeline Pumphrey

Certificate: SSRH

Practicum Site: Turn 2 Us

Practicum Position: Summer 2022 Practicum Student

Where did you find your practicum? The full story is that I had been volunteering with T2U through CSSC in the spring, and then I received an email through the SMS listserv about a fellowship opportunity with them that could be a practicum. I applied, and there was some miscommunication about my relationship with the organization (they weren't directly reading applications, it was someone through Columbia who didn't know I had been involved with the program). Someone else got placed in the fellowship position, and T2U ended up accepting me to come onboard as well as there was enough work for the both of us to support with.

Tell me a little about your practicum and the work you did. I worked with the T2U team to do a couple of different things throughout the summer. I helped organize weekly programming for Open Streets in Washington Heights where T2U partnered with CLOTH and a few other local organizations to engage kids in outdoor activities including yoga, crafts, and sports. I conducted a needs assessment for the program, which involved 12 one-on-one interviews with school personnel to ask about their experiences with T2U in the past year and what they hoped to see in the future. I analyzed the data using Dedoose and wrote up a formal report. I also helped edit the Train the Trainer manual that outlines the organization's mental health promotion and prevention programming and guides others on how to run similar programs.

What made you want to apply to this practicum? I enjoyed volunteering with T2U last spring because I love getting to work with kids and in school settings. I am interested in working in health promotion, and this gave me the opportunity to work in my local community and interact directly with community members to do something meaningful and positive.

Has your practicum work changed your view of health promotion and wellness? It helped me to better understand the ins and outs of running a mental health program and to engage with stakeholders to determine next steps for a well-established program. I don't think it really changed my view, but I am grateful for the learning experiences I had.

How has your practicum furthered your career goals? I feel motivated to continue doing similar work. I have worked with young people and in schools before, and having this experience helped me gain more confidence in my ability to succeed further. I learned a lot about what school-based health programming looks like.

Has the experience changed or influenced your long-term career goals? Not really, honestly. I am ultimately interested in focusing on issues related to sexual and reproductive health after I graduate, and I think this practicum experience was useful in terms of my interests in health promotion community-based work. I think it was a good learning experience overall that will prepare me for future work in a broad sense, but I think other self-reflection and career experiences have helped me more with my long-term goals. This was a good stepping stone.

What are some unexpected things you’ve learned? I gained qualitative research skills by conducting interviews and analyzing the results. I learned about creating codes and writing a needs assessment. I grew better at being adaptable when engaging with the kids and needing to come up with new ways to engage them in the work we were doing. We met as a team each week to adapt our Open Streets plans to better meet different needs, which helped me learn about different programming considerations.

Isabel Slingerland

Certificate: Health Promotion, Research and Practice

Practicum Site: Regeneron

Practicum Position: Graduate Assistant, Global Patient Safety

Where did you find your practicum? I found my practicum opportunity directly through Regeneron’s website.

Tell me a little about your practicum and the work you did. For my practicum I worked with the global patient safety team. In particular, I would investigate health and safety regulations for countries across the world to ensure that Regeneron was meeting their requirements for conducting trials and for administering approved treatments. I spent my final part of the practicum working on a presentation that argued that country specific trials were needed to unveil any nuances in cultural and structural differences between health systems that may impact the efficacy and safety of various treatments in that setting.

What made you want to apply to this practicum? I had not intended to apply for a practicum opportunity with a pharmaceutical company, but I had tried out internships in several other fields and did not want to kick it until I tried it. I wanted to learn more about the inner workings of the pharmaceutical industry to see what may be causing some problems I have had with the industry in the past and see what they may be doing to fix it. This practicum opportunity was also paid and physically located close to my apartment, two things that were important for me in my job search.

Has your practicum work changed your view of global health and safety? This practicum made me more aware of and in tune with global regulations surrounding the research and approval process associated with discovering and administering new treatments. After this practicum I became more familiar with key stakeholders in the process as well as what the pipeline for treatment development looks like.

How has your practicum furthered your career goals? This practicum helped me connect with several great people who have backgrounds in public health. Despite the fact that I will likely not return to the pharmaceutical industry after graduation, I still have made great connections with people who were able to offer me great career advice and support.

Has the experience changed or influenced your long-term career goals? My practicum experience helped me better home in on what industries I want to try to work for when I graduate and helped me get a better idea of what things I find important in the workplace.

What are some unexpected things you’ve learned? Something unexpected that I learned during my practicum opportunity was how vastly different educational curriculums are for those who go into public health and those who pursue pharmaceutical or medical degrees. This practicum made me more passionate about what we can do to bridge that gap and get at understanding all of the ways a person or community may wind up with a health issue and the different approaches for treating it.

Amit Paul

Certificate: Global Health (6 month)

Practicum Site: Instituto de Sexualidad Humana (ISH) at the The Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (UASD) - 3 months; Centro de Investigación Sociedad y Salud (CISS) de la Universidad Mayor - 3 months

Practicum Position: Researcher

Where did you find your practicum? Field Practice: these were Columbia sponsored sites.

Tell me a little about your practicum and the work you did. In the Dominican Republic, I worked at a sexual health clinic. I worked with a database of 154 women with sexual dysfunction and looked at the correlation between these dysfunctions and other variables like, specifically the mental health indicators of depression and ADHD.

In Chile, I was researching the feeling of loneliness of older adults at the end of life. We looked at the relationship between loneliness, death location, cause of death, and primary helper (the person who helped the older adult in daily activities) information.

What made you want to apply to this practicum? I wanted to apply to these practica for two main reasons - to improve my Spanish and my proficiency in statistical softwares. At my practicum, I worked with STATA and SPSS.

Has your practicum work changed your view of public health data science? I think having “hard skills” like knowing how to use data science softwares is incredibly important in today’s public health world. Data is needed to support scientific information so that the information is reliable and evidence-based.

How has your practicum furthered your career goals? I feel like I have a good understanding of the research process now. My Spanish and skills in STATA and SPSS  have improved. I have a better understanding of the type of work atmosphere that fits well with me and the type of relationships I want with my colleagues.

Has the experience changed or influenced your long-term career goals? As I was deeply involved in the research process with my practica, I realized that if I were to do research in the future, I would really want to be in the field gathering data, rather than just being behind the scenes analyzing data that has already been gathered.

Why were you interested in applying for this practicum? I have an interest in the social sciences and mental health. Both of my practica involved a mental health component. I also felt like the work I was doing was valuable as I had the opportunity to draft a scientific article to advance knowledge.

What are some unexpected things you’ve learned? In the free time I had, I learned a lot about myself as a person and what I value. I learned that I like to try new things and go to new places - have new experiences. I learned more about what type of social life I want. I also learned how different cultures instill different worldviews upon people - it was interesting to see the similarities and differences between two Latin American countries as well as compare the cultures with my upbringing in the United States.