APEx Student Profiles


Leslie Alvarez

Leslie Alvarez

Certificate: Health Promotion Research and Practice
APEx Site: Take the Pressure Off, NYC! within the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH).

APEx Position: Summer 2023 APEx Student.
Where did you find your APEx? I found it on the Field Practice OCP courseworks page.

Tell us a little about your APEx and the work you did. During my time at TPO, NYC, I worked on multiple projects and deliverables. I had the opportunity to contribute to the program's grant proposal for the CDC, where I provided resources that analyzed how food and health disparities in Brownsville, Brooklyn, derive from systemic racism, such as redlining.

My first deliverable was a literature review divided into two sections. The first focused on academic articles and journals discussing toxic stress and its correlation to chronic diseases, specifically Hypertension (HTN) and Cardiovascular Disease (CVD). The second section was based on scientific articles highlighting the physiological impact of racism and perceived stress on the bodies of Black individuals throughout the U.S.

Additionally, I developed a draft Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for the program's Hypertension 101 (HTN 101) training, which included a logic model, performance measurement plan, and a data collection standard operating procedure.

When not working on these projects and deliverables, I facilitated HTN workshops and attended community health fairs throughout the Bronx and Brooklyn to increase community members' health literacy, promote heart-healthy behaviors, and encourage treatment adherence.

Has your APEx work changed your view of public health? I wouldn’t say my APEx altered my view of public health; instead, it emphasized it. I have always understood that creating change requires community involvement, but during my APEx, I had the opportunity to witness firsthand how impactful it is to have multiple people working together on a program or project. This is particularly true when these groups include members of the community for which the program or project is intended.

How has your APEx furthered your career goals? It helped me realize that I enjoy, and therefore aspire to have a future position where I can empower marginalized communities and discuss inequities in health outcomes as a byproduct of systemic racism and the medical-industrial complex.

Has the experience changed or influenced your long-term career goals? After completing my APEx, I reflected on the sectors and industries in which I wanted to work after graduation. My APEx also helped me discover my 'non-negotiables' when it comes to finding a workplace.

Why were you interested in applying for this APEx? I was interested in applying for this APEx because of its versatility in projects and deliverables. I aspire to work one-on-one with community members while also having the opportunity to contribute to the development of an evaluation plan.

What are some unexpected things you’ve learned? Something unexpected that I learned was the standard operating procedure for data collection. Though it was quite tedious, I deeply enjoyed the opportunity to enhance my analytical skills and learn how to collect, assess, and apply data to an SOP.

Muhammad Khan

Certificate: Climate and Health

APEx Site: Management Sciences for Health (MSH) Arlington, VA (Remote)

APEx Position: Consultant/Techincal Officer

Where did you find your APExI first found an internship at MSH on LinkedIn in January. I worked as an intern throughout the spring semester. Near the end of my internship, my supervisor and I discussed possibly continuing my role at MSH. My supervisor presented a new project, which aligned with my search for an APEx opportunity. It was an excellent opportunity to stay and do my APEx at MSH.

Tell us a little about your APEx and the work you did. During my APEx, I was a member of the health economics and financing team at MSH. My responsibilities included assisting the team in creating a Medical Device Health Technology Assessment Guide for the Philippines. The project required a comprehensive literature review, reporting, writing for publications and conference presentation of my findings, cross-country comparison analysis, and creating  visual aids to compare various methodologies to streamline the HTA process.

Has your APEx work changed your view of public health? My experience with international public health initiatives has dramatically expanded my understanding. During the APEx, I gained a better understanding of how stakeholders and funders work together to shape public health policies. I now appreciate the intricate complexities and collaborative efforts necessary to bring about meaningful change in public health sectors across different countries.

How has your APEx furthered your career goals? During my APEx, I applied my theoretical knowledge in a real-world setting, which helped me develop practical skills. Through this experience, I was able to build a network and gain professional recognition at MSH, which has strengthened my foundation in the public health sector. This has brought me closer to achieving my career aspirations.

Has the experience changed or influenced your long-term career goals? During my APEx, I discovered various ways to aid people in LMICs. This experience reinforced my aspiration and provided a clearer perspective on the diverse strategies that can be employed to make a tangible impact.

Why were you interested in applying for this APExMy interest in improving healthcare in LMICs aligns with MSH's mission. This experience provided insight into challenges in international public health.

What are some unexpected things you've learned? During the APEx, I discovered a treasure trove of unexpected learnings. The need for an interdisciplinary approach, effective communication across stakeholders, and realizing how data-driven decisions are vital in healthcare policy formulation were eye-opening. I also learned about the adaptability required to work effectively in a diverse team and across different geographical locations, which were valuable lessons.

Colette Kirkpatrick

Certificate: Health and Human Rights

APEx Site: International Rescue Committee

APEx Position: Resettlement Housing Intern

Where did you find your APEx? Linkedin

Tell us a little about your APEx and the work you did. This summer, I worked in the Resettlement Housing division in NYC to ensure and increase access to safe and affordable housing for refugees. I assisted in buying new supplies and furniture for clients as well as helped them more into permanent housing. I also set up meetings with stakeholders, including landlords and brokers, to build new relationships and negotiate housing deals for clients. I completed a review of IRC's current policies and strategies for finding housing and used this to create recommendations for future use.

Has your APEx work changed your view of public health? My APEx work allowed me to really see how interdisciplinary public health is. Although my colleagues might not necessarily classify their work as public health, their work in housing is deeply influential on the health and wellbeing of our clients. I really found value in analyzing housing issues through a public health lens and discovered how all fields of work connect back to public health.

How has your APEx furthered your career goals? Above all, my APEx reinforced my love of people. From my coworkers to our clients, I genuinely feel so much gratitude for sharing my time with such intelligent and caring people. The environment of my APEx allowed me to grow as a public health practitioner and gave me the skills and confidence to work in new or unfamiliar settings. In my future career, I will now be equipped to analyze issues from a public health viewpoint and offer expertise in sectors that do not typically incorporate public health.

Has the experience changed or influenced your long-term career goals? My experience allowed me to get hands-on experience in the field. My public health experience thus far has mainly been in research settings. For my APEx I wanted to challenge myself and step outside the role of researcher into working face to face with refugee populations. The experience helped me to realize that I love working in direct service, as research can oftentimes feel more removed. I hope to continue this work in the future at other non-profits in New York city that are focused on migrant health and housing.

Why were you interested in applying for this APEx? I was interested in applying for this practicum opportunity because of the IRC’s reputation for humanitarian work. Additionally, as an SMS student, I am extremely interested in the social structures and environmental factors that influence health. The position allowed me to explore housing and migration as public health issues and to use what I’ve learned in class about the social determinants of health to increase housing accessibility to refugees.

What are some unexpected things you’ve learned? One key thing I learned from my APEx was you are constantly learning as you go. I came into my APEx nervously, as I have no experience working in housing policy. My supervisor reassured me and explained that working at the IRC is a continuous learning experience. Due to the ever changing nature of our field, it is important to realize that you cannot possibly anticipate and know everything. This became an opportunity for me to practice quick problem solving and learn as I went. Another important thing I learned was persistence. I spent many days calling landlord after landlord, only for them to hang up on me when they found out who our clients were. Even though only 1/100 calls were successful, it still meant that we were able to find housing for one family. It became extremely important to celebrate these small wins and continue working hard.

Rose Monet Little

Certificate: Health Communications
APEx Site: Heluna Health - SisterWeb
APEx Position: Workforce Development Intern 
Where did you find your APEx? Career Services
Tell us a little about your APEx and the work you did. I worked on creating an assessment system to further the development of SisterWeb’s doula birth core competency training program. I launched a system to support the development and evaluation of doula birth training by collecting and analyzing educational curriculums and culturally based birth practices. I collaborated with a software development team, Sisterweb staff, clients, and funders.

How has your APEx furthered your career goals? My experience furthered my career goals by enhancing and applying my skill sets learned in a classroom setting and applying it to the workforce setting. Additionally, I was able to collaborate with various partners to promote community engagement, analytical skills, and evaluation specifically with women’s and maternal health.

Has the experience changed or influenced your long-term career goals? The experience definitely opened my eyes to various administrative positions that are involved in maternal and women’s health that I had not realized before. I am currently open to working in program evaluation within public health to continue to build and sustain community based programs. I was inspired to see that my passions for patient care, promotion of wellness for Black and Brown women, and education were all encompassed into an organization.

Why were you interested in applying for this APEx? I was interested in applying to SisterWeb due to their focus on serving Black and Brown pregnant people within California. I have always been interested in maternal clinical care, but in this position I was able to integrate clinical care practice into an assessment and educational assessment program for doulas. Moreso, I was born and raised in California, so being able to contribute work back to my home state was very special to me.

What are some unexpected things you’ve learned? An unexpected thing I learned was how vital doulas are for pregnant people and their families throughout all the stages of pregnancy. I also became more aware of the discrepancies within doula and clinician interactions when providing support and care towards their client. This inspired to do further research on doula and medical provider relationships in order to address the determinants of health to improve maternal care, especially for Black and Brown women.

Sophie Yagoda

Certificate: Climate and Health

APExSite: New York City, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.

APExPosition: Data collector

Where did you find your APExI received an email with an opportunity to work in data collection addressing tobacco use inequalities.

Tell us a little about your APEx and the work you did. This study monitors shifts in the diverse tobacco product marketplace during the implementation of a retailer density reduction policy. The mission of this research is to collect and analyze the characterized changes in the tobacco marketplace during policy implementation prohibiting the retail and marketing of tobacco products in communities. Our aim is to address the unanswered questions: how the impact on inequities in tobacco retailer density affects communities, how policies have shifted the marketplace for more diverse tobacco or cannabis, what are the stakeholder perceptions of tobacco policies, and what are the associated changes in behaviors from tobacco users.

Collection comprises data on tobacco and cannabis availability and advertising from a large sample of tobacco retailers in 3 major US cities: Philadelphia, New York City and San Francisco. The data collection app, Fulcrum, is used to log field data. We compare observed reduction in tobacco retail licenses with the trends of product availability and variety seen in the three intervention cities. Once data collection comes to an end, we will then analyze the policy’s equity impact on the intervention cities. This will be done through evaluating the relationship between demographic features of neighborhoods, the spatial distribution of tobacco retailers and the products available and marketed.

Has your APEx work changed your view of public health? This APEx work changed my view of public health by seeing how policies have impacted the inequalities in different marketplaces, specifically in the diversity of the products amongst tobacco retailers. Uncovering the elements that play a role in the use of the riskiest products is essential for crafting public health strategies that promote equity. This project additionally highlights the influence of one’s geographic location and shared environment on health behaviors.

How has your APEx furthered your career goals? This APEx will make a difference in the lives of individuals and communities that are disproportionately affected by tobacco-related illnesses. I want to make a similar impact in the realm of access to healthcare and preventative screening for marginalized communities. I want to identify where barriers exist and use methodologies to bridge those gaps. I am committed to expanding the reach of practice-related evidence to health by advocating for evidence-based practices in achieving accessible healthcare. Everyone deserves to have the same and best healthcare and prevention situations that exist available to them as well as access to quality healthcare. I am dedicated to using my skills and knowledge to help make this a reality. Through my work, I hope to empower individuals and communities to lead healthier, more fulfilling lives.

Has the experience changed or influenced your long-term career goals? My career goals center around providing access to services to improve health outcomes for marginalized communities and this experience has further influenced my drive and passion toward these goals. The field of public health gives me the opportunity to ensure that my efforts to improve and protect the rights of all: to have equal access to the best research, medicine, and preventative care. I am passionate about building solutions that support equitable access to screening options, resources, and health healthcare, particularly for individuals most at risk.

Why were you interested in applying for this APExI developed an interest in the social determinants of health and health equity, particularly for marginalized communities. Neighborhood characteristics, such as income level, can influence both the availability of tobacco products and the types of tobacco marketing that are present. As data suggests, tobacco products are not marketed equally across all neighborhoods which can contribute to the disparities in tobacco use rates and related health outcomes. With this study, I hope to aid in identifying how patterns of tobacco use, availability, and advertising, can help identify factors contributing to the disparities in use and identify neighborhoods that may be disproportionately targeted by tobacco marketing. And in the long term, develop interventions to reduce tobacco use in those communities.

What are some unexpected things you’ve learned? This APEx allowed me to travel to two new cities! I love different cultures and the unique elements that comprise any new space. This project allowed me to open my eyes to wanting to experience new places while being able to appreciate and understand the diverse cultural impacts held within different communities.