MCAH students build skills through summer internships

September 12, 2019

Over the summer, MCAH students developed their leadership and research skills through internships with an organization of their choice. We've featured four student-written summaries of their 2019 internships on our website:  Elle Ford (The Edible Schoolyard Project ),  Sasha Tilles (Maternal and Child Health Bureau at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation, Northern Mariana Islands), Nina Oberman (California Department of Public Health STD Control Branch)  and Gift Kiti (METABIOTA).

Gift Kiti

Gift Kiti, Metabiota

San Francisco, California

This summer, Gift worked as a Data Science and Product Intern at Metabiota in San Francisco. Metabiota is a data modeling and risk analytics company whose mission is to make the world more resilient to epidemic risk. In her role, she validated Metabiota’ s livestock outbreak preparedness index against a large public health dataset using survival analyses, regressions, and the correlation matrices in R. She also compiled a literature review on the economic impacts of infectious disease outbreaks, and contributed to the biweekly publication of infectious disease news, which was sent out to the Metabiota partners and displayed online.

For the Government Programs team, Gift conducted key informant interviews for the global PREDICT and MCAH programs (among others), then consolidated the findings into a recommendations report for areas of strategic growth and technology integration. Through this internship, her R skills improved tremendously.  She learned a lot about opportunities in healthcare through lunch meetings and interviews, but most importantly, enjoyed and appreciated the kind and supportive people with whom she worked. 


NIna Oberman

Nina Oberman, California Department of Public Health STD Control Branch

Richmond, California

Over the summer, Nina worked at the California Department of Public Health’s Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) Control Branch, where she supported the evaluation of several projects related to adolescent sexual health and STD prevention in California. She analyzed data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention School Health Profiles Survey to evaluate the implementation of the California Healthy Youth Act in California middle and high Schools. Nina mapped criteria from the law to school health education policies, and developed visualizations of the results. Inspired by this work, she collaborated with partners in the field of sexual health education to create a statewide database of current sex education curricula in California public school districts and charter schools. Nina will be presenting the results of this work at the next quarterly meeting of the Adolescent Sexual Health Working Group.

In addition, Nina analyzed a multi-year dataset from the California Condom Access Project and developed a 7-year summary of the project impact on teens’ access to condoms in the state. She also worked on the evaluation of a quality improvement project for adolescent chlamydia screening in primary care practices, conducting key informant interviews with providers who participated in the pilot project. 

Sasha Tilles

Sasha Tilles, Maternal and Child Health Bureau at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation

Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands

Over the summer, Sasha Tilles interned at the Maternal and Child Health Bureau at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation (CHCC) in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands. The goal of her project was to understand the contraceptive preferences and decision making of women in the Northern Mariana Islands participating in the Title X Family Planning Program. She conducted chart reviews for contraceptive counseling and decision making, traveled to two other islands in the Northern Mariana Islands to meet with program staff, shadowed providers in the CHCC Women’s Clinic and Children’s Clinic to observe provider interactions, and participated in teen health clinic planning meetings to further expand access for adolescents.

Sasha enjoyed the ability to see both the programmatic planning side of the Family Planning Program through mentorship in the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, as well as the clinical implications of the program through her experiences shadowing providers. She was able to present the findings of her project to the Maternal and Child Health Bureau staff, the Women’s and Children’s Clinics' clinical staff, and the CHCC executive leadership at the end of the summer.

 Elle Ford

Elle Ford, The Edible Schoolyard Project

Berkeley, California

Over the summer, Elle worked at the Edible Schoolyard Project, a Berkeley non-profit that teaches youth about food and health through hands on cooking and gardening classes. she worked on several projects including the development of a health and food education curriculum for Berkeley High School’s Career Technical Education Public and Community Health class.. This curriculum helps students explore food systems and public health and find agency as changemakers to help build a healthier community. She also co-facilitated a Summer Youth Urban Farming Internship for high school students.

This was a hands-on internship that incorporated garden and cooking classes, field trips, building projects and lessons on herbal medicine. The program explored themes of access, youth development, healing, agroecology and social justice. In her time with the Edible Schoolyard she also gained experience in data analysis, developing social media content, writing samples for the organization’s use in future grant proposals, and co-facilitating a professional development training for other educators. The internship was an overwhelmingly rewarding experience for Elle because of the hands-on learning approach set forth for the youth, the organization’s mission, and the many professional connections made during her time with the Edible Schoolyard.