Undergraduate LEAP Scholar Summer Reflection

August 11, 2023

During the summer between my junior and senior years, I completed an internship with Beyond the Pill, a program of the Bixby Center at the University of California, San Francisco. It was exciting to have this opportunity to spend my summer at this esteemed research department dedicated to Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health (MCAH), with the goal of promoting access and equity in contraceptive healthcare and the mission of addressing social determinants of health for underserved populations. 

Over the summer, I participated in evaluating an educational digital tool focused on contraceptive health, which can be utilized on various kinds of tablets to provide contraceptive education. The evaluation process consists of two separate surveys, which are to be conducted separately before and after using the digital tool. By analyzing the pre and post-survey through both qualitative and quantitative approaches, we were able to assess the amount of knowledge participants have grasped as well as identifying the potential enhancements for future improvement.

As an intern on the team, the understanding and explanations I have received have boosted my confidence and equipped me with helpful insights. I was grateful to have enormous support from my supervisor Alejandra Alvarez and established a strong rapport with my co-intern Emily Torres throughout my internship. As an intern on the team, the understanding and explanations I have received have boosted my confidence and equipped me with helpful insight.

This research experience provided me insights into real-world data analysis as well as survey administration with Qualtrics. Combining this with my prior experience as a LEAP research fellow on the Safe Abortion project, I have gained a comprehensive research background, from intensive literature review to data analysis; which I believe are the stepping stones to becoming a future researcher. 

My current goal for improving my research skill set is to continuously explore, whether learning how to utilize various software for different kinds of research and datasets, or enhancing my communication skills through outreach and recruiting process. I appreciate the opportunities to be involved in studies and am enthusiastic about learning and finding solutions for all types of problems that may arise during a study. 

In addition to my summer internship, another remarkable aspect of my summer was a series of workshops hosted by the summer LEAP team consisting of LEAP Program Manager Tina Lu, Associate Director Dr. Cassondra Marshall, and graduate student mentors: Crystal Htwe (expected MPH '24), Sylvia Gin (expected MPH '24), and Gabriela Gonzalez (MPH '23). The topics encompassed cultural responsiveness, community-based practice, life course perspective in action, and leadership training & application. These workshops prepared me for my trajectory towards becoming a public health practitioner postgraduate and introduced me to various theories of public health practices in professional settings. 

My favorite session was the leadership training and application, which taught me how diverse leadership styles can be, with no uniform standard. The activities in each workshop also allowed me to connect with my cohort. I cherished the collaborative moments on the mini-presentations, murals, and all the meaningful discussions we had. This summer has been fantastic and fulfilling for me, and I am looking forward to what the upcoming fall semester will bring to me.

Being a LEAP scholar has given me many opportunities to communicate with those who share the same passion for MCAH, and it was always thrilling to see my changes over a short time of training and practicing. I am excited to announce that I will continue working at Beyond the Pill for the next semester as a research intern and will start volunteering with the California Preterm Birth Initiative as part of my practice experience for my Global Poverty and Practice minor.