This past summer, I was given the amazing opportunity to intern at the Center for Adolescent health under the mentorship of Drs. Beth Marshall and Terri Powell. This experience was both personally and professionally rewarding because of the relationships I made at Johns Hopkins as well as for the skills I developed as a researcher.
During my time at the Center, I worked on a project analyzing teen birth rates in Baltimore City. This is part of a larger project involving The Strategic Plan to Reduce Teen Pregnancy in Baltimore City. This plan was created in 2010 as a set of strategies created in collaboration with the Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Baltimore City Health Department, and many sectors of the Baltimore community in order to tackle teen pregnancy. It is now in the process of being updated and so my role this summer was to look at where progress had been achieved and to identify possible areas where work still needs to be done. I did this by looking at large data sets from the Baltimore City Health Department, Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the CDC. My responsibilities included analyzing not only trends of teen pregnancy, but also trends of adolescent engagement in sexual risk behaviors, visits to Title X Clinics, and the proportion of high schools in Baltimore which offer sexual and reproductive health education. My goal was to create a detailed story of teen pregnancy in Baltimore. Twice during the summer, I attended meetings with the city health department and was able to see how my work directly affected the conversation among healthcare workers regarding the update of the Strategic Plan.
By the end of the summer, I was expected to produce a PowerPoint presentation, poster, and research paper which represented my work. These assignments challenged me to overcome my fear of speaking in front of crowds as well as pushed my abilities as a writer. From this experience, I also learned not to accept data at face value and to always ask questions about how the information was collected and to consider how it can be interpreted in many different ways.
In addition to my mentors, the members at the Center, only added to my experience with their kindness and patience. Many were willing to provide insight into their own paths to public health which, as undergrad interested in the field, was greatly appreciated. Lastly, I thoroughly enjoyed the project I worked on this summer and now know that I would like to work in the fields of either adolescent health or reproductive health as future professional in public health.
By: Rosario I. Majano
Rosario Majano attends Cornell University. As a participant in the Diversity Summer Internship (DSIP) Program, she worked with and learned from researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Adolescent Health.