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Center for Adolescent Health

Center for Adolescent Health Blog

Date: Aug 2016

               rosario intern

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.


This summer, I was an intern for the Director for the Center of Adolescent Health, Dr. Phil Leaf. This was my first research experience, so I wanted to take this opportunity to learn more about research from the inside out and see if I wanted to continue doing research after my undergraduate degree. Currently, I am a rising junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying public health and sociology. I was interested in working at the Center of Adolescent Health because I thought that it would be a great opportunity to use my interdisciplinary skills and apply them to the real world. When I came into the office in late May/early June, Dr. Leaf was in the middle of a project regarding the children of incarcerated parents. Throughout the summer, I helped him with a report, assisted in preparing material for the conference hosted by the Family League of Baltimore, and worked on an independent project that ultimately ended in a poster presentation at The Career, Academic, and Research Experiences for Students (C.A.R.E.S.) Network and Symposium by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

When I started interning for Dr. Leaf, he was in the middle of conducting interviews for his report. His report focused on assessing programs and organizations in Baltimore that provide services for children of incarcerated parents and whether or not they were effective. This report served as a way to look into these services and discuss what should be improved in the future. I accompanied him throughout these interviews and took notes on the significant themes and points that were addressed. We interviewed parents, children ages 15-17, faculty from the Baltimore Health Department, and faculty from the headquarters of Baltimore City Public Schools both individually and in focus groups. After we conducted these interviews, I did qualitative data analysis and coded for common themes. I also did research on specific organizations and programs that were brought up by the interviewees so that we were more familiar with the services that they discussed during the interviews.

Moving forward, Dr. Leaf had to submit a report to the Family League of Baltimore so that it could be presented at their conference, which focused on assessing the lives of children and families of incarcerated persons. Throughout the report, I was responsible for working on the appendix, proof reading the report, and assisting Dr. Leaf with anything that he needed for its publication and presentation at the conference. By helping Dr. Leaf with this report, I learned about the many health disparities that existed in Baltimore, the policies behind helping children and families of incarcerated persons, and other statistics and rates regarding incarceration and health inequity in Baltimore. I have never done research on this population before, so it was interesting to learn about this issue and to be a part of a potential solution. For my independent project, I chose to continue doing research on children of incarcerated parents but also having a more specific focus on a public health issue that has always interested me. Mental health has been a topic of interest since I began taking public health courses, so I wanted my research to focus on children of incarcerated parents and whether or not they were more susceptible to mental health disorders, specifically depression, anxiety, and violence-related disorders. For the rest of the summer, I worked on developing my individual project and produced a poster for the C.A.R.E.S. symposium at the end of July.

Ultimately, my project focused on whether or not arrests occur in the neighborhoods with the most issues regarding the social determinants of health and the implications that this relationship has on children, families, and communities. I wanted my project to have a larger focus on mental health, but I learned that there isn’t a lot of research available about children of incarcerated parents and their susceptibility to mental health disorders. Moving forward, I want to continue my research on similar topics and focus more on mental health. I realized that this research and resource is needed in order to improve the lives of children in Baltimore and across the nation, and I want to be a part of the work that lies ahead. I learned so much about myself, public health, and research this summer, and this by far has been one of the best summers of my life!

By: Leticia Salaza

Leticia Salazar attends the University of Pennsylvania. As a participant in the Maternal Child Health Careers/Research Initiatives for Student Enhancement - Undergraduate Program (MCHC/RISE-UP), she worked with and learned from researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Adolescent Health.


My experience this summer with the Center for Adolescent Health was fantastic, and it is something that I am very grateful for. While I had the amazing opportunity to work with Drs. Beth Marshall and Terri Powell, as my primary research mentors, everyone within the center was incredibly helpful and supportive and played an important role in making my summer experience great.

For my research project this summer, I got to evaluate the implementation of the pilot study of what will be a large-scale implementation of a teen pregnancy program in all Baltimore Clinics with Title X funding. For the pilot study, our teen pregnancy prevention program of choice, Seventeen Days, was implemented in two Baltimore health clinics. I was given the task of evaluating this pilot study, discovering what worked and did not work, in order to inform the implementation of the larger study, which began July 1, 2016. The Seventeen Days program is very unique in that it is a video based and interactive intervention in which girls have the ability to tailor the intervention to target their individual needs. Because of the uniqueness of what we were doing, my work in terms of evaluating the pilot study was very important in ensuring the success of our overall study. Through my work this summer I had the opportunity to visit health clinics in which our study was being implemented and interact with the health educators that would be carrying out our study. I was also able to attend meetings with the various organizations, such as the Baltimore City Health Department, that worked with our center on this study. I got an invaluable first hand look at public health work in action and the multifaceted nature of implementing effective public health programs.

The final aspect of my work this summer consisted of creating PowerPoint and poster presentations as well as writing a research paper. In completing these tasks my research mentors as well as members of the Center were extremely invested in my success. They helped and supported me every step of the way. Through this work I was able to develop my skills as a writer and a presenter. Overall, I had fantastic experience working with the Center for Adolescent Health. The enthusiasm and passion that each member of this center has for public health and improving communities excited me and made me more driven to pursue a career in public health work.

By: Erika Redding

Erika Redding attends the University of Miami. 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.