Diversity Summer Internship Program Reflections 

By Ashley Patricia Parra

Beth Marshall and Ashley Patricia Parra standing next to Ashley's research poster

This summer I had the opportunity to intern at the Center for Adolescent Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, specifically under Dr. Beth Marshall. I evaluated outcomes of the U Choose Coalition’s teen pregnancy prevention initiative, which began in 2015. Through the initiative, sexual health education was implemented in middle schools, high schools, and Title X clinics all over Baltimore City. Prior to this program, Baltimore City schools did not have a cohesive health education or sexual health education curricula. My project was focused on analyzing trends in teen birth rates, rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea, as well as changes in sexual risk behavior over time.

Though my background is in psychology, I am so grateful to have been able to do a project evaluating the outcomes of a sexual health education, as I think that this type of curricula is necessary and should be taught in all schools to inform and empower youth. The type of work being done in the Center is holistic, and the researchers and staff there constantly think about centering youth voices and practicing equity. I am so lucky to have been able to work in this type of environment.

After the internship I will begin working for the Arizona chapter of 4-H, a national youth development organization. I believe that everything I learned during my time at the Center for Adolescent Health—what it means to engage with community members in an equitable way, how to revise a mission/vision statement, how to be cognizant of including practices that move towards being a sustainable anti-racist organization, and how to engage with different stakeholders to complete common goals—prepared me for my new job and informed me on the type of conversations that need to be had and questions that need to be asked in order to sustain equitable practices in all of the work that I do.

I really loved my time here in Baltimore. The cohort of DSIP interns all became close friends of mine, and it was so nice to be able to do work together and explore Baltimore and DC with them. I also learned so much throughout my time interning with the CAH, and I am so grateful to the faculty, staff, researchers, community and youth advisory board members who shared their lived experiences and wisdom with me. I am beyond grateful for all of these experiences.