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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.

Israel Jurado, a student at University of California-Berkeley studying nutritional science, interned at the Center for Adolescent Health (CAH) over the summer under the direction of Dr. Terri Powell. As a California native, Jurado had to get used to the hot, humid weather typical to Baltimore summers as he dove into assessing the implementation quality of the Center's core research project. In November, Dr. Powell and colleagues will present a paper on based Jurado’s findings at the American Public Health Association 2018 Annual Meeting. Thank you for your hard work, Israel!

Israel Jurado

Reflections on a Summer in Baltimore

By Israel Jurado

This summer I was given the opportunity to participate in summer research relating to public health thanks to the Diversity Summer Internship Program and Health Careers Opportunities Program. I interned for the Center for Adolescent Health at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. I was provided with mentorship by Dr. Terri Powell who allowed me to work with her on her research study and learn more about the field of public health and research.

The project I took on related to the field of implementation science and my job was to assess factors relating to implementation quality of the LifeSkills Training intervention in Baltimore City public middle schools. LifeSkills Training (LST) is a skills-based cognitive behavioral prevention intervention for students in grades 6-8.  This project was developed to address the growing need for behavioral health interventions that tackle multiple health risk factors among Baltimore youth. After reviewing the numerous problem behaviors of Baltimore’s adolescents and the research on LST, Baltimore City Public Schools (City Schools), the local health department, and behavioral health organizations decided to expand the delivery of LST in City Schools but also add modules explicitly focusing on sexual risks.

I assisted Dr. Powell by collecting fidelity logs completed by teachers, observation logs completed by CAH research staff, and reviewing principal interviews conducted before the intervention. Using SPSS statistical software to interpret the quantitative data and examining the principal interview transcripts, I was able to put together the information and present the findings to Dr. Powell and her team at the Center for Adolescent Health. With the guidance from Dr. Powell, I completed a research paper with our results, completed a research poster to present at Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Cultivating Future Scientists and Health Providers Symposium, and gave a presentation about the findings to the DSIP cohort and director at the Bloomberg School.

Finally, I would like to thank everyone again, in my cohort and mentors for this opportunity in expanding my experience in public health research. Coming in with a background in nutritional science, I took on the challenge being open to learning a different field of science I had no prior knowledge of and how I may relate to it in the future in my field of study. After finishing this summer research project, I now have an interest in learning more about the field of implementation science and applying it to nutrition public health interventions. I am thankful for Dr. Powell's guidance, kindness, insight on graduate school, and patience throughout this summer as all of this was a new experience for me. The staff at the Center for Adolescent Health were welcoming and supportive throughout my time there, and I will not forget this experience. I would recommend any future summer undergraduate intern to work with this team of amazing researchers.