I was granted the opportunity to be involved in a program between Morehouse College and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention called Project IMHOTEP. Thus far, this internship has challenged and pushed me beyond my assumed limits.
During the first two weeks of Project IMHOTEP, the days were filled with intense studying and classes for twelve hours a day. The classes included topics on epidemiology, biostatistics, occupational safety and health, special topics in public health, social determinants of health, and statistical snalysis software training. Needless to say, there have been many long days and sleep deprived nights, but overall it is worth it.
The first weekend featured a retreat where we lodged at the beautiful Calloway Gardens Resort. We went to Tuskegee University in Alabama, where we attended a lecture series at the Center for Bioethics. We toured Booker T. Washington’s house and volunteered at Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Warm Springs Rehabilitation Center. Visiting those places – specifically Tuskegee University – gave me an insight into history, especially African American history as it relates to public health. At Tuskegee, we learned a little more in depth about the “Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment”, as it is commonly known as, and how bioethics evolved into what is today as it relates to research on human subjects.
Those experiences during that retreat will forever stick with me as I continue toward my career goals, because it reminds me of the dedication and hard work, in spite of adversity, that people have sacrificed in order to make change to improve the health of society. Knowing these sacrifices only inspires me to reach for greatness and embark on new discoveries that will benefit society and the field of public health.
I am now into the fourth week of my internship. I have finished the classes and am currently working at my site at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the Rickettsial Disease and Zoonoses Branch. While working in this branch I have been able to work first hand with some of the top scientists in the field of public health and research. I have been able to learn many new techniques involved in lab research and have been making some great discoveries with my work. Currently, I have been amplifying DNA sequences to identify genetic variability between two Rickettsial species. I find it fascinating because, I never really knew much about Rickettsial diseases. By working with the Rickettsial agents and gaining knowledge through literature, I have found that this research is pertinent to many rising issues in the field of public health and the work I do can aid in helping control the spread of diseases that these rickettsiae species cause.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to work with individuals at the CDC of such a high caliber, especially since I one day hope to work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a public health professional . I believe that this opportunity has not only allowed me to experience life as a public health professional, but it has also greatly increased my passion and desire to work in public health.
This internship experience is allowing me an opportunity to network and establish relationships with a variety of professionals in the public health realm. I realize that establishing these relationships early on will be mutually beneficial for me and the people I have met.