During my Master’s in Public Health degree Applied Practice Experience internship with ZBC, I worked with program directors Catherine Thomsen and Lianna Hartmour to meet communities where they were at. For three months, we collaborated on steps to effectively deliver health information, which involved identifying the organization’s target audience and determining a course on how best to meet the needs of community members in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, and Marin counties.
What I learned early on is what a tremendous resource high schools are to the communities they serve. High schools offer environments that are safe, familiar, fun (at times), and informative with a captive audience. Since ZBC continues to partner with high schools as a method for distributing age-appropriate health information, it makes sense to explore every high school in four Bay Area counties with an emphasis on those serving their target audiences. This is what I did! With part of my time, I created a list of potential providers for the purpose of ZBC establishing future partnerships and improving health knowledge through their campaign materials. I also learned about the benefit of seeking and utilizing federally qualified health centers, which are ideal for people who are uninsured or under-insured.
My experience with ZBC was exactly what I needed to jumpstart my public health career. It was a pleasure working with Catherine and Lianna and experiencing their genuine passion for breast cancer prevention. In a short period of time, I grew professionally and personally while discovering an intense curiosity for county-wide demographic data. My most important takeaway from the experience is that beyond the beauty of counties, there are communities whose needs get overlooked. Organizations like ZBC are crucial in recognizing these communities and working toward improved health outcomes.
I am grateful for the positive experience and look forward to crossing paths with Catherine and Lianna in the future.