For my STEP Experience, I traveled to San Diego, CA to attend the annual American Public Health Association Conference. This year’s topic was “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Health Equity Now.” As an undergraduate student, I attended to gain more knowledge about topics discussed in major course classes and received numerous networking opportunities with public health professionals. I also had the opportunity to present my research about African American women and health disparities.
Through this STEP experience, my understanding of public and all of its sectors has drastically changed. It has been amazing to see that public health and the professionals in this field are not only epidemiologists, but nurses, doctors, social workers, community workers, and policy makers. Meeting all of these people have pushed me change how I look at my future decisions towards my specialization in my master’s program. I was able to change my network for public health and high-standing individuals in public health come see work that I’ve done.
I stayed in a hostel that was in downtown San Diego and 10 minutes from the convention center. I met different people who were from different countries coming for the APHA conference as well as just in the area for tourism. I loved the people I got to meet in the hostel, especially one doctor from New York who offered me an internship next summer based on a passing conversation we had. The location of the hostel put me relatively close to historical sites in San Diego such as the Museum of Art, The History of San Diego Museum, and Japanese Zen Garden that were either free or very reasonable priced.
I also loved going to different seminars about topics that I love like African American women’s health, community health work, and restorative justice. The US General Surgeon, Jerome Adams, gave a great speech about restoring health disparities in the US from a economic standpoint. One thing that I loved about the seminars was that everyone got to freely share their opinions and felt safe to ask any questions. There were a variety of events you could attend, from films/documentaries to lectures to caucus debates to official policy meetings. I had the chance to meet one of my biggest public health inspirations, Dr. Camara Jones.
The most exciting section of the trip was being able to present about my research entitled Inclusion of health status to ‘Black Girl Magic’ movement: An innovative method to improve and transition the future health and wellness of African American women. The presentation was on a poster board. People were able to read my abstract online and come prepared with questions and comments about my research. I had one woman walk up to me and say, “I favorited your abstract. This research is so beautiful.” The director of the Black Caucus of Community Health Workers came up to me and even took a picture with me. She told me my work was strong. She gave me suggestions on how I could improve and even told me that I should make corrections and apply to present again this year at the conference in 2019.
All in all, this experience changed so much for me. Professionally, it allowed me to get to meet professionals and put my name out into the field. Personally, it showed me how much I love my major, public health, and the health care sector that I currently work in. Thanks to STEP, I was able to take a risk and think creatively about what I could do to immerse myself more in public health. This experience even led for my college to write an article about me. Since I have come home from APHA, I have had more opportunities to help with new research, receive a promotion in my job, and even opened my world to more summer internships. I appreciate everything STEP has offered me, and I hope this opportunity is open for future Ohio State students.
Here is my article: https://cph.osu.edu/news/2018/11/jones
Here is my research abstract: https://apha.confex.com/apha/2018/bc/papers/index.cgi?username=422422&password=485321