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Internship Spotlight: Peri Sosensky, MPH ’24 (Health Policy)

October 04, 2023

Graduate Assistant at CARE (Community Alliance for Research & Engagement), Hybrid in New Haven; Funding: YSPH and Southern Connecticut State University

What is your career goal?

I want to analyze and interpret data for a health department, a health care entity, or a corporation. My goal is to convey this evidence-based information for easy and effective comprehension, so that it may shape policies encouraging optimal health, health care efficiencies, and resource allocation, especially among marginalized communities.

What were your duties/responsibilities during your internship?

One of my responsibilities this summer was implementing and supporting a program at local food pantries known as SWAP (Supporting Wellness at Pantries). I gathered, analyzed, and interpreted data on pantry inventory and its nutritional value, with the goal of stocking the shelves with healthy food options and informing pantry clients about healthy food choices using simple sticker graphics.

I was a member of the New Haven Breast/Chestfeeding Task Force as well. We managed a campaign titled “We Support Breast/Chestfeeding Any Time, Any Place,” urging local businesses and public spaces to become ‘breast/chestfeeding-friendly’ by providing resources to employees and customers.

What did you take away from your experience as an intern? What was the value of the internship to you?

The internship and its numerous focuses gave me an opportunity to collect data from the community and see it through to the reporting and impact of the initiatives’ efforts on the community and its health. Seeing firsthand how the power of data can so positively impact our community – its public service programs and residents – cemented my desire to work in data analytics.

Working on these projects, connecting with community members, and hearing their struggles and successes was inspiring and motivated me to persist in my efforts to develop, enhance, and drive policies aimed at achieving improved and more equitable health care and services.

What was the most rewarding aspect of your internship? What was the most challenging aspect? The most surprising aspect?

The positive feedback and appreciation those initiatives received from the food pantry team members and their clients was so rewarding. Hearing that pantry clients could more easily feed their families healthy meals thanks to the SWAP program was immensely gratifying. As rewarding as it was, it was also difficult knowing of the extensive need for these services within the community, especially in marginalized communities.

How did your first year at YSPH prepare you for this internship?

The knowledge I gained during my first year at YSPH regarding the unique health-related challenges that different communities struggle with due to social determinants of health helped prepare me for my internship. It helped me better understand the data and the communities I was working in and enhanced my ability and desire to contribute to sustainable health improvements through data analytics.

What would you say to a student who’s considering a similar internship?

Being out in the community teaches you so many things about people as individuals, available services, effective communication, and compassion. For anyone considering a similar internship, you never know where an opportunity or experience will lead you in your personal endeavors and in your career.

Submitted by Sabrina Lacerda Naia dos Santos on October 04, 2023