So Many Learned Experiences in So Little (Remote) Time
Posted: October 2, 2020

By Nilpa Shah, University of California Los Angeles MPH Student, Curamericas Global Intern, Summer 2020

For my Master of Public Health Internship placement, I was keen to work with an organization that values empowering community members to take control of their own health, embodies equity and compassion, and believes in data-driven decision-making. I was eager to do my field studies with Curamericas Global due to its focus on improving maternal and child health in under-resourced and underserved communities and putting a strong emphasis on sustainability, compassion, and empowerment of the communities they support.

A Little About Me

I am a second-year Master of Public Health Student at the University of California Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health. I graduated from the University of California Davis (UC Davis) with a Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cell Biology and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Before starting my graduate program, I was a Project Manager at UC Davis Health. Here, I studied the impacts of sociocultural and biobehavioral determinants of health on disease management. I also developed the structural and organization knowledge for program planning and implementation.

As I navigate my public health journey, my professional goal is to design, implement, and evaluate innovative community-based interventions to promote healthy lifestyles for families that lack healthcare resources.

An Opportunity to Pursue My Goals

During my internship with Curamericas Global, I expanded my skills and experience in monitoring and evaluating a program that strongly focuses on bringing hope, healing, and education to the communities in need.

I worked on the KIKOP Project, a community-based public health program in Kenya to increase access to quality and respectful maternal and newborn services.

Moreover, the program aimed to improve attention to obstetric emergencies, increase the provision of essential newborn care, and reduce child stunting in children under two years of age. The project is in partnership between Curamericas Global, Kenya Ministry of Health, and the Ronald McDonald House Charities. It utilizes a community-based intervention model to deliver health education and health services to individual households. I conducted a mixed-methods process evaluation of the Routine Home Visitation component of the KIKOP project to assess the quality and adherence of the program implementation.

As I furthered my internship this summer, I discovered that community input in programming and implementation is strongly valued at Curamericas Global.

I was able to join the team meetings to learn about non-profit organizational management and other critical ongoing projects. All the projects are evidence- and community-based here. I also built valuable connections with other professionals on the team who discussed career trajectories in the field of public health with me.

Some of the Takeaways

I was overwhelmed with kindness by which everyone welcomed me on the team. The team cheered me on all my achievements on the project and pushed me to think critically about the issues at hand. As an emerging public health leader, I was motivated to collaborate with other like-minded professionals in my internship to improve healthcare equity and create synergy to promote and protect the health of people and their communities. The organization as a whole valued collaboration and teamwork to further the health of the community they served.

The mission statement “end suffering from preventable causes” was deeply ingrained in its projects and reflected in the program evaluation report I developed during my internship. I learned to lead a research project, conduct quantitative and qualitative analysis, and create a research strategy for the evaluation. This internship empowered me to be an independent thinker to solve problems and take the initiative to make the research strategy stronger and more feasible. The team was open to make changes and hear new ideas that would make the project and the program more robust.

Even with the travel restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I could remotely take advantage of all the resources and gain many skills and experiences during this period.

My experience with Curamericas Global as a Monitoring and Evaluation Intern this summer was memorable.

Lastly, I am very excited to share the project’s evaluation report in the coming days on Curamericas Global website. Stay tuned!

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