My name is Maggie Herman and I am a rising senior at Tulane majoring in public health and minoring in political science and international development. I hail from Kansas City but have chosen to brave the New Orleans’ infamous heat and humidity for summer 2014. I’m interested in the effect social, political and economic conditions can have on individual and community health. One day I hope to be a leader in the promotion of healthy choices and changes in society.
What is your internship this summer, Maggie?
This summer I am interning with the New Orleans Regional AIDS Planning Council (NORAPC). NORAPC works to develop and maintain a comprehensive system of care for individuals living with HIV/AIDS in New Orleans Metropolitan area. NORAPC is a federally mandated public planning body working in collaboration with the Office of Health Policy and Office of Public Health and AIDS Funding under the City Health Department
Many are unaware (including myself pre-internship) that the New Orleans Metropolitan area is ranked FOURTH in AIDS case rates in 2011 among large metropolitan areas in the United States (p.s. Baton Rouge is number ONE). HIV/AIDS is a huge health issue in Louisiana and this council works to promote positive change.
NORAPC is funded by the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Modernization Act of 2009, which provides funding for various HIV/AIDS services. The planning council brings members of the affected community together with other key stakeholders to plan how to allocate funding as well as formulate recommendations of planning changes for deliveries of services determined the most needed y the community.
How often do citizens (regular people like you and me) get a chance to have direct input on how federal money, roughly 7 million dollars, is spent? I’m guessing not often, I know the government has never asked me for spending advice! The planning council is a really exciting means of decision-making. I am eager to learn more about its processes and challenges.
What are you internship responsibilities?
As of my first week I have worked to update informational materials with relevant HIV/AIDS related data for the members of the planning council. The various committees of the planning council and well as the whole general council will use there materials later in the summer to prioritize what they believe are the greatest issues facing the HIV/AIDS community in the New Orleans Metropolitan area. I’ve also had the opportunity to sit in on some really cool meetings: an introduction to an innovative HIV/AIDS informational website made specifically for New Orleans, formulation of an educational budgeting-how-to bingo game, and even a meeting with five documentary directors interested in HIV/AIDS in the South. Needless to say, things are really moving and shaking at NORAPC.
Over the course of the summer I will continue to learn how to collect, organize and analyze data. I will also have the opportunity to participate in NORAPC community planning meetings as well as learn about New Orleans’ HIV/AIDS local infrastructure to address the community’s HIV/AIDS needs.
How did you find and secure your internship?
I found my internship through Tulane’s Center for Public Service’s website. Using the search tools, I narrowed down the organizations that related to my field of study and personal interests. Though I have already completed my second tier service learning through a CPS internship, CPS’s website is extremely comprehensive and a great tool for learning about organizations. I sent and email to NORAPC asking if there were any internship positions available, and much to my delight there was one! I attended one of the planning council’s monthly public meetings. After attending the meeting and learning a little more about the organization, I decided this internship would be an excellent opportunity.
What are my expectations for the summer?
I’m really interested in gaining a better understanding of how public health and the public health concepts that I have learned about in my undergraduate courses really work in the “real world”. I am looking forward to learning about the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS in New Orleans because they are extremely multifaceted and multidimensional. For starters HIV/AIDS issues are affected by politics, policy, social norms, culture, media, Hurricane Katrina, and much more. This issue is also constantly evolving (ex: the Affordable Care Act) meaning there are endless learning opportunities ahead of me!
Also, one last thing- because there’s always enough time for a condom pun!
That’s a wrap! 😉
Thanks for reading!,