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New placements offer students meaningful, virtual, summer field placements.

In quite a dramatic fashion, COVID-19 asserted itself in programs structured to facilitate students “learning by doing”, and the process of reflecting on those experiences which is the core of experiential learning. Both BBH’s internship program and the Global Health Minor are predicated on this learning model and this year’s “out of the box,” “out of the classroom,” and “out of the country” opportunities developed by program leaders Elizabeth Lasher, internship coordinator, and Dana Naughton, director of the Global Health Minor, were collateral damage of the  shutdowns required to stem the virus spread.

“We are fortunate,” Naughton said of the experience, “that students in our programs are particularly attuned to understanding the challenges of global and public health interventions whenever they occur and especially so during a pandemic.”

Lasher noted that while profoundly disappointed that long awaited fieldwork experiences were cancelled, “they understood the gravity of the situation and the actions needed for containment.”

In response to the domestic and international field site closings, Naughton and Lasher quickly developed partnerships with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Penn State’s Philadelphia Outreach Office and Amit Sharma, professor of hospitality management and finance and the director of the Food Decisions Research Laboratory, to provide students with highly relevant opportunities responsive to students’ profound desire to contribute in a meaningful ways with efforts to stem spread or help people during the challenge. Over the course of the summer, nearly 25 students from both programs worked as contact tracers with the Department of Health or as research assistants for the Philadelphia site of a global study on food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Olivia Romano
“Participating in the Food Insecurity During COVID-19 research study has given me an opportunity to be a part of the type of community and global research that we discuss in class while giving me insight into the very real health and food access struggles of those who are right here in Philadelphia. This research directly applied to my degree, advanced my global health knowledge, and offered skill training, mentorship and hands on experience in how community-wide research is performed."
Olivia Romano, current student
"Volunteering as a contact tracer for the Pennsylvania Department of Health during the COVID-19 pandemic was an amazing experience that helped me progress towards my goal of becoming a physician’s assistant. Helping COVID-19 contacts helped me gain insight into how to communicate, listen, and respond to people who are going through a rough time. Comforting people who are struggling is something that you will have to do every day as a health care worker and this program gave me that opportunity. In the future, I will always remember how this program helped me gain valuable skills, prepared me for my career, and provided me with the opportunity to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic."
Tadeo Riedel Gonzalez, current student

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