(BCHS '17) participated in Pitt Public Health’s Bridging the Gaps, a community health summer internship program that offers students the opportunity to work directly with underserved populations to better understand their health needs, by serving as an intern at Community Human Services (CHS) in Oakland. Among other things, she helped to set up the CHS food pantry—based on a choice model similar to a farmer’s market—and worked one-on-one with customers. One of the program’s requirements is that interns leave the host organization with a tangible product, which she and her internship partner accomplished by developing a photo journaling project documenting customers’ lived experiences that CHS can use to improve the food pantry.
Wint says the project not only enabled her to provide for the organization rather than “taking an experience and leaving,” but it directly incorporated community-based participatory research techniques she learned in her Introduction to Community Health class. “Both CHS and I were learning from each other, helping each other,” she says. “My time at CHS taught me that small interventions make the world of difference—that by providing food or a home, and ultimately both, you can start the process of completely changing a person’s life and their entire well-being.”
Although she hasn’t decided whether to focus her career more on research or on the practice of public health, Wint says this experience helped her to “see public health in action” and left her more open to working with a community organization helping individuals to improve their health outcomes. To those considering participating in the Bridging the Gaps program as an intern, Wint says, “Do it—apply for it! I had an amazing experience,” which included giving back to CHS as well as meeting with and hearing from other interns at weekly reflective sessions, another program requirement. To local organizations considering getting involved in the program, Wint says, “Not only are you helping to create health care and social work professionals that have a better understanding of the work that goes on in communities and among vulnerable populations, but the students continue to be smart and creative with their projects. Although I can only speak from the experience of a CHS intern, I fully believe that organizations that have an opportunity to work with the program will not regret it.”