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Office of Equity and Minority Health Internships Provide First-Hand Experience for Northwestern Undergrads

Office of Equity and Minority Health Internships Provide First-Hand Experience for Northwestern Undergrads

There is a growing public health workforce shortage at the local, state and federal levels. Emerging, unfortunately, at a time when higher morbidity and mortality rates for preventable diseases emphasize the need for quality health services in medically underserved areas. A strong predictor of public health providers choosing to practice in medically underserved areas is the experience of engaging with community members, organizations and advocates working to change conditions.
 
With the understanding that the best way to make a difference in Chicago’s medically underserved communities is to see and experience their challenges first-hand, the Office of Equity and Minority Health (OEMH) has developed a comprehensive Public Health Professions’ Pipeline Program. In cooperation with the Chicago Field Studies Program (CFS) in the Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences their goal is to provide student interns interested in Public Health with exposure to careers they might be might be interested in pursuing after graduation. The internship program will also enable OEMH to connect organizations in the community with these talented student interns—who can can contribute to their projects and help them meet their objectives.
 
Northwestern University undergraduate students, Julie Whyte and Tirth Patel are the OEMH’s outstanding new interns. Whyte is a senior majoring in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Biochemistry. A pre-med student originally from Huntsville, Alabama, she is minoring in Science in Human Culture, and plans to apply to medical school in June. Whyte will work with OEMH community partner Sisters Working It Out (SWIO), a breast cancer awareness and advocacy organization focused on addressing cancer in some of the poorest and most medically underserved communities in Chicago and the south suburbs. 
 
Patel is a junior studying biomedical engineering. Originally from Toledo, Ohio, he has been involved in cancer research at a lab in Evanston since his freshman year. Patel is passionate about teaching and has served as a tutor and a teaching assistant in science courses. Patel will work with OEMH community partner Access Community Health Network, Illinois’ largest Federally Qualified Healthcare Clinic with more than 40 locations throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.