Summer 2011: My Experiences as a Global Health Leadership Intern

By Priya Srinivasan
University of Pennsylvania
Summer 2011 (May 23-July 15) Global Health Leadership Intern

This summer, I had the thrilling opportunity to work as a Global Health Leadership Intern for Unite For Sight. I worked alongside Jennifer Staple-Clark, dedicated staff members, and other interns who were just as eager as I was to be helping such a great cause. On a day-to-day basis, my work consisted of writing global health courses and editing the website. I was so excited to know that I was creating academic resources that people will be using as academic resources, unlike many interns for other organizations, whose days consisted of data entry and coffee runs. In order to write these courses, I researched global health topics using comprehensive literature reviews. These culminated in two online courses: Non-Communicable Disease and Tobacco and Smoking. In two months, I was able to create courses that will be accessed worldwide. My other task was to re-design the Unite For Sight website, including photographs and editing text to make the website more user-friendly while suggesting new layouts for the website. I have always been interested in design, but this was my first chance to learn more and apply my interests. I learned how to use Adobe Dreamweaver, which allowed me to edit the website using a content management system. It has also inspired me to learn coding so that I can pursue web design in the future.

I became involved with Unite For Sight two years ago when I volunteered abroad in Ghana in 2009. I was so amazed by the impact made by the organization, and I knew I wanted to become more involved with Unite For Sight. When I arrived at the University of Pennsylvania in Fall 2010, I immediately sought out the Penn chapter of Unite For Sight, where I am currently the VP of Campus Fundraising for our chapter. With every new experience I have with Unite For Sight, I become more assured of its worth. I keep discovering the unique aspects of Unite For Sight that separates it from many other organizations. Most importantly, its efficient financial model ensures that 100% of fundraising money goes directly to patient care. It was great to become involved in the Global Health University by writing courses and expanding the global health literature available to all. This coming spring, I intend to assist Unite For Sight at the Global Health & Innovation Conference, at which point I will have been involved with each of the four program divisions. In each division, I have learned more about Unite For Sight, and I am excited to see what this last one holds.

Interning with Unite For Sight has been so rewarding not just because I had the opportunity to do meaningful work as an undergraduate, but also because I had the chance to work in such an engaging workplace. I am very passionate about global health. Although I have met others who share similar interests, never before have I been surrounded by so many people dedicated to improving public health. I met people who came from such different places, but everyone had a curiosity about global health that made individual work more collaborative. There are varied interests within global health, and it was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about those I had not yet considered in detail. Although interns researched and wrote individually, we were also encouraged to discuss any ideas or problems we had. These were some of the most interesting experiences I had as an intern, because they gave me a new insight about my work, and the work of my peers.

Further, I had the chance to work one-on-one with Jennifer, discussing new ideas for the website every day. I felt so encouraged to share my ideas, knowing that my opinions were taken seriously by someone I respect so much. Her dedication to Unite For Sight was made even more inspiring when I arrived in New Haven and realized that she truly wanted me to explore my own ideas. On the first day, Jennifer encouraged me to explore any global health interests that I had. My first course was about non-communicable disease in the developing world, which intrigued me about the impact of smoking on global health. Jennifer welcomed me to explore this, so I researched it and created a course on the topic. She also encouraged me to explore the field of web design, asking for my opinion on such matters and taking my suggestions for website improvements. It was so rewarding to know that my abilities were truly valued with Unite For Sight.

Although I was dedicated to Unite For Sight before even coming to New Haven for the Global Health Leadership Internship, my interest in helping the organization has only grown. It was reassuring to know that a dedicated staff whose interests lie in improving eye health worldwide through community partnerships runs Unite For Sight. I strongly recommend this internship to anyone interest in making a real and lasting impact on global health.