VA-LEND, Family Trainee
I am the parent of a wonderful 7 year old boy with high functioning autism. He has changed my life for the better. I am now involved in an education program and work that is fulfilling. I am able to learn about developmental disabilities, affect family centered care, and from relationships with healthcare professionals. I have become an expert in my field, and been moved to further my education because of LEND.
I have been an advocate for my son since birth. At a young age he received early intervention for speech delay and some physical problems.
I noticed he developed some other behaviors that resembled autism. I was constantly told, “not to worry”, or that “he does not have autism.” When he was finally diagnosed with autism at 4 years old, I felt unequipped to help him. I remember asking myself “now what?” “What are the next steps after a diagnosis?”
I looked for resources and learning opportunities to help me learn how to strongly advocate for him, and get him the services and supports he needed. I found the LEND through one of the many emails I receive about resources. At that time I was a stay-at- home mom. I had to leave my career to manage my child’s care and also any school issues he was having. My husband works full time as a software engineer and supports us. I always wanted to go back to school on a graduate level. This program looked like it would help me to gain needed information on neurodevelopmental disabilities, and also influence providers on family centered care.
Through the LEND program I feel empowered. I never thought as a parent that I had a real voice. I am the expert on my child and I am valued. Parents should know that they are vital members of their child's health care team. I have gained valuable relationships with practitioners in this program and it has been a mutually beneficial experience.
How has your training program experience influenced your future career trajectory?
I have learned that I can be a leader, and affect change. I am a graduate student in a program at another university. I am studying Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), and will complete my program and receive my Masters Degree in the summer. I am going to sit for my Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) exam in May. I am finishing up my 1500 hours of fieldwork under the supervision and guidance of a BCBA. I feel I would not have pursued this course without being involved in LEND. I feel I can help many more parents of children like my own son as an advocate and a provider.
Through LEND, I have been able to be involved in research. I have completed a research poster on barriers that minority face in getting an autism diagnosis and treatment. I have also been able to present my findings at conferences in different states. I would not have had these opportunities without the program. I now have a survey under IRB review. I would like to be able send this survey out to families of children on the spectrum to find out specific barriers to treatment they face. It is my hope that with the data I will be able to publish my findings.
My hope is to use further develop the skills I have acquired through this program so that I can continue to be involved in research, community outreach, as well as be a subject matter expert on Autism and cultural competency, and health disparities.
It is my hope to be accepted to a doctoral program so I can research behavioral health, and health disparities. My ultimate goal is to work for a University and work on increasing cultural competency and decreasing health disparities for minority populations. My specific area of expertise would be Autism.
What is one lesson learned from your time in the LEND Program?
Through LEND, I learned that anyone can be a leader! I am a servant leader. My leadership evolved from my desire to serve others parents and children with autism. I believe in being an expert in your field and empowering others to develop their gifts.
I felt I was “just a parent” before LEND. I feel I am a parent with a purpose and I have much to give. My work has not only affected my family, but others as well. I have been able to provide resources for others and be an advocate. I plan on advocating for my son until he is able to do it himself. I am an accidental leader, but a leader nonetheless.
By Ashley Belton
Division of MCH Workforce Development, MCHB
As an incoming Masters in Public Health (MPH) candidate at Boston University School of Public Health, I worked as a summer intern at the Department of Health and Human Services/HRSA in the Maternal and Child Bureau (MCHB) Division of MCH Workforce Development. As a maternal child health (MCH) concentrator I was excited that I would be able to acquire knowledge about the field before I started graduate school. My primary area of interest was research in the prenatal care in minority populations. While interning at MCHB, I gained invaluable knowledge about MCH policies, the life course approach, current MCH initiatives, and technological skills. During this time, I developed stronger leadership skills and enhanced both my communications skills along with my ability to multi-task. I attended conferences and seminars on child health including the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality the First Focus Children’s Budget 2012 on Capitol Hill, and the Maryland Block Grant Review.
I worked on a variety of projects within Workforce Development. I collaborated with staff members in the redesign of the MCH Navigator website, which is a MCH professional supplementary learning website. I also added new learning opportunities to the website and cataloged existing trainings. In addition, I wrote the MCH Navigator monthly electronic newsletter. I worked with the Division of Research, Training and Education (DRTE) and wrote a literature review on autism spectrum disorder in underserved communities, which will be used in a paper for publishing. I updated the Microsoft Office Access database, of all currently funded MCH Training program, abstracts. On a daily basis I interacted with technical staff in transferring recent information to the MCH website. This experience was an excellent gateway to the MCH field. I was privileged to have the opportunity to learn about the MCH Navigator, which serves as a huge information resource for trainees and professional alike on targeted MCH information.
By Ariana Zarate
Soon after I graduated from Indiana University-Bloomington, with a Bachelors of Science in Public Health, I was given the opportunity to work as an intern at the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) in the Division of Research, Training and Education (DRTE). During my time at the MCHB I worked on a research project with the purpose to highlight the need to address disparities among Hispanics in the MCH workforce. Particularly, the research focuses on identifying MCH training programs and recruitment practices for potential MCH Hispanic trainees across disciplines to ensure a sustained commitment to the diversity of MCH faculty and trainees. I was also involved in other activities such as reading assignments, view various archived presentations and learn from distance MCH courses through which I gained a better understanding and appreciation of the field of public health at MCH generally and the Bureau specifically. As a part of the internship, I also had the opportunity to participate in networking activities with Hispanic Public Health leaders and Hispanic National Leaders in the Washington, DC area by attending luncheons, staff meetings, interviews and conferences.
Through these opportunities and my exposure on the different aspects of public health in the federal sector I discovered that my passion is in public health, specifically in improving the health and well being of women and children. I believe that my experience and the projects that I worked on during my internship at MCHB improved my knowledge, skills, and abilities so that I will become more competent in addressing health disparities among under-represented communities. Overall, my experience at MCHB was great, I had the opportunity to meet extraordinary people with a wonderful and positive attitude who worked with me and provided me with their guidance and support throughout my time at MCHB. I am very thankful for this learning experience and I am confident that my experiences at DRTE have prepared me to continue to pursue a graduate degree in public health with a concentration in Epidemiology.
My LEND Fellowship Experience (2010-2011)
By Kristina Majewski
This past year I had the honor of becoming the Rose F. Kennedy University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) first LEND Law Fellow. As a student at Cardozo School of Law in Manhattan, I heard of this great opportunity through a friend who knew I had my heart set on disability policy and advocacy. Looking back on my time with Children's Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center, (CERC) I can easily say that it was the most rewarding, and eye-opening professional experience of both my undergraduate and law school career. I was not only amazed by how much I learned about UCEDDs and the innovative research being done in the field developmental disabilities, but also by how many influential, and welcoming mentors I encountered – including attorneys, physicians, CERC directors (past and present), occupational therapists, physical therapists, psychologists, administrators, LEND fellows, and the most motivated and inspirational self-advocates I have ever known. Thanks to my attendance at LEND lectures, team meetings, and various conferences in DC, NYC, Albany, and Delaware, I was able to experience the value of interdisciplinary collaboration firsthand, as well as learn about an array of research topics from top-notch experts and academic scholars.
Thanks to my wonderful supervisors - Ms. Sheryl Dicker and Dr. Robert Marion - I learned so much about myself as a writer, researcher, and, most of all, an advocate. During my time as a LEND fellow, I completed several projects - which included writing a series of memos on the legal issues surrounding transition from special education to adulthood, and the challenges faced by individuals with developmental disabilities during the process, as well as a memo to the staff at CERC about the right of parents to obtain independent educational evaluations relating to special services for their children. I also co-authored several articles on "Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Law" for the publication Autism Spectrum News. Lastly, this past May, I presented my final project to CERC staff, focusing on the housing options available for adolescents and adults with disabilities and the fight to support community living.
Starting in January I will be relocating to Washington D.C. to complete a one-year Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Disability Policy Fellowship. I could not be more thankful for the support of my mentors at CERC, nor more excited, to have this once in a lifetime opportunity. At AUCD I will be working alongside Kim Musheno, Director of Legislative Affairs, and Dawn Rudolph, the Director of Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD) Technical Assistance. In this role I hope to bring to light, and add to, the pool of knowledge I have gained from CERC. I realize that in the field of disability policy, I will never stop, or want to stop, learning, and will do everything in my power to advocate for positive change in disability legislation and policy.
Kristina Majewski was selected as the 2012 AUCD Disability Policy Leadership Fellow. In her LEND fellowship, she focused on research related to the transition of individuals with intellectual and other disabilities from special education to adulthood, as well as on the state of available housing options and deinstitutionalization efforts for this population. As the proud sibling of two adolescents with special needs, she has spent the past ten years working as an active member of various advocacy groups and volunteer agencies that specialize in developing community activities, administering legal aid, and providing various resources for individuals with disabilities.
By Nicole Steffens
Division of Research, Training and Education (DRTE)
My experience at the Maternal and Child Health Bureau Division of Research, Training and Education (DRTE) this summer was a period of valuable growth. As a Maternal and Child Health Masters in Public Health (MPH) trainee at the University of Minnesota, I am interested in policy and macro level work. I was eager to expand my knowledge in application of federal level policies and Title V programs -- programs that are funded and administrated through MCHB. Interning at DRTE expanded this understanding, allowing me the chance to work in a setting that aims to further professionals and trainees' careers.
My main project at the Bureau was working on an online learning portal for MCH professionals, called the MCH Navigator. Through screening and summary write-ups, I was able to contribute to the preliminary launch of the site. This continued editing as well as implementing a vetting project for the site helped me to fine-tune my organizational abilities. The vetting project also gave me the opportunity to implement my first evaluation process, a skill-set I learned as a student in Minnesota. I most enjoyed organizing the preliminary data and presentations, which allowed me to see my work and collaboration with others assembled into one final output.
The staff and my mentors at DRTE have helped push my pubic health knowledge into application. They supported me in visiting other division heads, and participating in outside meetings, one including a Congressional hearing with the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) on autism funding reauthorization. I also had the opportunity to participate in HRSA level meetings. These, in addition to my main activities, have helped further my training, career and MCH identity. I look forward to continuing my studies and collaborating with the professionals I made contact with over future years.
By Alyssa Crawford
Division of Research, Training and Education (DRTE) Trainee
As I was preparing for my fulltime internship with the Division of Research, Training and Education (DRTE) at the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) one year ago, I thought a lot about the organization of the federal executive branch, the relationship between states and federal policies, and the challenges of working in government. As a Masters of Science in Public Health (MSPH) candidate at the MCH Training Program at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, I knew that my time at DRTE would allow me to explore potential career paths and better prepare me for the impending job search process. What I did not realize was how much of an impact my internship would have on my professional identity and confidence as I began a career in maternal and child health (MCH).
My primary responsibilities at DRTE centered on the MCH Navigator—a new web-based learning portal for MCH professionals. During my twelve months with the Division (six months full-time, the rest part-time), I contributed to a variety of aspects of this project, including searching for and screening online learning resources, coordinating workgroup meetings, developing and revising draft documents, and making suggestions about the structure and substance of the MCH Navigator system. I also participated in strategic planning activities for the MCH Training Program; a task which required me to draw both on my time at DRTE and my experiences as an MCH Trainee at the Johns School of Public Health. I was also involved in a number of smaller projects, including the drafting of materials for the MCH Training website and helping to brainstorm better ways of that DRTE could communicate directly with MCH Trainees. These experiences built not only upon the knowledge and skills that I gained in my academic program, but also allowed me to further develop my "soft" skills, including interpersonal communication, organization, and critical thinking. The individuals with whom I worked—both DRTE staff and professionals from partner organizations and institutions—were extremely warm and welcoming, making this past year both an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
As I leave DRTE, I recognize that the increased knowledge and appreciation that I gained for the field of MCH and the intricacies of the federal government. I know that the relationships I have developed—whether they be personal or professional (or sometimes both)—will stay with me as I continue to explore the field of maternal and child health.
My Summer Internship at the Maternal and Child Health Bureau
By Kendra Williams
MCH Public Health Trainee
As a graduate student in the Tulane School of Public Health, I was given the opportunity to work as an intern at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), in the Division of Research, Training and Education (DRTE). All of the DRTE staff were extremely welcoming and gave me many options for projects I could help with over the summer.
One of my main tasks was to formulate a draft of a HRSA Healthy Weight Strategic Plan. Working with two other interns in different Bureaus, we developed a background section about current obesity trends and initiatives. We also included information about HRSA's mission and goals, the functions of the many HRSA bureaus, and a chart based on the Recommendations in the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity Report laying out actions HRSA could possibly take.
I also compiled Performance Measure data from10 different grantee programs managed by DRTE. I edited and updated charts to display this information, to be used in presentations to the grantees as a record of their achievements over the past few years.
Additionally, I helped edit the Background section for the LEND guidance, helped prepare presentations for HRSA staff to present at national conferences, participated in many planning conference calls about the 75th Anniversary of Title V, Bright Futures publications, a grant proposal review, and upcoming meetings. I was able to attend many different conferences throughout the year, including the ASTPHND Annual Meeting, the Diversity Peer Collaborative Conference, and a Kaiser Family Foundation presentation about Global Health.
Through my work on various projects this summer, I learned that a huge number of meetings, conference calls, emails, and other communications are necessary to accomplish any task. I was impressed by the frequent cross-bureau communication and joint efforts undertaken by HRSA staff from different offices and divisions. Even though this wide range of contributors often slowed the process of accomplishing projects, the many viewpoints they all bring to the table seems to be a great asset to the work being done.
Overall, I had a wonderful experience as an intern at DRTE, MCHB. The DRTE staff allowed me to participate in a variety of different activities and always explained to me the often complicated governmental public health processes. I met many unique people who all helped me grow and learn over the duration of my internship. I am very grateful for this experience and am confident that it has prepared me well for a future career in the public health field.
The MCH Pipeline Training program has been a major help to me. All throughout my undergraduate career I was not sure of what my career choice was in healthcare. After becoming a part of the MCH program, I developed an interest for maternal and child health and nursing. Within the program, Mrs. Catrina Waters prepared me for moving into the direction to pursue a degree in nursing and work in underserved communities. The program offered a lot of career networking opportunities and ways to excel professionally. I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Glenda Smith, a nurse practitioner from UAB. I was able to have mock interviews and resume and personal statement preparation. The MCH Pipeline Training program has been a major help in assisting me in finding my passion in healthcare. I would strongly recommend it to anyone.
Ms. Caroline Stewart has been accepted into the University of Alabama at Birmingham Accelerated Masters Program in Nursing. Caroline is a very dedicated and academically successful young lady. She has participated in the ASU Pipeline Training Program for 3 ½ years. She is a native of Racine, WI. Caroline currently lives in Birmingham, AL. She is a biology pre-health major. She has maintained 3.0 or above G.P.A. in her years at Alabama State University. She is a member of Beta Kappa Chi National Honor Society and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated.