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VGPHLP Internship Gives SCU Senior Extensive Experience With Community Health Organization

Kayla Williams ‘19 leverages training in biology, public health

Kayla Williams ‘19 leverages training in biology, public health

Community Health Partnership intern Kayla Williams -second from left- with Asian Americans for Community Involvement staff

By Ally O'Connor '20

This past summer, Santa Clara University senior Kayla Williams ‘19 (Biology and Public Health) had the opportunity to apply the training she has received in her two majors to a real-world healthcare experience. With the help of the Valeriote Goldman Public Health Leadership Project, Williams interned with Community Health Partnership CEO Dolores Alvarado to create an online resource directory of community-based organizations and social services.

The directory Williams developed is designed to help nurses, patient navigators and social workers to access information about a broad range of social services ranging from homelessness, legal assistance, and employment.  Three local community health centers –– Asian Americans for Community Involvement, MayView Community Health Center, and School Health Clinics of Santa Clara County –– currently are pilot-testing the directory.

Founded in 1993, Community Health Partnership is a policy advocacy organization promoting affordable, accessible health services for the diverse communities of Santa Clara County and assisting health centers and clinics in achieving these goals. Alvarado hires six or seven interns each summer who spend three months tackling specific projects. She notes that successful interns have a strong “understanding or desire to understand community health, the compassion to work with men and women of diverse backgrounds, and skills that would in some way contribute to this broad organization.”

Williams’ academic background, her experiences in SCU’s student government (ASG), and her diversity activities with Igwebuike, SCU’s pan-African club, made her a good fit for the organization. Her internship responsibilities included giving tours of community health centers, visiting hospitals and research centers, attending Santa Clara Board of Supervisors meetings, and, most importantly, creating the new online research system.

Alvarado invited Williams to continue her work with Community Health Partnership as a part-time employee throughout the year. She continues to work closely with the community agencies as they test the online system. Williams will use their feedback to refine the system.

According to Williams, initial feedback from the agencies testing the resource guide has been mixed. “Some [of the agencies] chose to use a hard copy version rather than the online as intended. Fortunately, they have been great at giving feedback [and] find the directory useful.” Some of CHP’s largest community partners will be testing the resource directory’s use in the near future.

Williams notes that her internship has helped her “become a lot closer to the county, and better understands the depth of the area.” Moreover, although she does not have specific career goals, Williams says that after this internship she now “hopes to do something similar in the public health field that can make a measurable impact.”

student story, public health major,
Valeriote Goldman Symposium: Public Health & Social Justice