My year at the Commission as an Intern by Pilar Mendez

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Looking back on a successful year at the Commission gives me such pride to be a part of a leading organization focused on Hispanic health equity. I have been able to mold my internship experience to my interests, and have been involved in everything from HIV testing to writing articles about health disparities in the Deep South. I never would have imagined being able to be involved in projects from all aspects of an intervention. I would use SPSS to enter data and create codebooks on a variety of capacity building programs, a highly marketable skill in Public Health research. I also conducted interviews with a variety of Hispanic leaders in the Deep South for an assessment report on pressing concerns affecting quality of life. It was through these informal discussions that I was able to learn just how different the political and health climates are across varying states. In New York City itself, I contacted local leading policy officials and highly influential community-based health organizations who see and cater to Hispanic communities on a daily basis, in order to create a working document for outreach purposes.

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 Interns and HEARD staff at the United Nations, December, 2014

I continued with the Deep South assessments in my second semester of work, by  researching media outlets, including print and radio organizations, who market to a Hispanic audience in order to disseminate information about National Latino AIDS Awareness Day and HIV/AIDS-related health information. From there, I wrote a number of editorials and opinion articles that focused on health disparities in the Deep South for these outlets. Topics for these articles included obesity rates and chronic illnesses to how the physical built environment affects health outcomes.

I can say that without a doubt the amount of support from my supervisors and the people I have worked with this past year make coming to work fun, and I have never felt like part of a family with any other internship opportunity I have held. I have been able to structure my work based on personal interests and I cannot thank the Commission enough for allowing me the opportunity to further my personal and professional growth in a field I am so passionate about and hope to continue my career path in. My knowledge base of Hispanic health issues and in particular disparities in HIV/AIDS rates, care, and educational awareness, have been heightened due to the constant flow of communication from those I work with, the opportunities to sit in on and voice my opinions at meetings at the Commission and city organizations, and the ability to advocate for those I have spent the past year talking to and writing about.


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