HCC Volunteer/Intern Profile
Intern/Student: Project Assistant.
Dates with the HCC: 23-01-2017 to 23-07-2017
Name of school/college: Following BSc at University of Reading, pursuing MSc at University College of London.
Programme at school/college: My BSc was in Biomedical Sciences, and my MSc – commencing September 2017 – is in Global Health and Development.
How did you find out about the HCC: I knew I wanted to transition from the science field into a career in public health and had been web-searching for public health-related work opportunities in Barbados, and stumbled upon HCC’s web page. The more I read about the organisation, the more I was inspired to be part of their work.
Projects: Where do I begin? One of the best things about working with the HCC team was the opportunity to work on a vast array of projects, covering many areas of public health. One of my very first projects with HCC was to include Barbados in a World Action on Salt and Health (WASH) survey looking at the salt and sugar content of global breakfast cereals. I was privileged to be included in high-level workshops, and to attend symposiums, such as the “HCC Advocacy, Accountability and Conflicts of Interests,” in Antigua, for which I compiled the meeting minutes and wrote the meeting report.
I introduced HCC to an online tool for creating infographics and took on the responsibility to create infographics to visually summarise reports or to celebrate health-awareness weeks or days. To date, infographics I have created include: Caribbean Cancer Advocacy Agenda; Sodium Adds Up – A Comparison of Sample Meal Plans in Barbados; An Insight into Depression in the Caribbean; Cervical Cancer Prevention Initiative; and Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the Port of Spain Declaration. I helped launch a “Junk Food Challenge” at St. Gabriel’s Primary School that contributed towards tackling childhood obesity within the Caribbean. In collaboration with the Barbados Family Planning Association, I authored a report that discussed the integration of sexual and reproductive health services and noncommunicable disease (NCD) services within Barbados. HCC encouraged me from the start to voice my ideas and input new projects. My idea to establish a volunteer networking web page – aimed at strengthening the civil society movement for the prevention and control of NCDs in the Caribbean – led to my conceptualising ICANCaribbean (ICAN standing for initiating change against NCDs). This website is currently under construction with HCC.
Primary outputs: My self-confidence in my abilities has sky-rocketed. As a remote worker under minimal direct supervision, I had to take responsibility in making decisions to drive projects forward to their expected outcomes. For the infographics, I was often only given a title and some key points to include, which has really honed my skills in determining the most relevant information and being able to express it succinctly. HCC allowed me to leverage my creative and strategic-thinking skills. I have a better understanding of the importance of asking questions relating to project details, upon assignment, instead of attempting to decipher ambiguity. Working on multiple projects with fast approaching deadlines was stressful, but has proved I can prioritise my time to handle the workload successfully. The major benefit I am taking away from this experience is a knowledge-based foundation in public health and policy making. Without this, I feel I would be greatly disadvantaged moving forward with my MSc.
How was your experience at the HCC: Overall, my experience was excellent! I initially felt a little out of my depth, as I was expected to work independently, yet had practically no public health knowledge. However, HCC was always supportive and gave excellent feedback on my progress. It is quite amazing how much I have been able to learn in a relatively short space of time. HCC has really cemented my desire to work in Public health, and has served as an excellent foundation for my Master’s degree – I feel far better equipped for entering a field of study different to my undergraduate degree.
Future plans: After earning my Masters in Global Health and Development, I want to continue working in the field of public health, specifically to combat NCDs, a commitment developed from my experience working with HCC.