March 16, 2015 | Erin Bluvas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jocelyn Rogers has built the perfect bridge to transition between her junior and senior years as a public health major at the Arnold School: an 11-week summer internship with Project IMHOTEP. A public health training program for undergraduates, Project IMHOTEP helps juniors, seniors and recent graduates develop knowledge and skills in biostatistics, epidemiology and occupational health and safety. The program begins with educational training and then proceeds through a series of practical research experiences with experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), academic institutions, state agencies and various other public health and community-based organizations.
Named after the ancient Egyptian who is considered the “father of medicine,” Project IMHOTEP is part of a cooperative agreement between CDC and Morehouse College to provide training and research opportunities to minorities interested in public health. The agreement aims to prepare underrepresented students with knowledge capacity and skills for careers in all public health disciplines. Falling under the CDC’s Undergraduate Public Health Scholars Program, IMHOTEP’s goal is to facilitate the development of the underrepresented public health workforce both domestically and globally through international networks of these future scientists.
This program admits outstanding applicants like Rogers based on a set of competitive selection criteria. Rogers is already a Capacity Building Intern with the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, an auxiliary volunteer with Palmetto Health Baptist Hospital, a supervisor at USC’s Carolina Call Center, and Vice President of Membership for Sigma Alpha Lambda National Leadership and Honors Organization. She has also interned with Sustainable Midlands.
Even though she has already amassed an impressive resume of practical public health and service experience with various organizations, Rogers believes that her research experience within the Arnold School might be what set her apart from other applicants. Doctoral Candidate of exercise science Kara Whitaker invited students in her Psychology of Physical Activity course to work on a study led by Sara Wilcox and Jihong Liu. Rogers eagerly took advantage of the opportunity to assist with their Health in Pregnancy and Postpartum study. This project will recruit 500 women (half African-American and half Caucasian) during their first trimester of pregnancy and provide them with an exercise and nutrition program to facilitate healthy weight gain throughout pregnancy and weight loss during the postpartum period.
To her peers and prospective students, Rogers recommends taking advantage of all practical experiences available and networking as much as possible. “Public health is so broad that you can do anything you want,” she says. “But it’s also competitive so you really need to network. Meet your professors, advisors, community members; volunteer, get experience.” Rogers particularly looks up to Rena Dixon, her supervisor at the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. “With her having her Doctorate in Public Health, she knows her stuff and I cannot thank her enough for taking me under her wing,” she says.
Seventy percent of IMHOTEP alumni go on to pursue graduate degrees in public health, and Rogers intends to join them. She plans to graduate a semester early and pursue a Master of Health Administration degree. “Ultimately, I’d like to become an administrator or coordinator in a hospital, clinic, academia or non-profit organization/facility,” Rogers says.