“Learn public health by doing public health.” Every Brown SPH student has heard this expression, and for many, it’s the reason they’re here. Hands-on experience with health agencies, government, and non-profit organizations equips Brown MPH students to be effective public health practitioners. And while there’s no substitute for that practical experience, students can learn much from those who have already established careers at the intersection of public health and community engagement.
In order to connect students to effective community leaders, the Health Equity Scholars hosted a panel discussion featuring representatives from several local organizations, all of whom spoke from their extensive experience in the Rhode Island community.
The invited panelists were Mr. Kobi Dennis, the Chief Operating Officer of the YMCA of Greater Providence; Lisa Pina-Warren, Director of Intervention Services at the Nonviolence Institute; Kilah Walters-Clinton, Director Race, Equity, and Community Engagement for the State of Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services; and Sandra Victorino, a bilingual mental health clinician and the Director Of Workforce Development, Diversity Inclusion & Community Relations at Care New England.
Moderated by HES students Lavell Williams and Cedonia Thomas, the panel addressed questions about how they define community, how their personal values are reflected in their work, and what hurdles they have each experienced in their careers. The panelists also spoke at length about opportunities for students to engage more fully with public health issues in Rhode Island and in their home communities. One recurring theme was that of consistency, and the importance of following through on the promises made to a community in order to build trust over time.
The exchange of ideas continued after the formal Q&A ended, with many in the audience making personal connections with the panelists and exchanging contact information. Several panelists have already followed up with HES Director Jai-Me Potter-Rutledge to share information about volunteer opportunities for Brown students.