Q&A: Summer Internship Program

The Summer Internship Program places college students in roles throughout Baylor that promote students’ professional development while supporting the College’s clinical, research and education missions. This summer, Baylor Global Health hosted two students, Shelby Griffin, a junior studying public health at the University of Texas Austin, and Jose Madrid, a second-year graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in healthcare administration and business administration at the University of Houston Clear Lake.

Get to know more about Shelby and Jose as they discuss what they learned at Baylor and the overall field of global health.

How did you get involved with Baylor Global Health?

Shelby: I had been looking at Baylor’s administrative internship for a few years, and global health was a department that I was really interested in because of my background in public health. I was super excited to get the call! I think I was selected because I have a marketing background from the student organizations and internships that I have done in the past. We have been working a lot with creating marketing materials and films.

Jose: I was looking for internships in the Texas Medical Center when I got a call from global health. They were interested in my background with working on travel videos since one of our main tasks was to help create a video with footage from Liberia. I was also interested because I am an international student from Honduras.

What did you learn the most from your work as an intern in global health?

Shelby: One of my favorite projects was working on a grant proposal for cervical cancer screenings in The Gambia. It’s incredible because cervical cancer is something that the United States struggled with for a very long time but is easily preventable with screening. Just realizing how a lack of access to healthcare can really impact public health and global health in a broader way is really rewarding.

Jose: What I learned the most is how detailed clinical trials can be. I was able to be a part of calls and attend meetings about clinical sites in Brazil and China, and it was interesting to learn how specific everything has to be and how you have to follow everything perfectly. Since my undergrad is in biotechnology, I’ve always been interested in clinical trials, but I never knew how much collaboration is involved. Some projects include doctors from Baylor, Rice University, Massachusetts, South Africa and from all over, so these collaborations are huge. That is something I’ve never thought about before – how globalization brings people together to incorporate healthcare into the world.

How did working with Baylor Global Health contribute to what you want to do in the future?

Shelby: I think it reinforced what I want to do in the future. Because I am a founding member of University of Texas Austin’s Doctors Without Borders student chapter, I have always been interested in global health, but I didn’t know where I would fit in because I am not interested in being a clinician. Now I realize how many hats are worn and how many people play a part in global health. That has been reaffirming and inspiring.

Jose: Ever since I moved from Honduras to the U.S. seven years ago I have been thinking about how I could give back to my country. Baylor Global Health has shown me that there’s so many ways you can collaborate with other countries. I also learned that it’s not only about bringing technology, products and healthcare into other countries, but needing to provide training and support. Overall, just learning more about how I can personally give back.

What current global health issues are important to you right now?

Shelby: Definitely maternal mortality. I think Texas kind of mirrors what’s going on globally, which is surprising, but Texas has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the developed world. And just seeing how we are addressing that here and how some of those systems and policies can be implemented abroad has been really interesting and something that I want to work on in the future.

Jose: For me, it is oncology screening. With screening you can prevent so many deaths, especially abroad. I learned about how important it is to make systems portable for remote locations and areas that are not easy to access – making things portable for screening is a huge thing.

How do you see yourself moving forward in the field of global health?

Shelby: Moving forward, I definitely want to be a logistician with Doctors Without Borders while I’m young and don’t have many responsibilities. It was already in the back of my mind but now that I’ve done this and I have affirmed that global health is really my passion, I want to go forward with that.

Jose: I would like to be a clinical studies coordinator with trials that are global health-related. It might not be right away but that is my end goal, especially with Honduras. Dr. Sharmila Anandasabapathy (director of Baylor Global Health) had a couple of projects in Honduras so learning about that was really interesting as well. It gave me hope that there is a possibility for me to bring healthcare initiatives into my own country.

Anything else you want to add?

Jose: I came into this internship thinking of what I would learn about healthcare, but I didn’t think about how much I would learn about myself and my passions. For example, we had something called “breakfast and brainstorm” every Tuesday morning for all the participants in the Summer Internship Program, and we talked to different executives and directors from Baylor. One of them said ‘this internship is important for you to understand what you don’t like,’ because if you learn what you don’t like it’s better for you to accommodate whatever your path is going to be, so that was very important to learn.

By Kaylee Dusang