December 5, 2017 | Erin Bluvas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Public health wasn’t Jasmine Douglas’ first major at UofSC, but now she can’t imagine life without it. The Columbia native has a lot of plans for her degree.
“I want to become a data analyst, I want to go back to school for my master of public health to become an HIV surveillance epidemiologist, I want to work for the CDC, and I also want to open my own safe sex education program for minority youth, so I can decrease the prevalence of HIV in minority communities,” she says.
Now in her senior year, Douglas recently completed an 11-week summer internship with Project IMHOTEP, a public health training program that helps develop the knowledge and skills of underrepresented minority students in the areas of biostatistics, epidemiology and occupational health and safety. The program, which is administered by Morehouse College and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Office of Minority Health and Health Equity, begins with educational training and then proceeds through a series of practical research experiences with experts from the CDC, academic institutions, state agencies and various other public health and community-based organizations.
“I learned so much, including when to step up and lead, how to talk to people one-on-one, network, and speak more professionally as well as in public,” Douglas says of the experience.
Through the program, she also met mentors Tiera Latson and Benita Harris. “They helped me gain connections by taking me with them on their day-to-day activities during my internship,” says Douglas.
She also has found a key mentor through her academic program, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics Kellee White, who encouraged Douglas to apply to Project IMHOTEP and invited her to serve as her research assistant.
“I love all of these ladies with my heart because they embraced me and helped develop me,” says Douglas. “And not to mention, they are all African American public health professionals who hold a lot of weight in the public health field. They have influenced my education by keeping me going when I wanted to give up. It’s so nice to have people in my corner who see my potential and remind me of it when I doubt myself or forget.”
Talk to people. You learn so much about people and their own personal journeys that led them to become public health professionals.
-Jasmine Douglas, public health student
Since wrapping up her internship, Douglas has continued pursuing opportunities to advance her career in public health. She recently traveled to Phoenix to present her research on The Barriers to Preventing HIV positive African American Men who Have Sex Men From Reaching Viral Suppression at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students.
For those looking for similar experiences, Douglas has some advice. “Talk to people,” she says. “You learn so much about people and their own personal journeys that led them to become public health professionals.”
She also reminds current and future students to never doubt themselves. “At one point in time, I didn’t even know how to talk professionally, but I made a way for myself,” she says. “Do not ever doubt your abilities. God put you on this earth to do amazing things, and sometimes it may take a little longer than others to know what that thing is. What’s for you is for you, and eventually, you will find what it is, perfect it, and love it.”
Jocelyn Rogers selected to participate in undergraduate training program through CDC-Morehouse College partnership