CHDI has had the privilege of working with dedicated students pursuing both undergraduate and graduate degrees. In the past students have participated in creating culturally appropriate educational materials, conducting community health assessments, research project design, data collection, and analysis and community outreach. We are committed to engaging with students and strengthening their professional and academic skills during their educational training.

Mandy McLaughlin

As a junior at UW Madison studying biology and gender & women’s studies, I sought an independent study internship with CHDI that would focus on public health research. I have a strong passion for understanding how social determinants of health affect health care access and outcomes across populations. My project focused on rural breast cancer disparities, and the development of a literature review, that supported the implementation of a rural cancer disparities grant at the UW Carbone Cancer Center. My goal was to understand why women in rural areas have a higher mortality rate for breast cancer,and how different barriers affect their ability to access and utilize mammography screening. I was guided by community-engaged researchers and health educators who bolstered my understanding o fhow socioeconomic and geographic barriers, such as out-of-pocket costs, distance to mammography clinics, and an individual’slack of knowledge disproportionately affect rural women. In addition to the literature review with CHDI, I was also placed with one of their community partners, The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness in Madison, where I learned how community-based research meets advocacy and social change. I also gained knowledge and experience about the administrative aspects of running a successful non-profit organization. While working at CHDI and The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, I truly learned how transformative community-based, culturally-informed research can be as a tool to reduce disparities across the cancer continuum. Following graduation, I hope to complete an MD/MPH program to continue my pursuit of becoming a women’s health provider working to eliminate health disparities in underserved communities.

Alex Thomas

I am currently an undergraduate student at the University of Notre Dame. During the summer of 2018, I completed an internship with the Cancer Health Disparities Initiative (CHDI) where I learned about the variability in awareness, access and availability of health care specifically related to cancer care in different populations. I learned about focusing on high need communities and worked on developing effective strategies to eliminate disparities in cancer prevention, screening and treatment with these communities. My main task was working on the 2018 Update to the Cancer Clear & Simple (CC&S) curriculum. Throughout this process, I learned about cancer basics, prevention, and screening and how to communicate this information effectively by incorporating health literacy principles. I also built on my ability to thoroughly research and understand information while considering potential revisions to CC&S. I enjoyed the perspectives and guidance from the CHDI faculty while working through these revisions. Having weekly conversations to talk through any questions or concerns I had about the CC&S updates helped me develop new insights about cancer-related information, health literacy, community health and partnerships.

Throughout my internship, I had many opportunities to take part in community outreach events to raise awareness and disseminate cancer-related information throughout Wisconsin. From staffing a CHDI informational table at Juneteenth (an event celebrated by the African American community in Madison to commemorate emancipation from slavery) to an outreach event at the Ho Chunk Nation’s Pow Wow in Baraboo, Wisconsin, these hands-on experiences helped me understand the importance of public health efforts and community engagement. I also enjoyed my exposure to Native American communities, culture, and traditions by reviewing articles about public health challenges faced by these communities and attending talks by Native American physicians and public health advocates. Directly engaging with communities, tailoring strategies to meet their health needs, and disseminating information to improve health and reduce disparities made my internship with CHDI a truly enriching experience.

Sarah Brown

Sarah Brown, SMPH Class of 2017, shares her experiences being a MD-MPH student at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health while working at CHDI to cultural adaptation and pilot El cáncer claro y sencillo with the local Latino community in Dane county.

Bryan Hall

Bryan Hall with another UW SMPH member.I sought a post-baccalaureate opportunity with CHDI to gain experience in public health and community-based research while applying for medical school. My time with the CHDI team would end up impacting much more than just my understanding of public health. CHDI provided me with leadership opportunities where I learned how to engage and grow partnerships with community organizations, present data to the community, and lead and facilitate meetings—all activities that relate to my personal career goals as a physician. The mentorship I received through CHDI was a crucial piece of my post-bac experience. I honestly believe that my time at CHDI contributed to my success in being accepted to 6 different medical schools.  My principle project was developing summaries of local cancer data for the tribal communities of Wisconsin. I cannot stress the importance of making sure this type of research is conducted in a good way that honors each tribes’ sovereignty. Through my mentorship at CHDI I was taught how to engage honestly and effectively with the tribal communities.