Summer at the Health Department

Sara G.
Sara G.

Hello. My name is Sara Green and I am a rising 2nd year MPH student in the Global Health concentration. I grew up in Massachusetts and attended George Washington University in Washington DC for college where I earned a BA in International Affairs with a minor in Arabic. I worked for a refugee resettlement agency for two years after college, where I was a Refugee School Liaison helping kids and parents navigate school in Virginia. I entered the Peace Corps in Morocco in 2018 and was evacuated due to COVID-19 in 2020. I was a Youth Development Volunteer in a small town near Marrakech. After the Peace Corps, I worked as a Contact Tracer for Partners in Health before I moved down to North Carolina to start my MPH. During my first year, I worked with the Humanitarian Health Initiative as an intern on a domestic project at a refugee resettlement agency in Durham.

This summer, for my practicum I am a Populations Health Intern at the Durham County Department of Public Health. I am supporting the health department’s re-accreditation, a process they must go through every four years to get certified by the state. I am also working on projects related to the department’s strategic plan. So far, it has been great to learn more about Durham County and the great work the health department is doing to do outreach to the community. The Population Health department is still relatively new in the health department, and it has been interesting to see how they are growing and using data to help different projects.

Currently, I am working on a Quality Improvement (QI) project for the Family Planning Clinic, creating activities around accreditation to get employees involved, and helping to organize the Health Department’s policies for the accreditation process.

I have been working a mix of in person and telework, and it has been good to get into an office environment again, which makes it a lot easier to interact with my coworkers and bosses. I look forward to the rest of the summer at the health department.

Outside of work, I have been enjoying swimming in Jordan Lake, lifting, and reading.

-Sara G.

From Raleigh to Paris: Promoting Maternal and Child Health


I start my mornings by opening my laptop and heading to Zoom. Ready to meet with my team in Paris from my desk in Raleigh.

I am completing my practicum with a team from UNC and the École des Hautes Etudes en Santé Publique (School of Advanced Studies in Public Health). Together, we are working on a qualitative sub-study based in a semi-rural area of Benin. This project branched from a previous randomized-control trial in Benin, comparing the efficacy of two prophylaxis options for pregnant women. Additionally, previous work from the team revealed a high prevalence of anemia among pregnant women in their second and third trimesters. These studies raised several questions regarding iron supplementation efforts in this population, especially as iron deficiency is the leading cause of anemia. There is a gap in the literature on effective iron supplementation methods in malaria-endemic areas, especially as the WHO recommends conducting parallel efforts in malaria and anemia prevention in these areas.

This summer, I am analyzing interview transcripts from women in Benin on their experiences with malaria, anemia, and helminth infections. The project has three main goals: (1) to identify women’s knowledge and perceptions of anemia and iron supplementation for themselves and their children, (2) to examine factors that impact adherence to iron supplementation, and (3) to identify potential strategies for iron supplementation in Benin. I am currently developing a codebook before jumping into the analysis and producing a summary report.

With this practicum, I am working to continue to develop my qualitative analysis skills and explore maternal health challenges in sub-Saharan Africa. Additionally, I am excited to learn from the team of researchers I am partnered with at both UNC and the École des Hautes Etudes en Santé Publique (remotely). Overall, I am looking forward to deepening my understanding of structural and social factors that impact adherence to treatment plans and health promotion. I am excited to see where the next few weeks take me!





Hello, my name is Nija Newton, an incoming second-year student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill obtaining a Master’s in Public Health with a concentration in Maternal, Child, and Family Health. This summer my practicum is with The Durham County Department of Public Health (DCoDPH), working with the population health division on the 2023 Community Health Assessment (CHA). This is my second time here at DCoDPH, the first time I interned here was back in 2020 right before COVID-19 was in full affect and I worked on a project for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, informing adolescents on contraception. The purpose of the CHA is to guide decision-making, programs, and policies so that all people of Durham have equitable opportunities for safety and good physical, mental and social health. My job working with the CHA team is to focus on the survey that is going to be distributed to Durham County to collect all the data that is going to be put into the 2023 CHA. I will also be creating a data reference document on Durham County’s health determinants for the health department to use at their leisure to better assist them with easily accessing resources and providing them to the public. Lastly, since a collogue and I are the first group of interns for population health and working on the CHA, I will be creating a training curriculum for future interns. The training will give interns a sense of the internship, what to expect, the expectations, and how to perform effectively. My goals are to gain skills and create lines of connection. It has only been a few weeks and I have fell in love and was welcomed in with open arms. I can’t wait to see what the near future holds during my time here at DCoDPH.