As a student intern for CHC, I’ve had a truly remarkable and enlightening experience. I spent the past eight weeks educating myself on the rich history of CHC and their past and ongoing projects. The bulk of my summer was spent working on a project under the Built Environment team that was concerned with the Inglewood Oil Field and its impact on the health of people living in the surrounding Greater Baldwin Hills Community.

I was tasked with collecting demographic data on this population to synthesize, analyze, and present in the form of a community profile that will be used to give CHC a snapshot of who is living in the neighborhoods surrounding the oil field and to begin to understand what they’re experiencing. Furthermore, I was charged with putting together an evidence-based outreach strategy that would provide CHC with a general framework and guidance for how to go about reaching people living within the various neighborhoods of the Greater Baldwin Hills area and increasing their awareness about ways to get involved, including attending CAP meetings. This involved hours of secondary research through USC’s Neighborhood Data for Social Change platform, sources from the LA County Department of Health, CalEnviroScreen, and other academic research databases.

During this time, I worked alongside a warm, welcoming staff truly dedicated to collaborating with South LA communities to make positive, sustainable changes. Although I was just an intern, no one hesitated to answer any questions I had, and everyone was always eager to help me with my research whenever I asked. Because of this, I was able to learn much about how quantitative and qualitative public health data is collected and analyzed to produce stories of the experiences occurring within a place. I also learned much about how public health professionals in the nonprofit sector go about creating and sustaining relationships with local residents, community leaders, and other community-based organizations.

I’d like to give a special thanks to my supervisor, Jackie Illum, who somehow managed to balance her own life and projects while showing me around the Greater Baldwin Hills Area, teaching me about her own professional journey, providing me with constructive feedback on my assignments, and overall ensuring that I got a meaningful, memorable internship experience.

-Bryan Okelo