After my short 10 weeks with ARCHI, I’ve learned more than I could have imagined. I’ve taken away both skills and knowledge that will continue to aid me in my journey at Pitt. One takeaway is the fact that change does not come quickly, especially on a systems level, but everyday progress is made and communities are helped around the world. In an academic setting, it can be easy to see the world as what it is, and what it should be and struggle with connecting the two. Many times I have had a defeatist attitude when talking about systems level change, especially dismantling oppressive systems, because the level of change seems unsurmountable. But after working with ARCHI and all of the partners who are doing work within the community, I see that progress is being made, and research is being done to work towards this positive change. Keeping this in mind, it’s easier to see that real change can be made in small increments, and systems level change needs to be addressed, and many people are working towards that. This is not an unattainable goal we only learn in an academic setting, but a real goal that can be achieved through collaborative efforts.
Working with ARCHI has confirmed that I want to be in the public health, but also enhanced my interest in social determinants of health and health equity. I want to focus my studies and my career on health equity, equitable outcomes in social determinants of health, and health in all policies because health is influenced by the many social structures in place, include systemic racism. Seeing that there is a way to work with communities and improve health outcomes and health equity while fighting systems of oppression has been wonderful, and confirmed that this is what I want to pursue.
I have grown in more ways than one this summer, and that is thanks to the support and exposure I have been able to have. Academically, I have research and learned about topics such as narratives in the media, vaccination efforts, public health approaches to gun violence, and more. Social determinants of health and social policies impact our health, and I have learned about the academia and research behind that. Professionally, I have expanded my network to include many new connections in the public health sphere, both in Atlanta and around the country. Connecting with community leaders, academics, and social workers have showed me more about the field and allowed me to build that professional network. Personally, I have learned how to be an engaged listener, and play a part on a team working towards these big goals. Through conducting and presenting research, I have also gained more confidence and grown as a communicator especially when talking about systems level issues.
My time with ARCHI was short, but greatly influenced how I see myself in the future. This summer confirmed my interest in health equity, and my commitment towards addressing oppressive structures and institutions as well as meeting people where they are. I hope to continue this health equity journey at Pitt and beyond, and my experience with ARCHI will be with me every step of the way.