Fostering a Greater Understanding and Appreciation for Public Health through Internships

Over the summer, the CDC Foundation provided 24 undergraduate and graduate students from schools across the country the opportunity to work as interns in the public health field. This year’s team of students, including myself, were placed in various teams and departments within the Foundation and were able to apply the skills we have learned from our institutions in hands-on ways. Sean McPherson, a 2024 accounting major at Georgia State University, said it was a “welcome surprise to see how I’m able to connect what I’ve learned through my major with the work I’m doing.”

With majors ranging from public health to business to psychology, this summer’s team of students have been able to provide valuable insight into their respective programs. Departments throughout the Foundation, including the president’s office, infectious disease programs, finance and health equity have benefited from these students and their unique perspectives. 

Although mostly virtual, several students, including myself, were able to brave the rush hour traffic and spend time in our Atlanta office, allowing them to meet their teams in person. The Foundation has been incredibly welcoming to us, and many students reflected on how the relationship they’ve developed with their mentors has left a lasting impact on them. Cindy Yan, a 2024 medicine, health and society student at Vanderbilt University, said that “despite being a college student working alongside more experienced professionals, I think everyone has been incredibly helpful in guiding me and providing valuable feedback for my personal and professional growth. This positive and encouraging atmosphere has made the learning and working process enriching.”

While at the Foundation, we were given the opportunity to be involved in several projects. These projects included the White House Challenge to End Hunger and Build Healthy Communities, the Domestic Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Project, donor stories, toolkits for climate and health risks and countless others. Through assisting in these projects, students such as Nneka Odimgbe, a 2023 Public Health student at Georgia State University, were able to conduct research, attend meetings, develop new strategies and draft articles.

Odimgbe explained that her favorite experience was being able to attend meetings and “learn about efforts toward helping communities and addressing issues related to food insecurity. I was fortunate to meet different health officials and learn about effective ways to approach aiding communities in providing valuable resources.”
Students were also involved in behind-the-scenes work, interning with IT and accounting to help keep the Foundation running. Soliyana Ahmed, a Georgia State University student studying data analytics, worked with IT to streamline the onboarding process, and Zachary Ravel studying finance and accounting at Emory University worked with accounting in revenue recognition, matching bank data and other accounting tasks. 

My time at the CDC Foundation has given me valuable insight into how public health works. While working with the Communications Department, I was able to see first-hand just how much goes into effectively communicating the work that the Foundation does. Being involved in writing articles for our social media platforms as well as for the Contagious Conversations podcast allowed me to grow as a writer and gain a deeper appreciation for the work done at the Foundation.

Katelynn Singleton is a CDC Foundation intern
Katelynn Singleton is a former communications intern for the CDC Foundation.