Summer Interns

The Center for Community Health Equity offers an eight-week, 40-hours a week internship program for four highly motivated undergraduate college students currently in their junior or senior year with strong interests in research, health disparities, and community relations. The summer internship is designed to give relevant and needed exposure to students seeking careers in the health sciences and research. Summer interns will be provided a stipend for the experience ($5000).

Summer 2021

Isabella Castillo

Hometown: Chicago, IL
School of Attendance: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
School year: Rising senior
Major: Psychology with a concentration in Behavioral Neuroscience and minoring in Political Science

I grew up on the Southwest side of Chicago and attended grade school in Pilsen. Growing up in Latino communities was both a beautiful and blinding experience for me. After attending high school at a predominately white institution, I realized how many financial and racial barriers exist in the healthcare system. Given that these barriers greatly impact the communities I grew up in, I have a strong interest working towards eliminating health disparities caused by both classism and racism. In school I am on the Pre-medicine track, I am majoring in Psychology, and my interest in medicine is very broad. However, I believe that mental health issues specifically have been stigmatized for many years in black and brown communities due to both cultural and financial reasons. The lack of funding for physical healthcare alone in underserved communities has caused mental healthcare to be wrongfully disregarded and deemed as unimportant.

Therefore, I am very interested in the lack of mental health care in black and brown communities. I also decided to minor in Political Science to learn more about how political, financial, and racial constraints have negatively impacted our healthcare system. I have previous experience participating in research and I plan on bringing the organization, efficiency, and team working skills I have learned to this internship. I want to ensure that our time spent together not only impacts our lives for the sake of gaining research experience but also helps find practical solutions to combat existing health disparities that will promote a fair and equal healthcare system.

Hannah L. Glass

Hometown: Chicago, IL
School of Attendance: The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
School Year: Rising senior
Major: Community Health: Health Planning and Administration – Pre-Med

Growing up between the Austin and Washington Heights communities, I have been able to witness and experience how health problems negatively impact predominantly black communities, often resulting in severe illnesses or death. With health problems common within my family, I decided at a young age that I want to become a physician. While volunteering at different hospitals throughout high school and college, I decided that in addition to my aspirations of becoming a physician, I want to work in public health. I’m particularly interested in promoting policy change and focusing more on prevention. During these different volunteer opportunities, I learned how education, accessibility, and inequality play a major role in why certain communities are faced with so many health problems. If low-income families experience disparities such as: 1) living in communities that lack suitable clinics and hospitals, 2) less resources and lack of access to quality education, and 3) live in food deserts, we are bound to see negative effects.

Even though courses I’ve recently taken and my familiarity with Chicago expand my knowledge on health disparities in the city, I still have so much to learn. I look forward to interning with Rush University Medical Center – Center for Community Health Equity and hope to gain more knowledge through collaborating with peers and learning from those like Dr. Reed with experience in the field. Naturally understanding the impact of health disparities from experience, I hope to better understand root-cause solutions for these disparities.

Dallas Ryan

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
School of Attendance: University of Pennsylvania
School year: Rising senior
Major: Sociology minor in Chemistry

In high school I learned about Bryan Stevenson, an attorney and social justice activist who represents wrongly or unjustly convicted incarcerated people. Reading his book introduced me to disparity work and helped me understand how lawyers and doctors can use their degrees and positions of power to create change in people’s lives who are systemically oppressed. I grew up in West Philadelphia, so during my time at Penn I began to explore health disparities in my city and get involved with community organizations through classes and volunteer opportunities. I chose to connect with my community in a few different ways like tutoring West Philadelphia students, doing research on suicidality in African American youth, and vaccinating Black West Philadelphia residents during the Covid-19 pandemic.

I value direct engagement with the communities that large institutions like universities and hospitals occupy, so I am excited to learn how Rush does that in Chicago. I hope to contribute some of the skills I learned from previous research projects to CCHE and learn how to connect community engagement with research to address community members’ needs. I was initially drawn to Rush because of its commitment to working with community organizations to provide intentional support and services. I’d like to use the tools and practices I learn at Rush when I am a practitioner one day to positively and directly impact systemically oppressed communities.

Ben Georgia

Hometown: Green Bay, WI
School of Attendance: DePaul University
School Year: First year graduate student
Major: Master of Science in Nursing

Growing up in Green Bay, I have noticed over the years that it is becoming an increasingly diverse community. My classmates came from various cultures with rich backgrounds. I want to learn why there are health disparities due to race, culture, sexual orientation, educational attainment, and socioeconomic status. My life experiences have shown me various examples of these disparities. Particularly, the more money an individual has results in better access to healthcare, but a person who is battling the same disease does not necessarily have the same access. In order to solve any problem, the root cause needs to be discovered. Why does money equal better healthcare, why does lighter skin equal better treatment, and what are the true causes of the health disparities we see every day? These questions fuel my drive to help solve problems of health inequities.

I will bring organization, communication, and well needed comedic relief. From personal research experience I know that some days are tough, but as long as my team is able to remember why we started and what our goals are we will be able to persevere and continue to be successful. I also pride myself on my attention to detail and making it known when I have questions or concerns. Lastly, my clinical experience as a Certified Nurse’s Assistant has conditioned my patience which, in a world where dropping by an office is no longer an option, is very much needed while waiting for responses to questions and next steps.

Through this internship experience I would like to gain a greater understanding of health disparities on a larger scale beginning in the city of Chicago. I hope to learn what I can do to help fight against health disparities as I continue my education to become a Registered Nurse. As a nurse, I know that I will be put in situations that require me to proceed with an unbiased opinion and critical eye. I also know that I could possibly come across others on my team that may not have the same approach. Having as much exposure and knowledge as possible will help me work through these situations that may put my patient at risk and would allow me to build on the skills learned while growing in my career. Health disparities have been well documented through established public health research, but it cannot stop at the research point; the problems now need to be fixed. I want to be able to experience this repair in our healthcare system and be a part of the team that is working towards the solution for these problems. This internship will allow me to gain experience while working with people who are dedicated to serving everyone regardless of their race, culture, sexual orientation, educational attainment, or socioeconomic status.

Summer 2020

Marcos Montes marcos montes

School: The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Grade: First-year graduate student
Major: Master’s in counseling psychology; focus on substance abuse and trauma

I grew up on the West Side of Chicago, the west side of Humboldt Park. My family was one of the many first Latino families that migrated during the 1960s to the area and we are still living there. Growing up I was exposed to countless disparities affecting communities of color. This inspired and motivated me to create change to improve the quality of my life. My professional career started at the young age of 18 years old working as an Orthopedic Technologist at a private doctor’s office. I gained an understanding of how to treat patients for orthopedic injures from as young as three weeks to one hundred and two years old. Later I decided to go back to school and become an Orthopedic Physician Assistant. While I was in my undergrad program, a close classmate committed suicide. This was a shock not only for me but for our small close-knit cohort because we did not know he was suffering from depression. It was the death of my classmate that prompted me to reflect on what I am passionate about and my career goals. I became aware that many people in my circle struggle with mental health once I started to have more conversations with them. I reached out to other healthcare professionals in mental health to gain a better understanding and to understand how I can help those in need. This made me reflect on my own neighborhood and many others like it to realize that there was a need for more mental health counselors that look like me, a person of color.

After achieving a master’s degree in counseling psychology, my goal is to utilize what I have learned and to give back to the communities that lack the support they desperately need. Many members of underserved communities do not talk about mental health issues. Many underserved communities do not seek treatment because they don’t recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions or know where to find help. Mental health has become a passion of mine and I want to be able to bring more awareness to these issues, especially those the underserved communities who suffer from substance abuse and trauma. I feel empathy for those I’d like to help for many reasons, paramount is the fact that I see people who look and have grown up like me. I can stand in their shoes and I can help.

Kalia McRoykalia

School: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Grade: Rising Senior
Major: Psychology with a minor in Health & Society

Growing up on the South Side of Chicago in a predominantly Black neighborhood, I was not quite aware of the many disparities we face. I was surrounded by faces that look like me all the time, so I thought everything was normal. It was not until high school when I truly realized the many differences in health care access, education, food, etc. that we were subject to due to living in a minority community. Once I went to college, a predominantly white institution (PWI), I was made even more aware of the inequalities faced by the people of color (POC) community compared to the majority, despite being in the same space that is devoted to “equality”.

My psychology research interests focus on adolescents and how life experiences can affect developmental patterns, particularly in minorities. As research has proven, early life experiences can strongly impact an individual’s future, but I question what mechanisms, whether physical, mental, emotional, or environmental have the greatest impact. I added Health & Society as my minor because I wanted to learn more about the many health inequalities present in the US and around the world. Health disparities are also widely present in mental health, so I hope to address this in my future career as a Counseling Psychologist as well as in volunteer work for organizations focused on addressing and reducing health disparities in low-income communities.

Neel Matiwalaneel

School: Saint Louis University
Grade: Senior
Major: Investigative and Medical Sciences and minoring in Biology

Volunteering in the St. Louis and Chicago communities opened my eyes to the systemic disparities in health and education due to socioeconomic class. I was shocked by the lack of quality care and unequal distribution of resources. My experiences working in free clinics and public high schools have piqued my passion for preventative medicine and helping patients navigate systemic barriers and inequitable resources. Understanding the barriers plaguing our communities has been a task in itself, but finding a solution is even more complicated. I am really excited for this opportunity at RUSH because I will be able to develop a stronger understanding of the socioeconomic barriers faced by the community of Chicago, while getting a first-hand look at positive solutions that have been improving the community’s outcomes.

I hope to apply the knowledge and skills I learn from this internship towards the communities I work with in the future. I plan on attending medical school and following a career centered around alleviating socioeconomic barriers to health resources and creating healthier, empowered communities.

Dureti Godanadureti

School: University of Illinois at Chicago
Grade: May 2020 Graduate
Major: Biological Sciences

I have always had a strong passion for ideas surrounding equity. For the duration of my college career I lived on the West Side of Chicago and saw the disparity in educational opportunities. On the main intersection of Lexington and Western street there are two different narratives. When heading North on Western, there are more affluent neighborhoods and new businesses. While going south on Western empty lots, brown grass and dilapidated school grounds illustrate the strong divide of gentrification, especially in education. I view education as a gateway to success and I saw firsthand that not everyone has that opportunity. This inspired me to then pursue a minor in public policy to answer the question why disparities are present. I plan to pursue the intersection between disparity and health policy and will be attending Boston University School of Public Health in the fall focusing on Health Policy.

My interest in research related to equity was ignited by my experience in the Summer Opportunities Research Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne in which I examined the impacts of historical trauma on coping mechanisms and identity formation of single mothers in Englewood, a neighborhood located on the south side of Chicago. I was fortunate enough to study transcribed interviews where the mothers had elaborated on their situations and the role their hostile environment had on their children’s health as well as their own health outcomes. This experience opened my eyes to the necessity of advocacy and bridging the gap between community and research.

Summer 2019

Dominque DilworthDominique

School: University of Illinois at Chicago
Grade: Senior
Major: Integrated Health Science and minoring in Sociology

I grew up on the West Side of Chicago. Growing up in Humboldt Park, I was exposed to a myriad of disparities affecting communities of color. This inspired and motivated me to create change to improve the quality of life for those in communities like my own. My educational and professional goals include obtaining a master’s degree in Physician Assistant Practice, volunteering at a local free clinic long-term, founding a health-based community center on both the South and West sides of the city, and joining a non-profit organization that works to reduce the consequences of healthcare disparities for people of color.

My interest in research was cultivated when I took Health & Medicine during my junior year at UIC. In this class, we studied both distal and proximal causes of health inequalities while brainstorming potential solutions. In this class, I was able to conduct a case study about maternal and fetal mortality for Black women in Chicago. My research was then presented and discussed during the final weeks of school. In all, this opportunity allowed me to develop my research skills and expand my understanding of intersectionality within U.S Society. I am excited for the opportunity to join the RUSH family and assist with a research project that aligns with my values and interests.

Alexia LegginAlexia

School: Occidental College
Grade: Sophomore
Major: Cognitive science and minoring in Spanish

I graduated from St. Ignatius College Prep, and I am from the Austin area of the West side of Chicago. Early on I realized that, because of my community, I was limited in resources to catapult my academic career and development. Taking note of this , I utilized Rush’s career development programs (ie: SAME Network, REACH) to indulge myself into the more professional world where I was able to see my dedication to academia present itself.
Throughout my years of involvement I’ve come to find that I am heavily interested in learning about the relationship between medicine and the African American community, the dynamic of the hospital on an individual level and how that translates to a collaborative effort, and how my passion for writing can still be an effective tool within a strictly structured STEM field. I have even come to enjoy the subtleties of my medical journey such as learning and applying medical terms in the workplace, developing long-lasting relationships with those that would not normally be in my social realm, and watching the role of every professional at different stages of the medical journey (ie: an attending, medical student, resident, etc). Because of these qualities and experiences, I was certain that I’d be a pre-med student throughout my college career.

I hope to attend medical school to work towards a career concentrated in neuroscience. Throughout my lifetime my older brother battled with schizophrenia, and for many years that has been a battleground for my family. I often hold this experience close to my heart and understand that everything I strive for is in light of his purpose. I hope to take this and use it to fuel my progression towards finding answers with neurology.

Nancy WuNancy

School: University of Michigan
Grade: May 2019 Graduate
Major: Biopsychology, cognition, and neuroscience

I was able to conduct research on vascular proteins within brain disorders and improve current treatment and disease models for stroke patients. In addition, I had the opportunity to be a part of Michigan Active Citizens: Alternative Spring Break (MAC-ASB) and study public health in Peru as well as South Africa. It was through these experiences that allowed me to gain knowledge on public health systems within and outside of the US and the factors that determine the quality and accessibility of healthcare individuals are receiving. With these experiences, I am eager to apply them to this internship as well as learn more about health disparities among underrepresented groups in Chicago.

In the future, I plan on pursuing a PA/MPH and, ultimately, hope to contribute on reducing health disparities and improving access to quality healthcare among underrepresented individuals within Chicago.

Moriam YarrowMoriam

School: University of Illinois at Chicago
Grade: Senior
Major: Neuroscience

My entire life I have always wanted to be a doctor, but it wasn’t until I entered college that I wanted a bigger role in caring for patients. My research at Cook County Hospital has opened my eyes to the many issues that occur in healthcare. Therefore, I wanted to pursue a career in healthcare administration to have a larger impact on the patient population, and the roles that doctors play. The experience that I have with the underserved community has shown the stark differences in care. The health disparities gap needs closing. My goal is to utilize my career and experiences to aid in the closing of this gap.

Summer 2018

Autumn GantAutumn Gant

School: Beloit College
Grade: Senior
Major: Anthropology

I am a resident of Chicago, which has allowed me to experience first-hand the health systems and disparities in the city that I want to help make more equitable. I am also heavily involved in the activities at Beloit College’s Office of Academic Diversity and Inclusiveness (OADI) and a participant in the McNair Scholars Program, which has allowed me to learn about systemic inequalities in academia. I am excited to bring both of these experiences together to delve deeper into the causes and effects of trauma and health disparities on underrepresented populations. I love being able to contribute to the promotion of equitable health care in my community, and gain more knowledge in the health field from prestigious professionals so that I may take that knowledge to my current institution, family, and friends. This experience will be preparing me for my PhD in psycho-socio anthropology, which I plan to use to make Chicago a more equitable place.

Karla GomezKarla Gomez

School: Grinnell College
Grade: Senior
Majors: Psychology and Russian

I am a senior at Grinnell College majoring in Psychology and Russian. My interest in education equity and mentoring minority youth led me to discover public health and health disparities. This internship combines these two perfectly, and I am excited to learn how we can tackle these issues in our community.

Cierra RobinsonCierra Robinson

School: Northern Illinois University
Grade: Senior
Major: Biological Sciences

My goal in life is to become a physician specializing in anesthesia and later start my own practice. I have been a part of the SAME program at Rush for more than ten years, and have experience working in departments like the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Case Management, and the Psychiatric Acute Care Unit. Understanding the importance of working collaboratively in group settings, I’m always eager to share my ideas and take on leadership roles. I hope to showcase my talents and skills while gaining useful healthcare experience.

Robert Tavory RobinsonRobert Tavory Robinson

School: Beloit College
Grade: Post Undergraduate
Major: Business Economics
Minor: Studio Art

I bring an entrepreneurial spirit to my work and projects. I have demonstrated leadership potential in my work experience and extracurricular activities. I hope to learn the strategies as a health expert and learn the ways to apply my efforts to prevent health disparities mostly seen in my community. My favorite color is blue, I love Chinese food, and I love supporting my family/friends entrepreneurial endeavors. I hope to own several businesses one day, and rehabilitate my community.