It’s hard to believe my time with Face It TOGETHER is coming to a close. As I transfer all my files to the company’s cloud and clean the post-it notes off my desk, I can’t help but reflect on the time I spent here. Over the last 9 weeks, I’ve met some truly wonderful people, learned a great deal about a disease I severely misunderstood, and gained a better understanding of what I can contribute as a public health professional.
At the start of this summer, there were a lot of questions in my life I didn’t know how to answer. I’ve always loved studying public health, but I felt unsure of my minor – would it really be useful? Was I pursuing the skills I would need to have the career I wanted? While I knew I wanted to work in social epidemiology, or the study of social conditions and the impact they have on the spread of disease, I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do in the field.
The work I’ve done and the things I’ve learned this summer have opened my mind to a new part of the field I hadn’t previously considered – biostatistics and data analytics. Working with massive quantities of population health this summer has made me more aware of how malleable data can be. The reality is that with the right statistical test, almost any result can be crafted from a study. I want to learn more about informatics and the intersection of public health, population data, and technology to help equip public health organizations with the most accurate information possible. Face It TOGETHER has instilled in me the importance of data-driven solutions; the first step is making sense of the data, which I hope to learn more about.
I also learned a lot more about addiction, which has played a much larger role in my life than I initially realized. I grew up with a family member who struggled with an addiction, but I never understood the extent to which the disease impacted them and my relationship with them throughout my life. My lack of understanding manifested in a lot of resentment and confusion growing up, but learning about addiction and speaking to others about their experiences made all the difference for me. Working with Face It TOGETHER has allowed me to hone my skills as a professional, but it has also encouraged me to mature in my thought process and compassion for others.
I got to spend a thoroughly enriching summer in a great city in a state I had only ever driven through before this. I will miss the amazing people I met, the wonderfully unique chairs in which I did most of my work, and the never-ending flow of coffee to which I have become accustomed. While my home is 9 hours away from Face It TOGETHER’s headquarters, I have no doubt I’ll be seeing Face It TOGETHER in headlines, journal articles, and maybe even my own community for years to come. I have so much respect and appreciation for the people of Face It TOGETHER, who are doing such challenging, important work and whom I was privileged to briefly call my colleagues.