USC Student Intern Spotlight

Posted on March 30, 2012

Since January, TEAM Lab has had the pleasure to work with one PhD practicum student, one MPH practicum student, and four USC undergraduate students. Our student interns have played an integral role of our project. Read about their experience with TEAM Lab here and also again in the next newsletter.

Chantel Ponder, MPH Practicum Student

em_hdsht-ChantelPonder.jpgMy experience here at TEAM Lab has been very informative as well as enjoyable. For starters, I had the opportunity to learn and work on the topic of tobacco, which is a topic I never considered in detail before. This included looking into advocacy for communities to tackle the tobacco industries and developing informative materials that could be distributed. It has been a multi-faceted experience because in addition to the tobacco research and work I was able to work closely with the staff on the details of the project itself. From this experience I was able to have first-hand experience on tasks such as working and editing a progress report. This activity taught me the important and extensive work it takes to continue the life of a grant and I experienced teamwork and support in all the staff coming together to make sure it was a success. One of my main interests involves working in the community. I appreciated how TEAM Lab presented that opportunity in the form of going out to meet committee members and field-testing materials. Overall, I had a very thorough experience where I was able to learn new information as well as tap into my own skills and knowledge. In the end, I walked away being able to say that I was able to successfully contribute to the creation of two toolkits and be involved in an environmental toxic material. I want to thank everyone at TEAM Lab for having confidence in me and exposing me to the professional world of public health.

Jena Sussex, Senior, Senior

em_hdsht-JenaSussex.jpgAs a public health student, I have always seen anti-smoking campaigns as some of the fields most successful work. And being a member of TEAM lab has taught me how extensive the work behind a piece of anti-smoking literature really is. Being part of the field testing team has required me to walk up to numerous people, from all sorts of backgrounds and get their opinions on our anti-smoking brochures or fact cards. What really surprised me about this work was the overwhelmingly positive response people have towards this type of research. Fearing that I might be offending someone who was a smoker, I would introduce myself to someone, ask them if they could give me their opinion on the fact card, and instead of being offended even smokers were in support of the message. There were moms who were outraged at the effects of second hand smoke in multiunit housing on children, and younger men who said they wanted to go around picking up cigarette butts in playgrounds after learning how toxic they are. The common thread through all of these interview experiences was that people appreciate how physically damaging tobacco can be, and view this type of public health work with respect. I have also been working on digital storytelling research. TEAM lab is interested in presenting our anti-smoking associates with the latest and most effective form of spreading a message, and digital storytelling is an emerging medium that does just that. Digital stories are short, low budget media presentations of pictures video and narration that tell a story. They use the power of the human narrative, combined with the visual impact of digital media to humanize and strengthen a message. The beauty is that with the ubiquitous nature of cell phones with cameras, and free online video editing software, almost anyone can share their message this way. I am excited for our webinar on this form of information sharing and hope to work with it further in the future.

Morgan Morrow, Junior

em_hdsht-MorganMorrow.jpgSo far my experience at TEAM Lab has been phenomenal. I have learned so much about the “behind the scenes” planning and the various steps it takes to publish a particular educational material. I loved being a part of the process and have really enjoyed the field testing portion of my research experience. It has been a challenge to approach individuals and ask them for their time. It has also been a challenge to probe people for more information that could be beneficial for improving the educational materials and to find the right research that could be informative to individuals, as well as arranging the information in a clear, attractive, and effective manner; encouraging individuals to look at the material. Besides the field-testing it has been interesting to see how many versions TEAM Lab has to revise to get the educational materials just right, to be truly effective for the targeted population. The amount of information that is incorporated, removed, or rearranged from the materials is very impressive. Before I started working with TEAM Lab I never realized how much work goes into the preparation of materials for them to be effective. I have learned that everyone has a different view of things and it takes a lot of time and effort to meet these specific criteria to the best of our abilities. This experience has given me a different perspective and respect for the work that is put into educational materials not only concerning tobacco but other health concerns as well.

I have also enjoyed the interaction and collaboration of the members in TEAM Lab. Everyone has been very supportive of each other, and the dynamitic of the team is phenomenal because of how well everyone interacts with each other. This has taught me that for anything to be successful you need a core group of individuals who are willing to work with and challenge each other to perform at the best of their abilities. Collaboration is key to the success of any group, for no one person could succeed in this job alone. It takes leadership from every individual, but also requires knowing when to follow others to make this a successful team.

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