TEAM Lab Student Spotlights (July 2012 to June 2014)

Posted on June 23, 2014

Melisa Acoba InternMelisa Acoba, Masters of Public Health Practicum Intern
At TEAM Lab, I had the opportunity to create smoking cessation materials for the behavioral health population and to contribute to an anti-tobacco policy advocacy toolkit with fact sheets on coalition building and community organization. Not only did I gain more in-depth knowledge about these issues through my research, but I also loved the challenge and creativity involved in the development process. As an MPH student in the Health Education and Promotion track, I took a class on health communications. Here, I’ve gone on to apply those lessons in a real world setting with feedback from the California Tobacco Control Program. This has been an extremely rewarding experience that I feel has prepared me professionally, as I transition to a career that involves health education materials development.

Martin Arredondo, Health Promotion Directed Research Intern
My research with TEAM Lab as an undergraduate assistant has been a great learning experience. I have been granted the opportunity to work on several projects that deal with tobacco awareness in several fields and demographics. My responsibilities range from reviewing and editing tobacco materials to creating PowerPoint presentations that will help others create educational materials. I have also been able to perform a bit of field-testing by administering intercept interviews in order to provide feedback on some of the educational materials that TEAM Lab is working on.

I enjoy working under the supervision of an experienced staff because I am able to learn and cultivate my skills through teamwork and dedication. The projects I work on with TEAM Lab are constantly changing and transforming, so I am able to work in diverse fields that allow me to learn about several areas. The experience I have gained with TEAM Lab will surely be beneficial in my future career as a health professional.

Kevin Cook Intern Kevin Cook, Health Promotion Directed Research Intern
TEAM Lab has given me an amazing opportunity to learn more about the inner workings of materials development. I had chosen to conduct research with this organization because the idea of using creativity to influence and educate others about the dangers of tobacco and nicotine was very appealing to me. While I was working at TEAM Lab, I learned about the many different kinds of materials that are developed to help educate the general public, as well as specific audiences, and about what makes a material successful—from research to design, and the importance of field-testing. I learned that one of the most important aspects of a material its literacy level. It is important to make concepts easy for everyone to understand. One topic that I had an opportunity to work on, and that is very relevant in popular culture today, was electronic cigarettes. The research that I, as well as other fellow interns, found on this topic was eye opening in the sense that they are an unregulated product and still contain a variety of toxins dangerous to human health. We went through the entire process of development: determining what message we wanted to convey, researching the topic, making drafts and designs of the material, making several revisions, and finally field-testing a completed material. The response we received in field-testing was astoundingly positive for beginners who had never created a tobacco education material before. From the feedback we received during field testing, we recommended some final changes that should be made to the material before field testing again to make the material more effective.

The overwhelmingly positive experience that TEAM Lab provided, including all of the support from the staff members, and the opportunity to see a material develop from start to finish using concepts and skills I had learned in class and during my internship was an invaluable experience for me as a health promotion student. I hope to be able to volunteer at TEAM Lab again and learn more about material development in public health.

Valentin De Anda, Health Promotion Directed Research Intern
I started working with TEAM Lab during my sophomore year and continued with the project through my junior year. This project allowed me to become familiar with the topic of tobacco use, which is an issue that I have always been very passionate about learning more. During my two semesters at TEAM lab, we created several materials to inform the general public about the dangers of the tobacco industry. Additionally, I became close to the staff and they guided me through several tasks that helped cement my skills as a researcher. From time to time, I translated materials from Spanish to English. This was vital in maintaining good Spanish speaking skills. My writing skills also improved greatly. Moreover, I enjoyed looking for information online that would be integrated in the toolkits. This helped me learn to navigate the online databases in order to obtain information I needed from scientific journals. TEAM Lab is very community based, which meets one of my greatest interests. I enjoy giving to the community and I learned that the best way to give is through materials that can serve to educate.

Working with TEAM Lab has truly been a fun and enriching experience. Being part of the team has allowed me to learn more about myself, working with others, and—most importantly—it has helped me discover my passion for Health Promotion. I am joyful to have had the opportunity to participate and give my input on two of the toolkits, and several other materials that were created. Whether it was working on secondhand smoke materials or material developing tips, I learned that by working together, great materials can be created to teach many uninformed individuals the effects of smoking. I want to thank TEAM Lab for believing in my work and being there for me when I needed help understanding the process of material development. It truly was a privilege to work with TEAM Lab.

Robert Gomez Intern Robert Gomez, Public Health Practicum Intern
My experience working with TEAM Lab was amazing and it gave me the opportunity to work with a great group of individuals who really know their work. While working with TEAM Lab, I was able to put into practice skills I learned through the MPH program as well as learn new ones. During my time with TEAM Lab, I gained a better understanding of how state funded agencies tackle the issue of tobacco control using an educational and policy approach. This gave me the opportunity to work in the process of community advocacy and tobacco education material development, which was something I previously had little experience in. Overall, my experience with TEAM Lab gave me the opportunity to gain real life experience and apply what I have learned in school.

Joanne Ku Intern Joanne Ku, Masters of Public Health Practicum Intern
My experience with TEAM Lab has been wonderful. At first, I questioned whether I could be of any help to the team; however, all the staff at TEAM Lab were willing to train me and provide me with constructive feedback on my work. Whenever I stopped by Yaneth's office, she was happy to see me and gave me opportunities to be exposed to various projects. Although I did not have much experience with creating tobacco-related materials when I first started, I am now equipped with many skills such as creating infographics, writing evaluation reports, field testing, finding literature, communicating with diverse people, and many more. I thank Dr. Baezconde for introducing me to the team and all the staff at TEAM Lab (Yaneth, Rosa, Aurora, Rhonda, and Kenneth) for giving me this valuable experience.

Ozzy Obiwuru, Health Promotion Directed Research Intern
A few months ago I began the search for a research opportunity, driven by my passion for health promotion and prevention—especially in the greater Los Angeles area. Fortunately, the search ended when I found TEAM Lab, a research project that aims to provide targeted and tailored tobacco education materials. As an undergraduate research assistant for TEAM Lab for the past few months, I have first and foremost learned a great deal about the tobacco industry and the importance of educational materials that span across various racial/ethnic and age-specific audiences. I have been challenged to help develop materials that are concise, visually appealing, and reading-level appropriate. I work alongside an amazing group of TEAM Lab researchers who have modeled the key steps in the revision process so integral in research. Through conducting intercept interviews, I have learned how to effectively field test materials to evaluate their suitability. TEAM Lab has been a wonderful educational experience for me, and I know the skills I acquire here will help me in future endeavors.

Lauren Partain Intern Lauren Reny Partain, MSW/MPH Practicum Intern
The past few months spent working with TEAM Lab have taught me so much about the materials development process and helped me develop my skills in health education, promotion, and especially communications. I joined the team at a unique time that has allowed me to gain experience in a broad range of activities. In the first week, I learned how much groundwork goes into securing grants and contracts by reading over TEAM Lab’s scope of work, reviewing and editing progress reports, and organizing deliverables to match goals and objectives. From there, I dove into the social media campaign by developing specific policies and procedures to enhance how the group uses social networking sites. I even got the chance to write my own blog posts, including a commemorative piece on the late Debi Austin. The second half of my time was spent on the CTCP’s new Retail Environment Campaign. It’s incredibly exciting to be a part of this project at its start and I’m learning just how much effort goes into the campaign process. From researching current resources to developing new brochures from the ground up, I’ve gained such amazing experience that will help me throughout my career in public health and social work.

Beyond the knowledge I gained, I’ve loved getting to know the incredible TEAM Lab staff. These women are wonderful mentors who have dedicated their time and energy to teaching me the ins and outs of material development in the most welcoming environment. I will miss seeing them each week!

Evan Pye, Health Promotion Directed Research Intern
Working at TEAM Lab has been a great experience and has offered valuable insight into what it takes to raise awareness and promote health in the field of tobacco retail. As a global health student, I have always been concerned about the huge number of preventable deaths that tobacco is responsible for throughout the world. While tobacco affects people globally, it is not exclusive to the poor or the uneducated. It is as much a problem at home in Los Angeles as it is in the developing world.

I have had the opportunity at TEAM Lab to be involved in creating and evaluating some of the materials that prevent tobacco usage. The work has been mostly made up of finding the most useful information and figuring out how to present it in a way that will affects people's behaviors towards tobacco. Whether it is helping retailers prevent youth from buying their first pack of cigarettes, or highlighting the association between minorities and proximity to a tobacco retailer, TEAM Lab is an extremely important component of the anti-tobacco effort.

I have greatly enjoyed the variety of work and the on-the-job training that came along with it. Working with older graduate students—Oscar and Lauren—taught me so much more than I expected. I have become much more familiar with Excel worksheets, design software, film techniques, and secondary literature research. I have also been able to lend my expertise in some emerging technologies such as Prezi, the online presentation software. My time at TEAM Lab has been challenging, exciting, and extremely helpful in developing my skill set in public health research.

Quincy Roberts, MPH Practicum Intern
I immediately felt welcomed by the staff at TEAM Lab, as they were all very friendly and would incorporate me in their work, discussions about future projects, and problems involving the current project. When they were discussing matters I did not understand, Yaneth would always provide me with the necessary background information so that I could participate in the discussions or meetings. Additionally, TEAM Lab welcomed my input and requested my feedback on projects, which in turn demonstrated my value towards the team. As a result, it made me feel very comfortable with my surroundings.

I really valued the team’s dedication, meticulousness, intelligence, creativity, and overall jovial nature. The camaraderie among the team members was truly a blessing. It has been a pleasure working with TEAM Lab, as I have been able to broaden my knowledge on many topics related to tobacco control and health in general by working on various projects; attending staff meetings and discussions; and even attending seminars, webinars, and talks.

I would like to thank all the members of the staff for welcoming me with open arms, placing their faith in me to complete tasks, training/supervising their HP490 undergraduate interns, and encouraging my professional development with their assistance and critiques.

Jenna Young Intern Jenna Young, Health Promotion Directed Research Intern
My time with TEAM Lab this past semester has provided me not only with hands-on, behind the scenes experience in the health promotion field, but also a new perspective on how socially dependent disparities I have learned about in class actually unfold in reality. When developing campaigns and educational materials, particular attention must be paid to ensuring the accessibility of the information. All too often, a lack of awareness of what constitutes high-risk behaviors creates a barrier to health, and this barrier falls heavier upon disadvantaged groups. Factors such as comprehension of information are contingent upon the educational attainment levels of the audience, and I understand now the importance of maximizing access to these materials. One of the first tasks I had at TEAM Lab was conducting a readability test of a material and editing the document to be accessible to lower literacy groups. Understanding the audience has been a reoccurring theme throughout my time here, and TEAM Lab aims to ensure that those who are often at greater risk can have access to equitable health education.

Working in tobacco prevention was personally meaningful as my grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer caused by years of smoking. I am very content with the contribution I was able to make this semester in tobacco education, especially since I was given the opportunity to research such generationally dependent tobacco issues as electronic cigarettes and flavored tobacco. At the beginning of my internship, I was not entirely sure exactly what a material was; now I have just finished working on a collaborative material of my own. Looking back, my growth each week been tremendous. I was always working on something a little different, a little more challenging. One of the greatest parts of this internship was the learning process; I was given the opportunity to discover for myself health promotion in real life scenarios—something with which PowerPoint presentations and textbooks cannot compare.

TEAM Lab Student Interns:

Danielle Brito
Health Promotion Directed Research Intern

Hadley Greswold
Health Promotion Directed Research Intern

Oscar Gutierrez
MSW/MPH Practicum Intern

Jessica Lee
Art Center of Design Graduate Intern

Raquel Carla Martinez
Health Promotion Directed Research Intern

Michelle Nguyen
Masters of Public Health Practicum Intern

Anthony Wong
Health Promotion Directed Research Intern

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