Around the Yard: Rosie Poling

Around the Yard: Rosie Poling

Rosie Poling
Radcliffe Heavyweight Crew

You mentioned you're a co-leader of Partners in Health Engage, can you talk about what kind of work you do and how you got involved with the group?
Partners in Health Engage is a social justice group dedicated to the right to healthcare. We try to use our power as students to demand change and work for universal access to healthcare for all. Through meetings with members of congress, letters to the editor, and other activities, we advocate for global and domestic policies to address health disparities. We also work to generate resources for projects ranging from TB treatment to maternal health clinics. Learning is always our goal, with discussions and panels with leaders in the field. I joined freshman year, drawn in by a sense of shared values and passion. I love being part of a club that recognizes their role in improving society. 

Does this group relate to your concentration at all or is the work something you're interested in learning more about on the side?
I’m concentrating in history of science, with a focus on medicine and society. I’m also getting a secondary in global health and health policy. In my classes, I learn about the health disparities that persist in our world, which is very depressing. Rather than feeling isolated and hopeless, Partners in Health Engage allows me to act on the issues and work to solve them. 

Can you talk about one of the most interesting or engaging experiences you've had with the group or an opportunity you think you might not have had being outside the group?
Last winter, I took an advocacy trip to Washington D.C. to meet with congressional offices about a variety of global health legislation. As a Florida resident, I had meetings with Senator Rubio’s office, Senator Scott’s office, and Representative Rooney’s offices to discuss expanding appropriations for PEPFAR (which focuses on HIV/ AIDs) and the Global Fund (which focuses on HIV, malaria, and TB). The meetings were productive and helped lead to higher appropriations in the budget. It was a really incredible experience that motivates me to keep speaking out about these issues. 

What was your internship last summer? Where was it located?
Last summer, I interned at the Center for Child Stress and Health in Immokalee, Florida. According to the research advisors and doctors working at the clinic, many of the mothers in the community often neglected to take care of themselves, despite the benefits self-care provides for them and their families. The goal of the study was to understand the perception of self-care in the community better, as well as communicate its importance. We also evaluated how childhood trauma, depression, and anxiety influenced reception of the materials. 

What was a typical day like or what were some of the most exciting days during the summer?
My role was to help recruit, conduct interviews and transcribe interviews. Due to the nature of some of the questions on the mental health screening tests, this study was also an opportunity to connect women who scored in diagnostic ranges with services they may not have known existed or not thought they had access to. One woman who had experienced a lot of childhood trauma, and scored very high on the depression and anxiety screenings, was able to get an appointment with a behavioral health specialist at the clinic that day, beginning the journey of recovery. 

What were some things you learned while there?
Aside from learning practical research skills, I gained insight into just how much the decisions made in faraway government offices impact local people. Many people in the community are undocumented, and after Trump’s first announcement about increasing raids, an ICE van was spotted at a local grocery store. The clinic was nearly empty for days, as people were too scared to leave their homes. The clinic had partnered with legal services in the community to offer support to those facing threats of deportation, helping them attempt to manage the stress it brought. They were especially focused on children, as adverse childhood experiences are linked with greater mental and physical health problems in the future. Seeing this motivated me to protest at the for-profit child detention center in Homestead, Florida. (It has since been shut down!) This social justice approach to medicine inspires me to work to create individual and structural change.   

Would you do something similar again? Does any of it translate to your future plans career-wise or otherwise?
Overall, this internship served as an important part of my global health education. Aside from learning practical research and health communication skills, I learned more about the Immokalee community and was able to participate in advocacy efforts. As a student in the Global Health and Health Policy secondary, many topics focus on international efforts to close disparities. However, there are clearly problems at local levels. “G-local Health” is a growing movement that advocates for global health at local levels and allows students like me to make a difference.