Foundation Interns Reflect on Summer Work

This summer, Rural Forward NC and the NC Oral Health Collaborative had three stellar interns on board. As they wrap up their internships and head back to school, we took the opportunity to hear them reflect on their work this summer.

Rachel Danner, from Chapel Hill, NC, is a sophomore at Brown University. Her academic interests include Public Health and Spanish.

“As a summer Program Associate at Rural Forward NC, I had the opportunity to participate in and contribute to a number of the projects and initiatives that RFNC is working on. I learned so much about interacting with rural community leaders and organizations and was able to grow both personally and professionally. Being housed at the Foundation for Health Leadership and Innovation I was also able to gain exposure to other innovative programs that promote health and wellness in North Carolina. I am so grateful to the Rural Forward NC team and to the Foundation for providing me with these opportunities and for supporting me throughout the summer. I can’t wait to see how these experiences will help me in my upcoming ventures”

Jessica Burroughs, Partnership Manger, Rural Forward NC:

“Rachel Danner has been a tremendous asset to Rural Forward NC this summer. She has focused much of her work in Rockingham County, demonstrating a wide range of skills that has served to advance our work in this rural county.  For example, she developed and presented a detailed list of recreational survey ideas to the Be Healthy Rockingham County coalition, researched recreational funding opportunities for community leaders in Western Rockingham County, and helped facilitate meetings for a new initiative dedicated to developing the local workforce.  She also jumped right into RFNC statewide initiatives. She co-facilitated both the orientation and closing ceremony of the NC Nonprofit Internship Program, and wrote their final report. She also developed a Hurricane Funding Report for RFNC’s Hurricane Mathew Inclusion Group, which was praised for its sophisticated graphs and comprehensive information. We will be sad to see her go, but look forward to staying in touch with her and seeing what exciting opportunities await her as her sure-to-be successful career unfolds!”

Laura Gerlach, from Raleigh, NC, is a sophomore at UNC Chapel Hill. Her academic interests include Health Policy and Management, Business, and Spanish.

“My work at the Foundation this summer encompassed many different facets of health in rural communities, including the social determinants of health. The Common Ground project explored the intersection between the community economic development and conservation sectors. The Employment Equity in Southern States project is geared towards making the policy changes necessary to provide access to employment for all. I also really enjoyed my time in the rural communities with people and seeing how community leaders tackle issues that really matter.  Overall, this internship taught me a lot about the workings of rural North Carolina, as well as what goes on at the community level in general.  I am grateful to have had this opportunity and look forward to taking what I learned back to school and to any future employment I have.”

Brandy Bynum Dawson, Associate Director, Rural Forward NC:

“I was highly impressed by the depth of knowledge and skill level displayed by Laura Gerlach. She was a joy to work with and a real asset to Rural Forward NC and the communities that we serve. I wish her all the best in her future endeavors. I am confident that she will excel!”

Eun Young Oh, from Incheon, South Korea, is a second year Master’s student in Health Policy and Management at UNC Chapel Hill, Gillings School of Global Public Health.

“My role at the NC Oral Health Collaborative this summer has been primarily focused on research. More specifically, researching a segment of the dental workforce – Community Dental Health Coordinators (CDHC) – as a way to increase access to oral health care in North Carolina. In addition, I took part in attending the Oral Health 2020 regional conference in Austin, Texas sponsored by the DentaQuest Foundation to network with and learn from the leaders and advocates of oral health. The most valuable part of being an intern with the Oral Health Collaborative this summer was the opportunity to grow both professionally and academically. More importantly, the support of my supervisors Zulayka Santiago and Suzanne Martin furthered my growth in oral health this summer.”

Suzanne Martin, Director of Outreach and Engagement & Zulayka Santiago, Director, NC Oral Health Collaborative

“It is wonderful when an internship is so perfectly fitted it turns into lasting connections to engage in meaningful work beyond the summer.  That has been the experience for us at the NC Oral Health Collaborative in having Eun Young Oh as our intern.  Her knowledge of oral health access challenges and barriers, research experience, and commitment to oral health equity has been a welcome enhancement to our work.  We feel very privileged to have been a part of her professional development and deeply appreciative of her impactful contributions to our team.  While we will certainly miss Eun Young, we look forward to seeing all of the wonderful things she will do to advance oral health equity at the policy and systemic levels.”