We often hear stories of students impacted by SOURCE, but how did their work in Baltimore and with SOURCE programs impact students’ professions and lives after they graduate? Three alumni who worked closely with SOURCE as students share what SOURCE meant to them as students and still means to them today as health professionals.
Not to date myself, but I became involved with SOURCE when the organization was forming. Even though the center hadn’t been named yet, it was a powerful idea—one that changed the course of many lives—including my own.
When I came to East Baltimore as a medical student, I really came to Johns Hopkins. The fact that Hopkins School of Medicine was located in the midst of a blighted, but also vibrant community, was incidental. I came to Hopkins to become the best possible medical doctor I could. Looking back I realize that far from being incidental, East Baltimore—as much as the world renowned Johns Hopkins–contributed to my education as a doctor and also as a person.
What made the difference? SOURCE did. SOURCE—and the people who shaped it—got me out of the classroom and into the community. It trained me to be an HIV counselor and medical Spanish translator at Caroline Street Clinic. It showed me through my first patient—a transgender bisexual individual who peppered me with questions about healthy eating—how medicine is fundamentally about caring for people and that people do not fit into labels or neat diagnostic categories. It moved me to tutor local elementary school students at an after school program where I taught (and made a fool of myself playing basketball with) a shy African-American boy with albinism and a behavioral speech impediment. And SOURCE inspired me to create with my medical school classmates the first annual East Baltimore Community Talent Show—which gave the community a safe place for their children to dance and sing and, as a secondary purpose, come together to learn about the wide-range of community services and programs offered by the University.
Ten years later, I work at a population health management startup company and practice primary care at Mary’s Center, a community clinic that serves low-income and uninsured patients in Maryland and DC. My clinic staff often tells me “Doctor Nundy! Your patients love you!” despite the challenges of a busy and under-resourced clinic and the language and cultural barriers that might otherwise separate us. And while the community I serve is different than East Baltimore, both my patients and I owe our shared understanding to SOURCE—which grounded me with the sense of community and humanity that is foundational to medicine.
SOURCE, happy 10th birthday!
Shantanu Nundy (Med 2008) works with a population health management startup company and practices primary care at Mary’s Center, a community clinic that serves low-income and uninsured patients in Maryland and DC
In the Fall of 2011, I was compelled to apply to Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. I had just finished my MPH in maternal and child health and I saw a career in community health nursing as the key to a future dedicated to providing equal access to high-quality, compassionate care. I was determined to do this work and I had a very strong feeling that Baltimore was the place where I was meant to begin.
Fast-forward three years later, having successfully completed my degree at the JHU School of Nursing, and I am here in this city that I love, doing work that I am deeply passionate about, with people who inspire me. My decision to move to Baltimore was rooted in my desire to eliminate health disparities and advocate for social justice. My decision to stay in Baltimore is entirely rooted in my love for and dedication to SOURCE, the organization that has empowered me to combat injustice through community engagement, outreach, and partnerships.
SOURCE connected me to community leaders and activists with whom I continue to collaborate. SOURCE introduced me to TurnAround, Inc., Baltimore’s primary domestic violence and rape crisis support organization, where I continue to volunteer as a victims advocate in the Mercy Hospital Emergency Department. Without SOURCE, I would have never been placed at Dayspring for my Community Outreach Project. Dayspring gave me the chance to work with the most resilient women I have ever met and to understand how violence, substance use, and negative experiences with the criminal justice system impact our community and add to a fundamental lack of trust between patients and care providers in Baltimore city.
Dayspring also connected me with a dear friend, mentor, and my current supervisor at the Institutes for Behavior Resources (IBR). Without Angela Fulmer, the nurse who served as my preceptor at Dayspring, I would not have learned of the unique opportunity to help implement the new behavioral health home initiative as a Nurse Care Manager at IBR. Because of SOURCE, I wake up excited to go to work every morning. I now spend my days connecting patients with community resources I learned about through SOURCE and advocating for comprehensive, collaborative, patient-centered care. Because of the relationships I forged through SOURCE, I not only continue to question the status quo, I plan to devote my life to challenging the system and making the world in which we live more humane for everyone.
I cannot possibly measure the value of my time with SOURCE. Nursing school was made doable, made exciting, and made worthwhile because of my affiliation with SOURCE. SOURCE gave me purpose and enhanced my passion for public health while providing me with an invaluable connection to Baltimore through community partnerships that continue to show me the value of working together to spark social change and justice on every level. Thanks to SOURCE, Baltimore is so much more than where I live; Baltimore is my lifelong home.
Molly Greenberg (BSN 2014) works as a Nurse Care Manager for the Institutes of Behavior Resources/REACH Health Programs
When I came to Hopkins from New York City, I knew there was a good chance I’d be staying on in Baltimore after graduation. I was ready to leave the city where I’d been born and raised to take on a new challenge. Having been an HIV/AIDS activist, educator and finally clinician, I pursued public health to extend my reach from providing individual interventions to engaging in population-based prevention. As I saw it, my ideal post-graduate position would be in the HIV division of a municipal health department. And the best way to get my foot in the door for my first public health job, while simultaneously meeting the new MPH practicum requirement? Obviously: SOURCE.
SOURCE’s Baltimore Community Practicum – a two-term immersive course that combined academic assignments, seminar-style discussion, and real-world internships – was tailor-made for me. The year I signed up, SOURCE offered exactly one internship at the Baltimore City Health Department: helping create an HIV/AIDS multimedia education program for low-literacy consumers. It was as if the winds of fate had converged to propel me directly toward my goal. The project itself was perfectly suited to my old skills, while locating me right where I needed to be to practice new ones.
Having learned about community-based participatory research (CBPR) through the Baltimore Community Practicum, I took it upon myself to connect with as many members of the city’s HIV community as I could. Thus, I found myself attending the BCHD’s Fourth Annual “Status Update Mini-Ball” – the country’s only House Ball sponsored by a health department. While taking in the Legends and Icons competing on stage, I had an impromptu conversation with the Director of the Bureau of STD/HIV Prevention. My prior clinical responsibilities had included the prevention of perinatal HIV infection throughout my hospital; I mentioned this briefly now in the conversation about HIV prevention in Baltimore, and then thought no more about it. So I was completely taken by surprise when, some weeks later, the Assistant Commissioner for HIV/STD services asked me into his office and said the BCHD was interested in bringing me on board to help eliminate perinatal HIV in Baltimore.
I am now the inaugural Perinatal HIV Coordinator for the City of Baltimore. Thus far, I am part of a working group that includes representatives from city and state government as well as local providers and consumers. I attend meetings of the Commissioner’s HIV Planning Group and am a member of that group’s PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) Working Group. I’ve represented the BCHD at the recent APHA Conference in New Orleans. Looking forward, I’ll be helping draft HIV prevention legislation for the next legislative session. Every day I appreciate how my work is informed at its core by the values and skills acquired through SOURCE and the Baltimore Community Practicum.
I’m so grateful for the launch that SOURCE provided. May these first ten years of SOURCE be only the beginning!
Yvonne Kingon (MPH 2014) works as the inaugural Perinatal HIV Coordinator for the City of Baltimore