SOURCE Alumni Newsletter
We asked alumni, Aita Amaize and Ed Chu, to reflect on what SOURCE means to them as health professional students and how engaging in Baltimore City has had an impact on their education. On this page you’ll find meaningful stories of engagement from our distinguished SOURCE alums:
How SOURCE Shaped a Public Health Nurse’s Career
By Aita Amaize
Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2010
School of Nursing, 2011
I first learned about SOURCE while living and working for Save the Children in the Philippines. A few months prior, I had received the delightful news that I had been admitted to the MPH program at the prestigious Johns Hopkins School of Public Health – the number 1 School of Public Health – where I would finally build a broad foundation for my future career. With the excitement of that news also came notification that I was not among the handful of Sommer scholars who would receive full tuition to fund their studies.
This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as I scoured the Internet for Federal Work-Study positions that would help defray some of the costs of attendance. I applied, interviewed, and was later accepted as the inaugural Program Assistant at SOURCE, even before finding an apartment in Baltimore to begin two of my most academically challenging years.
The JHSPH MPH opened my mind in ways that my previous studies had not. As one of the youngest students in my MPH class, I knew I needed more public health experience. SOURCE provided that and so much more. In my role as Program Assistant, I helped coordinate the Baltimore Practicum course and PHASE internship for JHSPH students, and lead the tri-school community consultant group by the name of “The Connection.” Through my work at SOURCE, I had the pleasure to connect with students, faculty, and community partners, and learned the foundations of community collaboration, partnerships, and public health practice more broadly. My work at SOURCE helped me to connect with Baltimore in ways that a classroom lecture never could.
I continued my involvement as SOURCE Program Assistant during my second year in Baltimore, while I completed the Accelerated BSN program. This program challenged me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually in a way that my previous studies had not. My involvement at the Isaiah Wellness Program – teaching diabetes management classes, helping put on a “senior prom,” and accompanying seniors to their primary care appointments, introduced me to the practice of community health nursing. SOURCE helped me put my nursing coursework in perspective by exposing me to the full spectrum of human health, not just the direst moments of illness.
SOURCE occupies a special place in shaping me to be the public health change agent I aspire to be every day – during my “day job” and in my “spare time”. I recently began a position at Unity Health Care in Washington DC, where I am the Clinical Program Manager for a new transitional care coordination program for the safety-net population with complex health needs. The skills I honed during my time at SOURCE –coalition-building, multidisciplinary collaboration, and program planning and implementation – are crucial to my work on a daily basis.
Since 2011, I have also served as the board chair for OurSpace World, Inc. a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of collective health and wellness. Anchored by a community acupuncture clinic, OurSpace has seen tremendous growth over the last four years, successfully obtaining 501c3 nonprofit status, recruiting an effective board of directors, starting a sustainable food program, and building a student volunteer and internship program. Through SOURCE, I saw first-hand how to work with community partners, develop new initiatives, and leverage stakeholder strengths – all experiences that have helped inspired my leadership at OurSpace.
The tangible skills and experiences I gained while at SOURCE have been foundational to my public health career, and I hope to continue to build on these skills through doctoral studies in public health. During a recent MPH reunion, I learned of the new MPH Practicum requirement with great enthusiasm, and I know that SOURCE played a big part in making this a reality for current and future public health students.
I am so grateful for the many ways that SOURCE has helped to shape my career, and I know that SOURCE will continue to play a crucial role in shaping the future generation of public health practitioners and leaders. I cannot wait to celebrate the far-reaching accomplishments of SOURCE over the next 10 years!
Aitalohi (Aita) Amaize (MPH 2010, ABSN 2011) works as an RN Clinical Program Manager for the Transition of Care Program at Unity Health Care, a Federally Qualified Health Center and the largest provider of primary care services in Washington DC. She also chairs the board at OurSpace World, Inc., and takes care of DC victims of sexual assault and intimate-partner violence as a forensic nurse examiner.
Working with SOURCE allowed me to continue my involvement in community health
By Ed Chu
School of Medicine
I came to Hopkins as a 'non-traditional' medical student having worked for several years in philanthropy and community health. My grantees came from all different backgrounds, from ex-gang members to nurse leaders and, yes, the occasional doctor. At Hopkins, I envisioned opportunities to work with an equally diverse cast of characters. Here was an institution that had hosted the likes of Osler and Taussig, whose public health school was saving lives 'millions at a time', and yet was conspicuously situated in a community where the social determinants of health could not be clearer.
Naturally, the reality was somewhat more complex. The medical school’s free clinic was in the process of being shuttered. The schools of medicine, nursing, and public health, separated by at most a single block, each had their own student organizations working in neatly divided silos. While there was no shortage of faculty who could mentor research, finding those who were given time to support community service was much harder.
Had it not been for Mindi Levin, and her work establishing SOURCE, creating a student organization with participation and funding from all three schools would have been much harder, if not impossible. With help from SOURCE, I was able to partner with nursing and public health students to create Bienestar Baltimore. We created a TB screening program and preventive and occupational health lectures for Latino workers that helped us to be seen as a reliable partner in the community.
Working with SOURCE allowed me to continue my involvement in community health through my time at Hopkins. It kept me focused on my reasons for pursuing medicine and helped me to finish my training with the same determination to combine clinical medicine and public health. As I begin my third year working as an physician and EMS medical director on the Navajo Nation, I was heartened to talk with the current medical school leader of Bienestar Baltimore, Drew White, and hear that the program continues to bring medical, nursing, and public health students together in serving the Latino community in East Baltimore.
Edward Chu (MD 2009) is an emergency physician and EMS Medical Director at Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation on the Navajo Nation in Tuba City, AZ. He volunteers with the Los Angeles County FEMA Task Force 2.