SOURCE Alumni & Friends Newsletter
Connection Community Consultants Program
Founded in 2005, the Connection Community Consultants Program (often referred to as “The Connection”) was launched in response to students’ desire for more short-term service opportunities in Baltimore. Since then, students from all three health professional schools have participated in these 6-8 week consulting opportunities to address needs identified by community-based organizations. Many consulting projects work on grant writing, performance measurement, and communications consulting.
Over the course of the academic year, SOURCE facilitates 3 rounds of community consultant projects which are carried out by volunteer student consultants in collaboration with a variety of community-based organizations. The article below is a spotlight of one of our projects from this year!
The Connection project with MERIT: Health Leadership Academy
MERIT (Medical Education Resources Initiative for Teens) is a non-profit organization that aims to eliminate health care disparities by transforming under-represented Baltimore City high school students into health care leaders. MERIT provides Scholars with longitudinal career mentoring and three years of intensive high school programming, as well as continued guidance and support after graduation.
In Fall 2016, MERIT looked to transform its practices into a data driven, needs based approach to assess best practices for Baltimore area students. The community consultants conducted a literature review to answer the question: What are the best practice programming areas that will support under-represented Baltimore City high school students and turn them into health care leaders? The consultant team consisted of students from the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health:
- Luke Bonham (MD)
- Clare Huang (MSN)
- Gayathri Natarajan (MSPH)
- Seyoun Kim (MHS)
After the completion of their Connection project, each student answered a handful of questions about their experience with the Connection and MERIT. Learn more about the student’s experience in their own words below.
What is the benefit of working on the Connection opposed to volunteering?
CH: It’s a good place to start if you’re new to research. There are very clear project outlines and it really is a group effort.
SK: You really get to see the nuts and bolts of the operation and get more out of the mission. You’re more engaged and build your personal skills beyond just social awareness.
GN: I feel like it would be hard to identify organizations without the Connection. It’s very streamlined and SOURCE acts as an excellent mediator between all consultant members and the organizations. There’s strong support like timely reminder emails to make sure you’re on track and the timeline and plan is already well developed for you from the beginning.
How did your project help your organization?
CH: We had several interesting findings that Alex said MERIT would be interested in implementing, such as changing the mentorship style from only one to several mentors per student, which was shown to be more effective.
GN: MERIT really wanted to streamline mentoring students using an evidence based approach. Our literature review helped to understand what best practices were, how to succeed in mentorship programs, and identify risk factors that MERIT could incorporate into their own work.
What was your favorite part about the Connection?
CH: I loved being able to get involved at a community level. Even though I might not perceive the results of our project directly, I know that the work will shape MERIT’s future work with the kids.
LB: In medical school, you pretty much see the same group of people for 60-70 hours per week. It was great to see some fresh faces, make friends, and to work on different things.
GN: I enjoyed the team meetings with Alex because they helped to bring everything that we had learned back to the work that Alex was working on so we could really see how our very academic literature review applied to a real world setting to improve STEM initiatives in low income.
To learn more about the Connection, visit http://source.jhu.edu/programs-and-events/the-connection/index.html.