Stephanie Ihezie | 2014 | Interns

Stephanie Ihezie (’15)

Irving, TX

Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Theater Arts Majors

American Indian Higher Education Consortium

Through the support of the MIT Washington DC Summer Internship program I was given the chance to intern with the American Indian Higher Education Consortium. The American Indian Higher Education Consortium is an agency that advocates for tribal college students through policy and programming. The project I took part in was the initiation of a behavioral health research network among the tribal colleges and universities. We started the program with a conference in Bellingham, WA on the reservation of the Lummi Indians. During that period, I was enlightened by the concept of historical trauma. I understood how grief can be intergenerational and that the healing process and duration thereof varies from culture to culture. I surveyed some tribal students, prepared a report on the conference, and contributed to the development of a portal to connect the schools participating in the behavioral health research network. From this experience, I gained a greater awareness of the multiple facets that make up the human condition and learned that both present life experiences and events from one's past--particularly family history-- can influence behavior and, thereby, health status. I also learned how community-based participatory research (CBPR) can be used to incorporate evidence-based health interventions in minority communities. By employing the co-learning and co-teaching tenets of CBPR I can be a better scientific ally to under-represented communities.