Community Health Engagement

UEPI’s Community Health Engagement (CHE) program was developed in 2011 with funding support from Kaiser Permanente, to explore ways in which Occidental College can create and expand public health opportunities for students through course work, service learning and independent study opportunities.

After researching and visiting multiple models for student engagement around the country, and working in collaboration with an on-campus Planning Advisory Group, a community based health engagement model was developed and implemented through the public health practicum class (UEP 307). 

Since 2013, the program has established and sustained partnerships with multiple health serving community based organizations that host Oxy public health interns in the spring, summer and fall. These partnerships support a pipeline of students who fill an ongoing need at the respective practicum sites and allows students to expand public health knowledge while learning communication (written, verbal and cross-cultural), teamwork, initiation and problem solving skills.

"Occidental College has been inherent in the success of our Diabetes Health Education Program by being the point of one-on-one contact for the patient," said Victor Estrada, MEND Clinic Manager. "The promotores and Oxy public health interns have empowered diabetes patients with reaffirming Diabetes Health Education concepts, creating goals, and more importantly, the ability to voice the challenges of a patient living in poverty and with diabetes."

If you would like to host our public health interns, please contact Heng Lam Foong for more information.

What are students saying about their community based learning experiences?

"One of the biggest lessons I learned through the practicum is that critical factors influencing community health, such as education, income level, and environmental safety, are often unseen and unrecognized. Without addressing these issues one cannot advance or improve the health of the public.  The class taught us various skills which we applied in the field and allowed us to see first-hand how public health looks like in action."

Miri Jane Ha ’16 (Diplomacy & World Affairs & Public Health), MEND Clinic

"A huge part of my internship at Foothill was the client interaction. I was able to personally meet and talk to a large percentage of clients, discussing their interests, activities, family situations, and, most of all, needs. The opportunity to find out so much about our clients gave me a new perspective on how much stress the low-income community is under, and how bad the wealth-divide in our country is. I came into this internship knowing that I wanted to go into a field where I can make a difference in my community, and I end the internship with this belief confirmed. My knowledge of public health has improved drastically through my experiences at Foothill, and I feel that I am a better person now than I previously was because of all that I have learned."

Tyler Wilson ’16 (Biochemistry & Public Health), Foothill Unity Center

"I coordinated and co-taught a workshop at the Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness (GLAD) … Planning the workshop was an extensive process, and required strong communication skills. I worked with GLAD’s Healthcare Case Manager to coordinate the workshop, and communicated with her via email and in person with interpretation (she was also deaf). Throughout this process I learned about the needs of the deaf and hard-of-hearing (HoH) community, and how to mold our presentation to meet those needs. I feel extremely fortunate for my time at EWC, as I have been able to utilize and gain many skills within the public health field, as well as increased my knowledge surrounding issues and solutions within community health in Los Angeles."

Emily Applewhite ’16 (Biology& Public Health), Every Woman Counts