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SPS Health Policy and Management Student Spotlight: Acklynn Byamugisha ’20

Meet Acklynn Byamugisha, a senior Health Policy and Management major and Black Studies minor. She shares what she learned from her experience as a community impact intern for the United Way of Rhode Island.

Please tell us about your internship experience.

I am working as a community impact intern for the United Way of Rhode Island, which is a non-profit organization aiming to improve and build the community of Rhode Island. My internship has allowed me to learn more about community based and public health. Working in community impact means I am involved in research and finding new ways to suggest a beneficial change in the community. My responsibilities include mainly reading but there are plenty of opportunities to do community work based on your schedule. United Way of Rhode Island is the only chapter that has a mobile unit (2-1-1 truck) to help people with their medical needs (i.e. health check ups, dental screenings, and even HIV screenings) which serves as an opportunity to participate in community work. I attend meetings, contact local health organizations to do site-visits, and email individuals on behalf of United Way of RI. A typical day for starts by meeting with my site supervisor. Afterwards, I will either attend another meeting, read a financial cohort, or meet with the 2-1-1 truck. Another great part about United Way of RI is that many departments are interconnected. For example, I am able to interact with Point (elderly and aging population reference center), MME (medicare and medicaid assistance), and major donors for certain projects.

How are you putting what you have learned in the classroom to use in your internship?

Since I definitely want to pursue a career in medicine, I am utilizing my internship to gain more intellect on community based learning. I know that because of my major, Health Policy and Management, there are several determinants that impact a person’s ability to receive care. Through my internship I am able to better understand in a hands on experience the several ways that an individual’s cultural identity can impact their treatment. 

What is the most surprising thing that you did not expect to learn or experience through your internship?

I have learned that there are so many workplace stereotypes that are untrue (through my experience in internship). At my internship there are employees with colorful hair, exposed tattoos, and they dress in casual wear (jeans) throughout the week. I was always told that in the workplace these appearances were considered unacceptable and unprofessional, and a distraction from carrying out daily tasks. The environment I work in emphasizes the importance of comfort which is what makes me feel welcome. 

What are your future goals or aspirations? How has your internship influenced your goals?

I will be attending the University of Miami in the fall for 2 masters degrees (Public Health and International Administration). After graduate school I am hoping to attend medical school. My long-term goal is to open up a clinic in Uganda, where my family is from, to practice as a physician. Uganda is a developing country and needs extra care, similar to a lot of the people that seek assistance from United Way of RI and affiliated organizations. My internship helped me to solidify that working with a developing community is what I want to pursue as my career. 

What is your dream job?

There is nothing I want more then to work as an physician in Uganda.

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