As an intern at the Rensselaer County Department of Health, Public Health major Meghan Carknard ’20 contributes to the health department’s emergency COVID-19 response and to its long-term Community Health Improvement Plan. In this Q & A, she shares how her Sage education is helping her succeed in a demanding internship and prepare for a fulfilling career.

You joined the health department as an intern over the summer and have stayed on through the academic year — please tell us a little bit about your responsibilities at the health department.
At the beginning of my internship I assisted the health department in researching public health interventions for the Community Health Improvement Plan. The CHIP is like a strategic plan and helps set objectives for the health department based on the health needs of the county. It is also an important step in the health department’s application for accreditation from the Public Health Accreditation Board. Throughout this process I was able to attend meetings and trainings that have helped me to learn and advance my knowledge in the public health field.

Please tell us how your responsibilities have changed in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Since the COVID-19 crisis began, my roles have shifted from strategic planning to situational awareness. Right now, it is difficult for individuals to keep up on the latest news about coronavirus, as things are constantly changing. My role is on the situational awareness team, which means that I help update information about COVID-19 so that everyone has the latest information.

How has your Sage education prepared you for this work?
Sage has given me a great foundation to work in the public health field. Through my internship, I’ve been able to see how core concepts from the curriculum are deeply connected to what they do at the health department every day.

Classes such as epidemiology are especially important with everything going on right now, because I have a more informed perspective of the spread of disease

What attracted you to a career in Public Health?
I’ve always wanted to have a career where I can help others. Public Health is a field where you can help at a larger scale because you’re doing things at the population level rather than individually. That’s the beauty of Public Health and something that I was drawn to from the beginning.

What are your long-term goals?
My long-term goals are to work at either a health department or non-profit that works within the same sphere that improves population health.

Learn More About a Public Health Degree from Russell Sage College