By Lauren Weston
Over the summer I worked with the Dr. Alison Miller on her research project in partnership with Motherly Intercession. I primarily worked on the Parenting While Incarcerated (PWI) program which was adapted from an existing evidence-based program and provided parenting support to incarcerated mothers through group sessions held at the jail.
When family and friends first asked about my role at the PRC/MI I would start with a long, deep inhale and then fly into a spiel about the PRC/MI, Motherly Intercession, community-based research, and the multiple grants and programs that Dr. Miller and Motherly Intercession’s director, Shirley, have worked on together. From there I’d describe the process I was using to marry the standardized program manuals with the process notes taken during the grant period, turning this into tables for comparison, then into data briefs, and eventually an academic paper.
And then I’d say a little something about creating a new survey tool for Motherly Intercession. Then mention hanging out with the kids at Motherly Intercession during their summer program in Flint. Maybe mention tutoring high school math and dabbling in the Access database software for the first time ever. Once through all of that, I felt accomplished for the breadth and diversity of things I’ve been trusted with, but at the same time I’d feel a little bit alone in the conversation as I’d surely lost the inquirer’s attention by then. So I revised.
Now when asked, I report that I organized data to facilitate a forthcoming paper, saving for myself the excitement I had all summer while developing a battery of tools that have already begun to serve me both professionally and personally. From my summer at the PRC/MI I have newfound confidence in my ability to learn new technical and interpersonal skills, easing a bit of my anxiety about embarking on my career as a public health practitioner and entering communities in the future.
Lauren Weston is a second year MPH student in Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan. Lauren is interested in community-based participatory research focused on the disproportionate burden of disease carried by Americans with lower socioeconomic status. Lauren is also currently working as a research assistant on a study looking at medication adherence among diabetic individuals in Detroit, MI.