Authors: Virginia Mason, MPH(c) in Community Health Sciences, Maternal and Child Health and Global Health

Camille Bundy, MPH(c) in Community Health Sciences, Maternal and Child Health and Global Health

Martha Tellez, BA(c) in Public Health

Jessica Jakubowski, BA(c) in Public Health

As members of the 2018-2019 Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Undergraduate Mentor Program, Virginia Mason, Camille Bundy, Martha Tellez, and Jessica Jakubowski were able to attend the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group Gala. The mentors and mentees wrote their respective reflections on their experience at the gala and the importance of being an active participant in the public health network within Chicago.

MCH Mentor Perspective:

Virginia: I had the pleasure of attending the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group (HMPRG) Gala on October 19, 2018 with my fellow Maternal and Child Health (MCH) mentor, Camille Bundy. As mentors within the MCH program at University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Public Health, we were able to attend the gala with our mentees, Jess Jakubowskiand Martha Tellez. I was very excited to attend the event with my mentee, because these events are a great way to see the work being done and learn from the experiences of professionals in the field.

While attending the gala, I was able to connect with a variety of professionals working on public health issues around the Chicagoland area. Personally, my favorite part of the event was to see the many recipients of awards and to hear about the work they are doing. The gala highlighted the variety of topics these recipients are doing work in, ranging from: AIDS, LGBTQ, to mental health. Furthermore, I had heard about Arturo Carillo’s work with Saint Anthony Hospital’s Community Wellness Program in my CHSC 421 class and was thrilled to see he was receiving an award at the event. I am always amazed by all the wonderful work being done within Chicago and the event made me excited to graduate in May and join this workforce!

Camille: Attending the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group (HMPRG) Gala with my MCH colleague Virginia Mason and MCH mentees Jessica Jakubowskiand Martha Tellez was a great way to reinvigorate ourselves in the middle of the semester, where energy and motivation start to decrease. You could nearly feel the energy in the room, filled with public health and medical professionals who were excited about their work and bringing about health equity within various communities. The recipients of the gala awards reflected many different communities as far north as Boystown and all the way south to Little Village-they were especially representative of Chicago’s multicultural background. That’s what I found most memorable about the night! Organizations around the city were being awarded and appreciated for their tireless work in their own communities.

It was an honor to be in the same room with professionals who have done so much meaningful organizing around public health issues. With all the chaos around healthcare reform under the current administration, it’s reassuring to see that many organizations in my city are resisting and continuing to support their community’s most urgent needs.  As an Associate Board Member of AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC), I was particularly excited to see AFC receive an award! These sorts of events remind us why we sit in lectures and complete lengthy homework assignments-because we are the next generation of public health professions. The HMPRG Gala reminded us that we have strong Public Health predecessors and I am even more encouraged to follow in their footsteps!

MCH Mentee Perspective:

Jessica: I am so glad I jumped at the opportunity to attend the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group (HMPRG) Gala. That night, my mentor, Camille, and I entered the gala excited to meet other students who shared similar interests, network with health professionals, and our course, munch on the appetizing refreshments. We quickly gravitated toward Virginia and Martha, a fellow mentor and mentee. I was able to meet some of Camille’s classmates. This was one memorable part for me because two of them had volunteered with AmeriCorps, something I was considering doing after graduation. It was extremely helpful to get first-hand insight about the program. Additionally, I spoke with familiar professors and met some their colleges in the health field.

Like Virginia, I too really enjoyed seeing Arturo Carillo received an award for his work on the Community Wellness Program at Saint Anthony’s hospital. I find it remarkable that he altered their program to be able to extend mental health services to everyone in the surrounding community. He really inspired me to explore that aspect of public health, influencing my decision for field work next semester. It was wonderful to see how much people really do care for others and want to create a better, healthier, happier, society. I cannot wait to officially join the workforce and help make a difference.

Martha: The Health and Medicine Policy Research Group (HMPRG) Gala was my first public health event since enrolling at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) undergraduate Public Health program. I must admit, I was feeling a little anxious—unsure of what to expect. However, my nervousness quickly evaporated once I met up with my mentor, Virginia, and other Maternal and Child Health (MCH) mentors and mentees. Throughout the night I was able to connect with former and current public health professors, as well as other graduate students who share similar interests as myself. It was quite interesting and reassuring to hear about other graduate students’ experiences and to network with seasoned public health professionals.

Attending the HMPRG gala also provided me a glimpse of vast public health achievements and opportunities available to public health practitioners in Chicago. As someone who’s preparing to enter the workforce, it was inspiring to witness a collective group of individuals who share the same public health interests as myself and who are equally passionate about the field. I am truly appreciative the MCH mentorship program extended an invitation for me to attend the gala. The guidance of my mentor and MCH program offered me the opportunity to attend an event that may have not been available to me before.