Author Serena Baldwin is a second year M.S. student in the Division of Food and Nutrition Policy and Programs.
When the last final exam of spring semester is complete and all term papers are submitted, students at Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy are eager to take their learnings out into the world.
Summer internships provide a chance for students to apply their skills and knowledge to tackle health, nutrition, environmental, and social issues.
Many students stay in the northeast to support non-profits in their local communities or to participate in investigative research projects. Others travel across the globe to work with international development organizations or to support innovative projects in their home countries.
No one tells the story of their internship better than the students themselves, so three students from different programs who worked in different geographic contexts shared highlights and takeaways from their summer pursuits.
Donmonique Chambliss Assesses Diet Related Disease Prevalence among People on Probation in Providence, RI
Given high rates of incarceration in the US, Donmonique Chambliss, a student in the Nutrition Interventions, Communication, and Behavior Change program, recognized the need for greater public health research among people in the criminal justice system. She jumped at the opportunity to be a research assistant for the Probation Office Screening and Evaluation Study (PROSE), led by Kimberly Dong Breen, DrPH, MS, RD, LDN, Assistant Professor and Associate Director, Online MPH Program at Tufts University School of Medicine. The study’s central aims are to assess the prevalence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes among people on probation and to determine the feasibility of using the probation office as a site for screening and connecting to care.
Chambliss’s role as a research assistant was twofold. First, she supported collection of participant’s biometric measures (BMI, waist circumference, blood pressure) as well as blood biomarkers (blood sugar and cholesterol), administered survey questions, and entered these data into the project database. Second, she applied graphic design and data visualization skills she gained during her first year at Friedman to design a logo and handout for the project in addition to an infographic for dissemination of findings
Serena Baldwin Explores Food Policy Advocacy in Washington, DC
For anyone seeking to learn how advocacy organizations influence federal policy, Washington DC is the place to be. Serena Baldwin, a student in the Food and Nutrition Policy Program, ventured to the Nation's Capital to work for the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), also known as “America’s Food and Health Watchdog.”
As a healthy retail policy intern at CSPI, Baldwin’s main project involved validating a tool to assess the prevalence of sugar sweetened beverages in grocery stores. She visited 16 different grocery stores in the greater Washington DC area and led data collection efforts with support from an undergraduate intern. “It was great to get out in the field and feel confident using of the research skills I gained at Friedman,” she said.
“There are so many Tufts University and Friedman School Alumni working in DC, so it was great to meet and form lasting connections with many of them”
An internship in Washington DC wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Capitol Hill. Baldwin was tasked with helping coordinate a briefing on Child Nutrition Reauthorization. The briefing was a great success as it was well attended by legislators and their staff. Revolution Foods provided delicious School meals, which met the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act’s nutrition requirements, for attendees to sample.
Outside of the office, Baldwin attended several events that were organized by the Tisch Summer Fellows Program, which provides funding for Tufts students to pursue summer internships that help build stronger communities. “There are so many Tufts University and Friedman School Alumni working in DC, so it was great to meet and form lasting connections with many of them,” said Baldwin.
These experiences helped Baldwin confirm that she wants to pursue a career in food and nutrition policy advocacy at the local or national level.
Sandra Aronson Supports Sustainable Food Systems in Cali, Colombia
After a cold and dreary Boston spring, not many things seem better than fleeing the northeast for a tropical climate. Sandra Aronson, a student in the Agriculture, Food, and Environment Program, did just that. She spent the summer working for the Sustainable Food Systems (SFS) team at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in southwestern Colombia.
“It was reaffirming to know that the knowledge and skills I gained at Tufts helped me produce useful insights and contribute to the development of a policy engagement tool that could be used during upcoming regional and municipal elections,” said Aronson.
“It’s critical to think globally and act locally for more healthy and sustainable communities.”
The incredibly diverse ecology of Colombia lends itself to a complex and unique food system in each of the country’s natural regions. Aronson’s work focused on developing a diagnostic synthesis to identify current standards and practices that integrate sustainability in the city-region food system in Cali, Colombia. She also conducted and analyzed key informant interviews to understand policy perspectives on sustainability in the food system and the existence (or lack thereof) of supporting governance structures.
Working with CIAT was also personally rewarding for Aronson. She enjoyed being surrounded by professionals who share her passion for food systems and sustainability. As a native Colombian, she felt it was incredibly important to use the skills she gained in the U.S. and apply them in an international context. Aronson continues her work with CIAT this fall in a Directed Study course focused on completing her qualitative data analysis.
As a final takeaway, she said “It’s critical to think globally and act locally for more healthy and sustainable communities.”