Neha Shares How CFS Ties Her Interests in Gender Issues and Public Health

Neha Reddy headshotName: Neha

Year: Junior

Major/Minor: Anthropology/Global Health

CFS Concentration: Field Studies in Public Health

My internship at Apna Ghar has been an eye-opening experience that has given me powerful insight into efforts to combat gender-based violence. Apna Ghar is a domestic violence agency in Chicago that serves primarily immigrant women through legal advocacy services, counseling sessions, an emergency shelter, a 24-hour hotline, and supervised facilitation/safe exchange services. My specific project as an intern is to explore the reproductive health needs, concerns, and misconceptions of immigrant women who are survivors of trauma. How do we approach important issues about reproductive health with women who have undergone abuse, and may see their own bodies in a resultantly very different light? I have put together a baseline survey that is currently being disseminated to clients, and the goal is to work with physicians at Illinois Masonic to put together a reproductive health workshop that can be given to clients in early June.

I decided to intern at Apna Ghar because the experience allows me the opportunity to blend together two of my interests: work that pertains to issues of gender and inherent power relations, and public health work that specifically relates to women’s health needs. At the time of making my decision, I was speaking with a few different organizations, all of which offered unique and valuable internship opportunities. I knew I could not go wrong in my selection, and ultimately decided to go with my gut choice. It was also helpful to visit each of the organizations and speak with staff members in-person in order to get a sense of the office climate and what it would be like to travel to the organization; for me, commute time and staff camaraderie were both important factors.

The CFS course I am taking is called Gender, Sexuality, and Public Health, and it relates really well to my internship experience. We will soon be discussing topics related to domestic and sexual violence, and I am excited to share some of the first-hand information I have gathered. I enjoy the discussion-based format of the class, as it allows us all to share our own perspectives in a productive and interesting manner.

Overall, I am very happy with the model of CFS, as it encourages students to value experiential learning through interning in a field of their interest. I have enjoyed the opportunity to go off campus and gain real-world internship experience while still taking classes to compliment what I am doing first-hand. As a student interested in a career in public health, I have realized that learning happens in many different ways, and I have enjoyed the balance between classroom learning and learning out in the field. It has allowed me to play to my different strengths and balance my different interests. I’m excited for a productive and rewarding end to my CFS experience!