Planning for Change in Evanston

Name: Tracy

Year: Senior

Major: Biological Sciences

Minor: Global Health Studies

CFS Program: Field Studies in Public Health

Employer: Evanston Health and Human Services

This quarter, I am interning at Evanston Department of Health & Human Services. Every five years, Evanston receives a grant for their proposed plan to carry out change during this time period. This is termed the EPLAN, which stands for Evanston Project for the Local Assessment of Needs. Currently the EPLAN is for 2016-2021, and contains a long list of goals which Evanston hopes to accomplish by 2021. I perused the EPLAN and found areas I could contribute to during my time here.

Although I am not working at the Civic Center long enough to initiate change, I am making concrete step-by-step plans that will be used by the office after I leave to mobilize change. I’m put on two projects: the first is to develop a guide of mental health services in Evanston and to make the Evanston community aware of the resources that exist. The second is to devise a plan for hoarding mitigation. I actually had never heard of hoarding disorder before, but I learned it is a problem typically in elderly reclusive adults in which they excessively save items. This presents issues because the clutter impedes the way of firefighters and other emergency medical assistance teams. I am currently wrapping up on these plans, and am excited to see Evanston implement my plans.

Chicago Field Studies showed me the importance of “getting into the field.” I got to see concepts I had learned in my global health textbooks such cultural competency, the prevention model, and social determinants of health, materialize in real life. Chicago Field Studies is important to my academic experience at Northwestern because its internships have given me the real-world experience that is crucial to my learning and that can’t be taught in a classroom. I hope to pursue an MPH degree after graduation, and to create change in the health of my community. Chicago Field Studies gave me a great opportunity to gain a glimpse into the life of public health professional and to see what it is like to be a facilitator of such change.