What was the moment in your life when you realized you wanted to explore public service?
Before coming to Brown, I had my mind set on going to medical school. I wanted to become a physician who would provide female reproductive care to women in underdeveloped communities and developing countries. However, my perspective changed as I took more Public Health courses in college. I realized that I wanted to affect change on a larger scale through policy work. Through working in the public service sector, I hope to develop and help implement programs that not only increase access to birth control and female reproductive care, but also create infrastructure that can foster sustainable change.
What are your main responsibilities at your position? What are you looking forward to the most in your position?
This summer I am part of the single family housing team at the USDA Rural Development in Richmond, working on their Section 504 Home Repair program. My primary project for the summer is to gather information about programs in Virginia that provide financial assistance for home repair services to low-income and/or elderly individuals. This information will be used as a resource to help the loan specialists connect our clients with additional resources to rehabilitate their homes. I am most looking forward to meeting the people we are helping at site visits.
How does this internship help you with your professional goals?/What do you want to get out of it?
Although I hope to eventually pursue a career at the CDC or WHO as an epidemiologist, my internship with the USDA Rural Development has helped me grow tremendously as a student. In my courses at Brown, I have focused mostly on public health issues in urban areas or in developing countries, so it has been really interesting to learn more about the barriers and health disparities individuals face in rural America. This internship helps remind me how interdisciplinary the field of public health is. While my project at Rural Development may not appear to directly relate to public health, the safety and health hazards present in most all of the homes we are helping to rehabilitate pose serious health risks and severely diminish an individual’s quality of life.
What motivates you?
My mom’s story—graduating from college without the emotional or financial support of her family—inspires me to continue with my studies. My grandfather’s story—striving for the elusive “American Dream” while struggling with acculturation—inspires me to focus on public health. My belief in tempering idealism with pragmatism inspires me to find solutions that address the social determinants of health.
What is something that most people would not know about you?
Most people don’t know that I am twelve years older than my youngest brother. Before college, I used to pick him up from school everyday, so we are actually very close despite the age difference.
When you get off work, what do you do? What are your weekend activities?
I’ll be honest and say that I began the summer with big ambitions. In addition to making a summer reading list, I also packed five novels in my suitcase. Most days when I get home though, I am too exhausted to do anything more than go to the gym and watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix. On weekends, I really enjoy walking to the nearby coffee shop and reading at the tables by the window. I also go on food adventures with the other Rural Development intern, Abby, to explore the vegan and vegetarian options Richmond has to offer.
Ashley Truong is a rising Junior at Brown University studying Public Health. She is an undergraduate research assistant at the School of Public Health in the Epidemiology department. The project she is working on investigates the health consequences of environmental chemical exposures in pregnant women and children. While at Brown, she has served as the Director of Finances for GlobeMed, and is now the new Co-Director of Campaigns. Her passion for social justice motivates her to study global health disparities and to find solutions that address the racial and gender biases that inform our collective understanding of health.
Meet all of our CAPAL Scholars & Interns here.
Posted by Felicia Wong
Felicia Wong is currently a senior at the College of William and Mary, double majoring in Neuroscience and Asian American Studies, and minoring in Biochemistry. She is president of the Filipino American Student Association, and current non-academic projects include creating films calling for diversity curriculums/requirements and establishing an official APIA Studies program. Felicia was also elected president of Global Medical Brigades to lead a sustainable healthcare program in rural communities in Nicaragua. She hopes to connect her interests in healthcare with the community she has found in her cultural background. Having lived in Germany for most of her childhood, Felicia makes yearly trips back to visit her family, providing opportunities for her to indulge in her greatest joys: touring castles, eating at cafés, taking fashion cues from strangers, cooking with her family. Non-country specific pleasures include: biking, watching live music performances, screaming because Game of Thrones.