Public health internship program reaches out to NC’s HBCUs, MSIs

COURTESY NORTH CAROLINA A&T STATE UNIVERSITY
North Carolina A&T State University is one of eight historically Black colleges and minority serving institutions to have students in a public health internship program sponsored by the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Students from North Carolina’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions are stepping into the field of public health through a new internship program.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Division of Public Health launched the initiative with a cohort of 22 interns in the inaugural class. Students were chosen from North Carolina Central, North Carolina A&T State, Saint Augustine’s, Shaw, Elizabeth City State and Fayetteville State universities as well as UNC Pembroke. They will participate in a coordinated, paid internship with the NCDHHS Division of Public Health and the Office of the Secretary.

“Building a strong and inclusive workforce includes training the next generation of public health leaders,” said NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. “People who work in public health are often drawn to making a difference in the world, and we’re grateful these students chose to spend their summer making that difference with NCDHHS.”

The program, which is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act, aims to create a robust and more inclusive public health workforce pipeline.

The internship opportunity is a part of an ongoing commitment led by DPH through NCDHHS to strengthen the state’s public health workforce by investing in increased training and capacity building.

“With this internship program NCDHHS builds upon our strong partnership with North Carolina’s HBCUs and MSIs to engage students in public health early, a crucial piece of our workforce investments,” said Mark Benton, NCDHHS deputy secretary for health. “After this inaugural year we hope to expand the program across the Department and look forward to the deeper strategic opportunities it will foster.”

Students selected for the program are paired with teams across DPH based on their career interests and previous experience. Interns will receive cohort experiences such as shared orientation, extensive seminar series, along with in-person engagement and a mentor with an HBCU background.

“A mentor with similar experiences can make the difference in career choices and the vision of what’s possible,” said Angela Bryant, NCDHHS assistant secretary for equity and inclusion.

North Carolina is home to 10 HBCUs and four MSIs as designated by the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Civil Rights through the US Department of the Interior.

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