Stephanie Saintilien's Internship Experience

Stephanie smiles at the camera. Behind her is a brick wall

MPH student Stephanie Saintilien interned at the New York State Association of County Health Officials in Spring 2020.

“New York State Association of County Health Officials (NYSACHO) members work hard to address the public health needs of their counties and the state. Members who serve as directors and commissioners within their local health department work to advocate for policies that improve the health of their residents by preventing disease, disability, injury, and promoting wellness.

As a NYSACHO Policy Intern, I assisted in this work by drafting position statements related to policies that reflect the organization’s mission and vision. An essential component of my work consisted of providing members with recent information relating to newly introduced policy by the state legislature through fact sheets. My final project was to develop a comprehensive policy review manual that provides our members with direct guidelines when reviewing dense legislative policy.

I was able to attend meetings regarding issues that affect the status or availability of public health services to New York State residents. At the start of my internship, I assisted Executive Director Sarah Ravenhall and Program Director Cristina Dyer-Drobnack with reviewing the 2020 New York State budget regarding fund allocations related to public health services. Early Intervention Services was one sector that was affected by budget cuts. NYSACHO and our local health departments will continue to advocate for necessary fund allocation to serve children between the ages of 0-5 years, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic.

As a Health Policy and Management student, classes like Health Policy Analysis fomented my interest in working at NYSACHO and introduced me to the essential components involved in drafting and implementing policy. The lack of female presence in government and policy is a social issue that needs to change. With a brilliant staff of mostly women, NYSACHO has further incited my goal of pursuing a position in governmental policy that addresses the public health needs of marginalized groups. There is a dire need for more women to take leadership positions in government, and with over 100 women serving in the House of Representatives, I believe we are actively working to meet this need.

When you intern in public health, it is important to remember that your mentors are there to support you through the process. One arrangement that helped me maintain great communication with my mentor was our weekly check-ins. Check-in meetings facilitate the opportunity for you to build strong rapport with your mentor on both a personal and professional level.”