Getting to know my peers

Written by Emily Saxon, student at Michigan State University and participant in the 2019 Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program – Public & Global Health Track

My research in the Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program – Public and Global Health Track, has been with Dr. Rumi Kato Price, Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, as I assist her team with a project on ensuring the sustainability of a grant-funded initiative called the Youth Violence Prevention Partnership (YVPP).

The partnership is composed of organizations in the St. Louis area that all play a role in preventing youth violence in the city; the end goal of our research team is to develop and coordinate workshops that will help the partnership continue its violence prevention efforts into the foreseeable future.

The author with fellow Summer Research Program cohort members.
The author with fellow Summer Research Program cohort members.

During my eight weeks with Dr. Price, I am assisting with gathering data necessary to build the workshops. The YVPP members meet monthly with the aim of strengthening each organization’s ability to meet eight objectives. The National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention has defined these objectives as necessary in order for critical capacities organizations to most effectively prevent youth violence.

My work thus far has centered on revising and distributing a survey seeking to understand how each organization in YVPP ranks themselves on each of the eight capacities.  As the survey responses come in, I will begin analyzing survey results in order to examine a few research questions and understand the strengths and weaknesses of each organization. I will analyze data from YVPP meeting attendance records to get an idea of which organizations may be the most invested in the YVPP cause.

My work with Dr. Price and others collaborating on the YVPP sustainability project has exposed me to literature on effective strategies to build community partnerships/coalitions and the best ways to prevent youth violence, which is beneficial to my career interests in this area. I am also being challenged in a positive way as I go forward to analyze the survey data with SAS; I am a bit nervous because I have limited experience with the software, but I know it will be a valuable experience and provide me with a better understanding of the program and more confidence in using it for future research.

This program afforded me not only academic experience, but also personal connections. I have been enjoying getting to know the others on my research team; they are highly intelligent, hardworking, and friendly individuals.  I feel that the relationships I am building will allow me to reach out to these individuals in the future for school and career advice, as well as possible collaboration on other research projects.  Additionally, I am forming friendships with my peers in the Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program – Public and Global Health Track. The cohort is composed of a diverse group of students and everyone brings a unique and appreciative view to our seminars. These are such bright people and it will be wonderful to see what they will achieve in the future.