Adetomiwa: The Reflections of a Summer Intern
This summer we had the opportunity to work with two interns that helped continue development and pilot testing of the Digital LinCS platform. One intern, Brittany Wiafe, is a Morehead Scholar at UNC and extended her time with us for the remainder of her academic year! The other, Adetomiwa hopped a flight back to Brooklyn, but he left us with a thoughtful reflection on his experience working on Digital LinCS and HIV in Durham this summer:
For a young professional, summers mean the opportunity to tread into exciting new spaces. As a new experience this summer, I’ve had the chance to explore public health through interning with the Digital LinCS team. These past few months of research and collaboration have quickly opened my mind to the work of improving lives.
When I learned that I would be working on an HIV-related “novel digital tool,” I both had absolutely no idea what that meant and didn’t know what to expect. But I soon learned that Digital LinCS—a website platform created by my mentor, Dr. Allison Mathews and her business partners, Marcus Hawley and Alexandria Anderson—is a creative new way to link people to HIV care. My job was to pilot test the software and get feedback from important people in the linkage to care process.
Working with Community Expert Solutions to pilot test Digital LinCS has grown me in more ways than I can count. Firstly, because my project revolved around user feedback, I was able to spend my summer doing hands-on work talking with people in the community. Durham, North Carolina proved an insightful place to gain a better understanding of combating HIV/AIDS in a local area. From serious conversations about the disease to the often hilarious talks surrounding safe sex, I was able to engage people and cooperate with them to improve their health.
Even beyond the community work, Digital LinCS exposed me to the collaborative side of public health. Like the awesome mentor she is, Dr. Mathews did not equate her interns to background props but rather wanted us to attend business meetings and even expected our input. Due to this I was able to be a part of conversations with the county health department, hospital clinic directors, investors, and more. These meetings let me practice talking about my project with important stakeholders, more than preparing me for the weighty presentations I later gave at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Morehouse College.
Here are my three main takeaways from the summer. First, improving lives requires collaboration. No one entity has all the knowledge or resources to make the largest possible impact—many more lives can be changed if we all work together. Secondly, the communities in which we work are not just dropping grounds for our ideas and interventions, but rather a source of immense insight. Talking, but more importantly, listening, is the only way public health professionals can understand what communities truly need. Lastly, but certainly not least, solving complex problems often involves creativity and the initiative to bring new ideas into fruition. Digital LinCS fully embodies that goal, and hopefully it’s rubbed off a little on me too so I can begin to embody it as well.
Thanks again for your work, insight and diligence to the Digital LinCS team, Adetomiwa. Much success for your future, it’s bright!
Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer