A Postcard From: Jenisha Stapleton ’19

Name: Jenisha Stapleton
Class Year: 2019
Major: Biology
Hometown: St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

Internship Placement: Epidemiology Division, U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health
Job Title: Summer Intern with the Vaccine Preventable Disease Program Coordinator
Location: St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

Screenshot of the beginning of my first educational video.

Self-portrait with one of the Zika posters in the office.

What’s happening at your internship? 

As an intern with the Epidemiology Division of the VI Department of Health, my primary program focus is working with the Vaccine Preventable Disease Surveillance Program (VPDSP), whose goals include increasing provider participation in reporting and implementing standardized practices. The program is in the process of being launched and my principal responsibilities entail developing content for the VPDSP newsletter and website. This includes creating educational scripts and short videos. So far, I have completed and recorded my first video, which guides health providers on how to properly fill out the Notification of Infectious Diseases form. I am working towards completing scripts on other topics related to the program or overall division.

Why did you apply for this internship? 

My interest in epidemiology and public health along with my fondness for my home island inspired me to contact the Territorial Epidemiologist and create this internship opportunity. After following the state of the Zika virus in the U.S. Virgin Islands and learning that the majority of the cases came from my home island of St. Thomas, I was compelled to take action and this internship is a result of my initial concern and enthusiasm. This internship is helping to facilitate my growth as a young professional, better define my long-term career goals, and do work that will influence the community of my native island.

Can you talk about the skills you are learning and why they are important to you? 

Learning to use software and programs, such as website/newsletter creators and video makers, has been challenging yet fun. Through trial and error and Google, of course, I have been able to gain an understanding of how to use these various programs. As I continue using them, I will become more familiar with various features and functions. This is helping to develop my technical skills, which in the future, I will be able to apply to for assignments. Being able to communicate and present information using different platforms is useful in this age and helps to appeal to a greater audience.

What is most rewarding about your internship?

In addition to doing work in launching the VPD surveillance program which will ultimately impact my community, I am grateful for the opportunity to receive mentorship and network with my supervisors and everyone on the team. They have shared their journeys to epidemiology and public health, which has informed my personal career path and has influenced my decision to pursue research opportunities and also a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology.