I AM FPHLP 2018: Isabel Plakas

Isabel Plakas

Isabel applied to FPHLP because she was interested in exploring the field of public health.  Isabel loved how FPHLP not only provided students with a typical internship experience; but also provided them with mentorship, small cohorts where the FPHLPers worked on writing academic papers and volunteering, as well as lectures given by esteemed leaders in the field of public health. She knew by participating in FPHLP she would be exposed to a diverse group of students and mentors who would bring their unique perspectives and interests which was very valuable when it came to having discussions.

The highlight of Isabel’s FPHLP experience was definitely getting to know her cohort, which was made up of absolutely amazing and inspiring individuals. As opposed to another internship experience where every participant would most likely have had similar interest, the FPHLPers were all connected under the branch of public health. Within that, what people were passionate about and knowledgeable about varied greatly. She was able to learn so much from her peers and in return was able to contribute something meaningful. Isabel made friendships that will last a lifetime and learned how to work both in a partnership (at her field placement) and also in a team. Isabel’s other highlight was working at the Special Victims Unit with her partner B. The detectives and other professionals they met were so kind and eager to share their experience and expertise with Isabel and B. Isabel felt lucky to have an amazing preceptor (She would like to thank Marlanna Landeros!) who wanted to cater the experience to what she and her partner were passionate about – for Isabel, that was learning more about how to support survivors of sexual harm and domestic violence.

Her greatest challenge was learning how to successfully build relationships with experts in the public health field. Networking can be very intimidating for Isabel, but her mentors gave Isabel excellent advice and through that she was able to meet amazing people at her field placement that she is still in touch with today. These skills will continue to help Isabel in the future as she builds connections with those who are passionate about the same things she is.

Isabel graduated Manga Cum Laude from Bryn Mawr College where she spent her final semester taking what she had learned at FPHLP and working at a non-profit that provides harm reduction services to those in Philadelphia’s sex and drug trade. In June, Isabel will be starting as a research assistant at Community Psychiatry PRIDE (part of Mass Gen/Harvard medical school) where she will work on reducing mental health disparities. She hopes to either get her MPH or PhD in Public Health, and then she will continue to work with survivors of domestic violence and sexual harm.

Isabel would like to tell someone who is considering applying to FPHLP that FPHLP is a competitive program, but they should apply even if they are nervous! Even though she thought she would be a great fit, Isabel was unsure if she would be accepted and the opportunity seemed too good to be true. She is grateful that she applied because it ended up being a life-changing summer, and she is so thankful for the experience. Isabel also recommends to stay in touch with the people you meet because not only are they happy to get updates from you, but they can become amazing mentors that really push you to excel and succeed.