Student Spotlight: Learning Anything and Everything with Lexi Kierstead
How long have you worked with the Avance Center and in what capacity?
I joined the Avance Center as an intern in June 2015. I primarily assist with the Adelante project, where I help with components of the Adelante media campaign. This includes writing blog posts and social media content, as well as helping to develop campaign advertisements and messages. Other tasks I’ve worked on include data entry and conference planning. I also helped to implement the Social Media for Advocacy youth program in Langley Park, MD last summer.
Why did you become interested in working with the Avance Center?
Dr. Elizabeth Andrade was my professor in my Intro to Public Health class and she spoke about her work with the Avance Center. It seemed really interesting and sounded like the program was having a major impact on the lives of the Langley Park community. During class we watched the web series Victor and Erika, which was produced by and about the lives of Langley Park youth. The story was really compelling.
I am interested in public health and health disparities, and wanted to get involved with the Center. Since my major is public health with a minor in Spanish, the Avance Center was a good way to get real experience in this field and apply what I was learning in my classes.
Tell me about the different projects you’ve been working on.
Currently, I’m piloting a social media content analysis for a larger qualitative research project for Adelante. This is a new research skill for me, but it’s used a lot in public health. I’m also taking a class in fall 2016 in qualitative research methods to expand my knowledge even further.
Throughout my time at the Avance Center I’ve had the opportunity to write blog and social media content. I’ve learned that there is a certain kind of messaging and tone of writing needed for this audience of Latino immigrant youth, so I’ve learned to adapt my writing style to meet the community’s needs and experiences.
And finally the Social Media for Advocacy program I helped to implement in Langley Park. That was really informative and fun. I got to work directly with the youth we serve and be out in the community.
What have you gained from working at the Avance Center?
I’ve gained so many skills! From conference planning, implementing programs, and working collaboratively with diverse colleagues such as those in the community, PhDs, and faculty – these are foundational skills for my career. It’s great to look back and see all that I have done over the last year.
How will you use these skills in the future? What are your goals for the future?
I’m entering my junior year of undergraduate this fall. In the future I plan to pursue a MPH and work in the field of health disparities.
Ms. Kierstead’s research interests include substance abuse in youth, health disparities, specifically among immigrant populations, and the impact of disparities on chronic illness. Ms. Kierstead spends her time as an executive board member for her professional pre-health fraternity and will continue to devote her time to the Avance Center while additionally pursuing research opportunities at the Truth Initiative and the Mentor Foundation over the summer. She will be graduating from GWU with a BS in Public Health in the Spring of 2018 and hopes to pursue an MPH shortly afterward.