Thursday, July 10, 2014

Farewell to the SC Campaign!

Two years ago, I embarked on a journey to enhance my understanding of pregnancy prevention. I was approaching my graduation from my doctoral program at the Arnold School of Public Health at University of South Carolina and this amazing postdoctoral fellowship position presented itself at the SC Campaign. I had not worked directly in teen pregnancy prevention before, but had extensive experience in HIV prevention. After researching the SC Campaign, I knew that this position would be an ideal next step for my academic and professional career.

In June 2012, I officially became a part of the SC Campaign staff and managed the two-year collective impact project funded by The Duke Endowment. At first, I thought this position would be similar to an internship, little did I know that I was going to be responsible for coordinating schedules, creating PowerPoint presentations, developing meeting agendas, and facilitating team meetings. Right out the gate, I had a role at the SC Campaign. I was fully embraced by the staff and senior leadership of the organization and truly felt like I was a part of the team. My thoughts and ideas were always taken into consideration and some my ideas even came into fruition in the form of a webinar focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth health and a corresponding publication. Additionally, I was able to interact with partners and stakeholders from across the state and learn about what investments are truly needed to address teen pregnancy in South Carolina. On the horizon, there is a new document being developed by the SC Campaign that will assist funders and organizations that want to invest in teen pregnancy prevention. Knowing that I contributed to the creation of this document is the culmination of my efforts and it feels good.

From the start, I felt like this postdoctoral fellowship position was a nice blend between research and public health practice. Given my background in qualitative research, I had the opportunity to conduct focus groups with parents of middle school students to examine their perception of school-based teen pregnancy prevention programs. I was responsible for developing the research protocol, research questions, facilitating the focus groups, and analyzing the data. One of the highlights of my experience at the SC Campaign, was when this research was accepted for publication in the Journal of Sex Education: Sexuality, Society, and Learning’s special issue dedicated to Dr. Douglas Kirby, an adolescent sexual health researcher who I have always admired.

I knew from the start that this was only a two-year position, but I never prepared myself for all of the knowledge and skills that I would acquire from the SC Campaign in that short period of time. I served as an adjunct faculty member at South University, became a Certified Health Education Specialist, and completed the United Way’s Blueprint for Leadership program. Having the opportunity to work with a staff as talented as the SC Campaign’s, I now feel I am equipped to advocate for teen pregnancy prevention and will continue to do so as my professional career develops.

This postdoctoral fellowship has provided a solid foundation for my career. The insight and feedback that I received from fellow staff was invaluable and for that I thank everyone at the SC Campaign for their input in my professional development. And on that note, I bid you farewell!

by India Rose, former Post Doctoral Fellow, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

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