Professional Skills at NARAL- Learning From the TORCH Teens

Interning at NARAL has been quite an experience and having the opportunity to continue to work with teens is even better. The TORCH Peer Educators are a wonderful and versatile group on young individuals. Aside from the daily work at NARAL, they are a unique group of teens that love life, teaching, and being young. I have extensive background in youth development and youth education, but working with the TORCH teens have allowed me to acquire a new, and useful set of professional skills.

Learning to be open-minded and honest are skills that not every employer looks for in a resume or  an interview. However, these are skills that are required when working with youth and this is what I learned from working with TORCH for the last 4 weeks. When topics about sexual and reproductive health and medical care come up, teens have a lot to say. It can be easily interpreted that teens are rambunctious and blurt certain things out that are either confusing or just plain crazy. However, teens do have the right to speak their minds nevertheless, tell you how they want they want to be treated by their doctors. Being open-minded and allowing new ideas to circulate in your understanding of the teens nature is critical in working with them. Unknowingly, we judge and criticize teens for being this aggressive, but it is who they are. What we can do as adults, is simply be aware and have open-minds when working with teens. Without passing judgment, we as adults, should always support the ideas and thoughts of teens. Now, these thoughts must be positive thoughts and ideas that foster positive youth development – not ideas or thought that promote the opposite. This is away that teens can relate to you – even as an adult- you have the ability to become one with them, while still allowing mutual respect between the teacher and the student.

Learning to be honest and open with teens, is a very useful tool. It can allow you to be honest and open with other individuals you might be working with. When teens are given the chance to change, and by that I mean their behavior and decisions, teens are self-promoting and creating a brighter future for themselves. However, this can not be possible, if youth providers do not have open-minds and open-hearts to also learn from teens, but teach them as well.


TORCH Summer Leadership Training Institute

This summer, my intern duties have also asked that I put my “youth-loving” skills to good use. The Teens Outreach Reproductive CHallenge (TORCH) program is composed of strong, young, peer educators, that are trained in everything that has to do with sexual and … Continue reading

Cultural competence is an extremely necessary skill to…

Cultural competence is an extremely necessary skill to master in the field of public health. However, I do not work directly with a specific population – but my work still involves teens. This population is considered an “at-risk” or “vulnerable” population where certain measures must be taken to ensure adequate services are provided in that area. My role at NARAL is to provide evaluation and administrative support to research and development teams. Whatever job is being done, a solid and concrete definition of cultural competency must be understood. I have decided to reblog this excellent piece on cultural competency.


Avichal Garg

What is Cultural Competence?

Core competence is a factor that cannot be easily replicated and gives the business a competitive advantage in delivering their product or service to customers. Core competencies are how a business does something.

Cultural Competence is the lens through which opportunities are identified and evaluated. Cultural competencies are how a business figures out what to do. [1]


Every business, no matter the size, has cultural competencies.

  • Cultural competencies are a reflection of the founders’ personalities. It’s no coincidence that Google was started and led by Ph.Ds, Apple by a designer-perfectionist, and Amazon by a quant from a hedge fund.
  • Cultural competencies are directionally set as you go from 0-20 people. If you achieve product-market fit, you will only deepen your cultural competencies. You can inject new culture via new (strong) leadership, but the existing leadership has to be receptive. The larger the organization, the harder…

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Reaction Blog: NARAL Pro-Choice New York Part 1

As of today, my journey at NARAL Pro-Choice NY has been extremely influential. Thus far, I have help create and evaluate training curriculum for front-line staffs as well as create a info sheet on Minors Health Rights in New York State. This next project, is to be used as part of the the training materials used in the ASPP (Adolescent Standardized Patient Project) and the KIRWYD (Keeping It Real With Your Doctor). These two components of AHCCP (Adolescent Health Care Communication Project) are integral pieces in having medical service providers obtain the necessary communication skills they need to better service their patients. As part of the administrative team, I am also responsible for preparing all materials for future trainings; agendas, transportation, information packages, info sheets, and other important training materials. Currently, we are preparing for AHCCP’s annual training at Richmond Medical Center in Staten Island, NY. Each year, AHCCP and the TORCH peer educators conduct both components of the program to residents and medical providers at the center. Richmond Medical Center has been actively involved with the AHCCP program when using their services and skills development to prepare their residents for the customer service (if you will) portion of their training as future medical doctors.

We are currently completing our cycle for FY 2011-2012 and internship coordinator is actively involved in reporting the develierables to funders, primarily the Department of Health. We will continue to conduct outreach efforts locally and nationally to promote the AHCCP. There have also been conversations surrounding a possible grant recipient of AHCCP in the state of Washington, where our program director had the pleasure of conducting a site visit just two weeks ago. The AHCCP hopes to reproduce their programs in various  states where these skills lack in prospective doctors or medical residents.

On Tuesday, I will be conducting a Leadership Training for the TORCH peer educators to prepare them for AHCCP for FY 2012-2013. I will update you on this training shortly.

The Fieldwork Experience at NIRH

Data Collection & Evaulation can become a difficult skill to master.


Interning at NIRH has been very beneficial in creating a strong network of public health professionals in the field of Sexual and Reproductive health. The AHCCP Program has also defined a larger component of public health initiatives that create larger opportunities for teens. As the program completes it’s deliverables for the FY 2011-12, I will continue to provide administrative support for the evaluation piece. However, when FY 2012-13 beings in July, I will be in charge of a large portion of data collection and evaluation. I hope to gain more polished skills in data collection, entry, and evaluations. I also hope to learn how to manage excel databases and collective both qualitative and quantatative data for the AHCCP piece.

I want to be competent in research and literature reviews. As well as, be able to accurately and concussively report on collective information and present it in a legible format. These skills will allow me to be a more component and well-round public health professional. Data and evaluation are pivotal when implementing certain programs or interventions for you are expecting to follow-up with your initiatives and see if they have actually worked or not. In order to precise and knowledgeable in this area of program planning, these skills must be developed and used at various points in your career.

At NIRH, I hope this experience will further develop my skills and create opportunities for external networking.

The Project

As a Summer intern at the National Institute for Reproductive health I have been made in charge of various tasks that must be completed in the FY 2011-12. The program has a variety of  deliverables and part of my work requires me to complete evaluations and maintain DOH standards when completing these reports. This includes evaluations of pre and post- tests, scanning deliverables such as sign-in sheets and program evaluations, as well as provide administrative support to the local collaborative intern. 

One of our projects include developing a Front-Line Staff training manual that will be used by teen educators trained in workshop facilitation that the DOH has asked to be included into the deliverables for FY 2012-2013. I have been helping the intern who developed the curriculum review it and make any revisions as seen necessary. They are also in the process of constructing a literature review on what exactly it means to be front-line staff and how they play a vital role in patient-doctor relationship and what constitutes as “teen-friendly.” 

M.I.A & The New Scoop

Sorry everyone for the delay- I’ve been M.I.A for the past few weeks because I honestly do not want anything to do with school for awhile.

I’ve started my internship at The National Institute for Reproductive Health and it’s been an extremely benefical time. I am a apart of the Adolescent Health Care Commujnication Program that seeks to use young people in promoting open communication between teens and their health care providers. For the first weeks, I have taken time time to understand the program delvierables and components and have actively been working on a local collaborative piece for the Front-Line Training for medical service providers. This component is just one of the many pieces to the AHCCP initiative at the NIRH.

The ACHHP initiative was designed to help medical providers communicate more effectively with their teens patients thus reducing barriers and increase patient-doctor relationship. This has shown to increase the like hood that teens will make informed decisions about their health. Primarily, this organization is to increase overall awareness and equality among teens and women that affect their sexual and reproductive health. But their work is also surrounding political issues regarding reproductive health and access to quality care. This organization is instrumental in passing certain laws that create opportunities for women and teens to access care and information.

Below is a video of the one the initiatives this organization had implemented called Back Up Your Birth Control from the Pro-Choice America.

My Top Five Most Influential Women in My Life

The most influential women in my life not only oriented me, but have guided me in pursuing my academics, my personal accomplishments, and many of my self-discovered talents. These women have showed me that creating opportunities for your community, while strengthening yourself as an individual is a fulfilling experience that has lasting purpose and enjoyment. In one way or a another, the following women will always have a special place in my heart, as well as the hearts of those whom they’ve touched with their undoubting love and work.

5. Paloma Hernandez

Source: Urban Health Plan, Inc.

I have had the pleasure of working with Ms. Hernandez on a variety of projects for her organization, Urban Health Plan, Inc. When I first started working for this organization, I remembered only one thing from orientation and wasn’t just the fire safety rules. I remember Ms. Hernandez saying that, “Whatever yo do for this community and the people we serve to better their lives is okay with me. Just make sure it is not illegal.” As funny as that statement might have been, I took it heart. In my journey and devotion to the community of the South Bronx, I have c omitted to making helping teens make more healthy and informed decisions in which ever way possible…just as long as it is not illegal. Ms. Hernandez has shown me with perseverance and dedication, you can accomplish the most unattainable goal.

4. Michelle Obama

Source: The White House Blog

3. Jasmine Maxine Nunez (My Angel) 

Source: Facebook

I don’t know where I can start to express how much I loved  this girl. Jasmine and I went wayyyy back from our days in JHS 210. She was the most sweetest person you will ever meet and when the others use to bully me, she was the one to say stop! She stood up for me even when I didn’t meet the criteria to be in popular crew as she was. We separated and went on to high school were she pursued her love of nursing and caring for others. After High School, we caught up on Facebook and remincised about the old days. Even though she hated talking about it, I often times made jokes of it and said that I was over it thanks to her. On June 12th, 2o12 I got the most disturbing message from a friend of mine saying that Jasmine was found murdered and burned in a park in Virginia and was reported missing shortly before this had occurred. I was in Miami at the time and before my trip she told me what to do when I got there, what to bring, and what to drink ;). I never got a chance to tell her how crazy my Call a Cab at Wet Willy’s was. I miss you today, tomorrow, and forever. R.I.P Princess Jasmine June 28th, 1988- June 12th, 2011.

2. Whitney Houston

Source: Tekstovi

The influential and most talent artitist ever in the history of music, Ms. Whitney Houston. Her role in my life is paramount as I discovered my new found talent of song and music through her. Her album, The Body Guard, was instrumental in my life and everyday since I had screamed and belched those songs to my hearts content. Whitney Houston will forever hold a special place in my heart for she is the one who inspired me to sing and to continue to sing to giver of my talent…God.

1. Iris Castillo (My Mom)

What more can I say…she’s my mom! I love her so much and words cannot describe what I feel towards her. She is my friend, my constant companion, my giver, my protector, my all. She is the women that has made me into the women I am today. Thanks mom! I love you!

Starting my Internship at The National Institute of Reproductive Health!


Source: The National Institute for Reproductive Health

Tomorrow is my official start date as an intern at The National Institute of Reproductive Health. I plan on staying at the institute as an intern for a long time and not just for the Summer. I really like the area of research, but I will be specifically working on a local collaborative between teen service providers and teens. The program I will be working on is the Adolescent Health Care Communication Program, where peer educators of the program conduct outreach events and promote teen-friendly workshops that can help teen service providers be more “teen-friendly.” 

The NIRH states that, “The AHCCP has shown that when trained teenagers are given the opportunity to work directly with health care providers, the teens are empowered, becoming more confident and well-informed health care consumers, and the providers gain privileged access to the perspectives of their target population.” 

My role in the position is take over the prior data entry and analysis of research from the other intern and continue to evaluate the program through pre and post-survey. These survey are administered to the service providers only, and my job is to evaluate content, enter data, and other duties as assigned by my most awesome internship coordinator Pauline DeMairo. 

I will admit, I am a little nervous because I’ve never held a position so close to Park Ave and the reputation of the organization speaks for itself in that I have to maintain that high quality academic integrity. I am excited and I can’t wait to learn so many new things. I will update you all on my first day ventures tomorrow! 

Area for New Research- Public Policies on Teen Pregnancy

There has been recent changes made to abortions laws in different states, as well as other pertinent women’s health care reforms all over the U.S. However, the role of public policy As part of my research symposium class at Hunter College, I was asked to proposed area for new research. I proposed studying the effects of social policy on the rate of teen pregnancies in the U.S. The research proposal aims at identifying certain limitations and restriction surrounding 3 key components in the issue of teen pregnancy; abortion laws, access to reproductive health care, and comprehensive sexual education programs. Research will be geared at identifying certain behaviors in the context of sexual activity initiation. The study hypothesizes that the more restrictions placed on the above three key components will cause an increase in the amount of teen pregnancy rates and births.

The research also proposes partnership with the National Institute for Reproductive Health Care as the key collaborator in this project. With their partnership, I have proposed to study this effect of policy policy using a mixed method research; focus groups, surveys, policy analysis, and meta-analysis of existing research.

If you are interested in learning more about this research, please feel free to look at the presentation below and leave your comments. If this is your field or area of work, I urge you to provide constructive feedback.