Through her Ford Institute internship, Heather Holderness, '11, was able to combine her interests in health and public policy, and also utilize her fluency in Spanish. She worked with Community HealthCare Connections (CHC), an organization that connects uninsured and underinsured individuals to a wide variety of health care services. These include basic health and medical care, as well as referral and advocacy. CHC provides these services in conjunction with the Nursing Clinic of Battle Creek and the Calhoun Health Plan.
Heather worked with CHC's Hispanic Outreach Program doing research, being involved in outreach, explaining opportunities to potential clients, and occasionally providing translation. She also assisted with their new mobile clinic, a bus that takes medical services directly into the community. This type of work was well suited for her as she has a variety of academic and professional interests. She graduated from Albion this spring with a dual major in Latin American Studies and Spanish, a minor in Biology, and concentrations in the Ford Institute and the Institute for Premedical Professions and Health Sciences.
"One of the best parts of this internship has been interacting directly with the clients," said Heather. "There was one client who was renewing services with a CHC program, but could not read or write in English. I was able to translate into Spanish for him and help him fill out the paperwork."
A native of Hartland, MI, she was very active with the Organization Latino/a Awareness at Albion College, serving as the group's president. She was also a mentor at Harrington Elementary School, Vice President for Management of Alpha Chi Omega, and a member of the Order of Omega.
After graduation, Heather accepted a position as a Research Assistant to Debbie Ossip at the University of Rochester. She hopes ultimately to go into advocacy work for underrepresented groups needing access to health care. Heather is grateful to have been a part of the Ford Institute and feels it is her responsibility to give back. "Being around people who are passionate about public service is one of the best parts of the program," she stated. "I learned so much from the different opinions and perspectives of the other students. Being in Ford broadened my own understanding of the world."