This week's featured Public Policy Analysis student is Cailly Howell, a Pomona College senior from Michigan who's majoring in Chemistry/PPA.
Cailly entered Pomona her freshmen year planning to major in Chemistry. After learning more about the PPA major, by sophomore year she felt it was the perfect opportunity for her to combine her interests in Chemistry, medicine, and policy. Cailly believes that one of the most unique aspects of the PPA major is its “very real and applicable way of thinking of things around us.” When she hears other students complain about how what they are learning is not applicable to the world around them, she is especially grateful for her interdisciplinary and pertinent coursework. Though she chose to concentrate in Chemistry, students have the opportunity to explore almost any subject they are interested in – from economics to anthropology – and how that subject relates to public policy. In addition, Cailly says PPA faculty and staff “have always been there to help me with whatever I need, from editing resumes to setting up my internship and assisting me with my thesis.”
For her senior internship, Cailly applied for and was accepted to work at Pomona Valley Hospital with Internal Medicine Specialist Dr. Daniel Gluckstein, MD. “We worked on a project to increase immunization rates in Los Angeles County,” Cailly said. “There are all of these clinics that serve low-income women that are associated with the hospital, but don't necessarily see all the patients until the baby is actually born.”
Cailly's tasks and responsibilities were varied throughout her time working at Pomona Valley Hospital. She shadowed doctors, supported operations at the Hospital's Women's and Children's Center, helped with administrative duties, and conducted comprehensive, independent research on projects. “I actually traveled to all of the clinics with the coordinator of the Women's Center, which was very interesting,” Cailly said. “I gathered materials from the Center for Disease Control and the National Immunization Action Coalition to bring to those clinics.”
One of Cailly's projects responded to the fact that none of the clinics she visited were enrolled in California's Immunization Registry (CAIR), a system that allows medical providers to track patient immunization records, reduce missed opportunities, and help increase the quantity of immunizations provided. In response to this, Cailly corresponded with representatives from pharmaceutical companies to organize information sessions at these clinics in an effort to get the clinics enrolled in the system.
Cailly's internship at Pomona Valley hospital ties nicely into her current thesis. Her thesis is examining the law passed by the California Legislature in 2010 that obliges all children in California entering grades seven through 12 to submit proof that they've received a whooping cough vaccination. Cailly is focusing on whether or not this vaccination will decrease incidents of the illness in California.
After she graduates, Cailly hopes to enroll in a dual program to get both a Masters in Public Health and a Medical Degree. This would be the next step towards her ultimate goal of working in public health. Cailly said that being a PPA major has “completely changed the way she thinks about life around her” and she would “absolutely” do it all over again.