Name: Shiraz Harel
Class Year: 2023
Hometown: San Francisco Bay Area, Calif.
Internship Organization: Yale Pediatric Diabetes Center
Job Title: Undergraduate Researcher
Award: Endowed Internship Fund
What’s happening at your internship?
I’ve been working on a qualitative research study about access and affordability of type 1 diabetes medication and supplies with Dr. Laura Nally at the Yale Pediatric Diabetes Center. Currently, we are interviewing participants and hearing about their experiences. One of the fundamental issues with clinical research is that the participant pool typically consists of people who already regularly go to doctor’s appointments and thus have a certain level of access to healthcare. To address this issue and ensure that this study encompasses the experiences of many different people with diabetes, we reached out to aid-related diabetes organizations to recruit from their audience. So far, this has been an incredibly eye-opening experience for me, and I am now even more passionate about reforming the U.S. healthcare system than before. I hope that this research will show the extent of the problems of accessing and affording insulin and other diabetes medication and supplies in the U.S. healthcare system and influence legislators to make policy changes.
Why did you apply for this internship?
Along with having type 1 diabetes, I volunteer for a non-profit called the Embrace Foundation, which receives diabetes medication and supplies donations from those who have excess supplies and sends them to those in need, so I am very passionate about the topic. I reached out to Dr. Nally about my interest in her research, and I was very fortunate that she agreed to be my research mentor for the summer. We came up with the specific research topic together, and she has been guiding me through every step of the process of clinical qualitative research. I feel lucky to be working on a project that is so close to my heart.
Can you talk about the skills you are learning and why they are important to you?
This internship has supported me in my time management, confidence, communication, creativity, and organizational skills. The internship is very flexible, so I schedule most of my meetings and working-time myself. This has been challenging but has pushed me to improve my time management, communication, and organizational skills, which are all key skills for academic and professional success. Having professional meetings and creating materials for the research has helped me gain confidence and use my creativity in my work - both of which are valuable for professional and personal relationships and creating quality work. I feel that the academic rigor of Bryn Mawr has helped prepare me for this internship.
What is most rewarding about your internship?
The most rewarding part of this internship has been hearing about participants’ experiences managing diabetes. I had heard stories about people struggling to afford their insulin and other supplies in news articles but had never spoken to someone going through this myself. It enrages me that thousands of people have near-death experiences due to a completely solvable issue, but I feel empowered that I can be part of the solution.
Visit the Summer Internship Stories page to read more about student internship experiences.