Immersed in the Community

What does “Learning by Doing” really mean? According to Nicholas Jones (below left), a health services research Ph.D. student, part of practicing as a public health professional means volunteering in the community.

“Immersing yourself in the community helps contextualize the work you do, which is oftentimes removed from any personal touches. Working with claims data may make it easy to forget that each line of data is a person or experience, and working in the community allows us to regain a sense of perspective” says Jones. Jones and other doctoral and Master’s students are volunteering once a week with Meals on Wheels Rhode Island. The initiative came about because students were looking for ways to get involved in the community. Emma Tucher (below right), another health services research Ph.D. student, suggested Meals on Wheels as an organization to give their time too, as she had done a lot of research on the organization with Professor Kali Thomas.

Every Friday, a group of students drives to the Meals on Wheels facility to pick up the meals, then delivers the meals to a set of apartments in Providence on foot. They visit a handful of apartments in each building, and since they see the same people week after week, they develop a routine and a relationship with them.

For students looking to get involved in the community, Jonas says it’s easier to get involved than people may think. “It really takes a quick internet search to find an opportunity that appeals to you, and the volunteer coordinators love to work with Brown students,” he says.