Student Spotlight: Advocating for queer sexual and reproductive health in Rhode Island

Putting his passion into action, Brown MPH student Eli Wasserman is working to promote comprehensive care through the MPH Practicum program.

Second-year MPH students at the Brown University School of Public Health are actively engaged in internships and projects through the MPH Practicum program. These opportunities take them to diverse agencies and organizations in Rhode Island and across the country. Our Student Spotlight series this summer follows their stories.

For his Practicum, Eli Wasserman embarked on an important journey as a health communications intern, collaborating with Open Door Health and the Rhode Island Public Health Institute to bridge the information gaps in healthcare specifically tailored to the LGBTQ+ community in Rhode Island. 

In this role, Eli worked on website development and on creating post-clinic visit materials related to HIV and STI testing, PrEP counseling, hormone replacement therapy and harm reduction counseling. He aims to encourage STI testing and to promote visits to the Open Door Health clinic through persuasive calls to action.

“My passion lies in bringing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services to community health centers, particularly in addressing the needs of the queer community,” Eli said. “During my senior year as an undergrad, I had the opportunity to work with Fenway Health, a prominent community health center in Boston. This experience was truly enlightening—it allowed me to collaborate with fellow queer individuals and work on issues that are vital to our community. I was able to contribute to the promotion of essential services and it solidified my determination to focus on queer sexual and reproductive health.”

I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to put my passion into action right away.

Eli Wasserman MPH Student

When Eli came to Providence and began his studies at Brown, he knew he wanted to work with an organization like Open Door Health. “I had heard about them and their work, and through connections at Brown, particularly in the MPH program, I was able to secure an internship,” he said. “I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to put my passion into action right away.”

Eli says his internship has been a fulfilling experience. It has reinforced his interest in working in advocacy and with nonprofits post-graduation. “I am determined to continue pursuing this field within similar settings,” he said. “My goal is to contribute to research that focuses on creating inclusive and improved healthcare spaces for queer individuals. And I believe that my journey at Brown will provide opportunities to further explore this area.”

A young scholar, just in his 20s, Eli anticipates a future that involves engaging in fellowships and other post-graduation endeavors that align with his professional goals. “By leveraging these opportunities, I hope to make significant contributions to the field of queer sexual reproductive health and formalized care,” he said. “Overall, this work has not only reaffirmed my commitment to this cause but has also set me on a path toward meaningful advances in my personal and professional life.”