Second-year MPH students at the Brown University School of Public Health are actively engaged in internships and projects through the Applied Practice Experience (APE) program. These opportunities lead them to diverse agencies and organizations in Rhode Island and across the globe. Our Student Spotlight series this summer follows their stories.
In the heart of Providence, Rhode Island, Azia Johnson is making her summer count for something big. As a compassionate and driven young scholar, Azia is conducting her Applied Practice Experience (APE) at the Lifespan Community Health Institute: Connect for Health, where she stands as a lifeline for families in need.
Her mission is clear and vital: to bridge the gap between patients and the necessities for good health. With a focus on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), she ensures that those who qualify can put food on their tables.
“We maintain a list of patients from our clinic and reach out to them by phone,” Azia said. “During these calls, we ask whether they’re currently receiving SNAP benefits. If they’re not, we offer support in filling out the applications, especially if they’re unsure or hesitant to do it themselves.”
Azia also assists with SNAP recertification. This procedure mandates patients to periodically verify that their income aligns with SNAP-benefit guidelines. Azia provides comprehensive guidance throughout the recertification process, ensuring uninterrupted access to the assistance they require.
Azia has her hands full — the guidelines for receiving SNAP benefits frequently undergo changes, making it harder for applicants to keep up with the requirements. “There’s also been a shift towards using online portals for SNAP applications,” she said. “While this might be convenient for some, it poses a challenge for older adults who may lack experience with technology.”