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Brittney van der Woude

Brittney Vanderwoude headshot
Graduation Year:
Spring 2019
BDP Certificate:
Social Inequality, Health & Policy
"My desire to help people has only strengthened through this experience, and I now have a clearer idea that I want to do that as a physician."

Brittney van der Woude completed an internship with Circle of Health International in Austin, where she served as an executive assistant to the founder of the organization. She helped to organize and plan the “In Her Shoes” campaign, in addition to other tasks. This experience allowed Brittney to gain a deeper understanding of the experiences of pregnant women living in crisis zones.

How did you find your internship?
I researched internships when I wrote my BDP application essay and included it as an example of something I would want to do. I was talking to a family friend and she knew the CEO of the organization so she introduced me and everything fell into place after that.

Describe the work you did in your internship.
This organization is a small Austin-based nonprofit that helps moms and babies in crisis zones, like Syria and Haiti. A lot of my work was organizing disaster relief efforts in Houston and Puerto Rico because the hurricanes hit right after my internship started. I also worked a lot on their annual “In Her Shoes” campaign where they challenge people to eat the diet of a woman in a crisis zone for three days. This included communicating with the participants and tracking the amount of money raised.

What was the most rewarding aspect of your Connecting Experience?
The best part for me was providing aid in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. I worked on sending an OB/GYN and U.S. ambassador to the island to provide an initial needs assessment of the women living there. Today, a lot of people are still without power, but the average person has forgotten about relief efforts in Puerto Rico. This organization helps those who are forgotten but still desperately need help, and it’s really awesome to see them get the help they need and to be a part of providing it.

In what ways has this Connecting Experience shaped your plans for the future?
Going into this internship my plan was to go to medical school, but I wanted to see what working
in public health is really like. When sending doctors to Puerto Rico for disaster efforts, I realized I wanted to be on that side of things, not the organizational side. My desire to help people has only strengthened through this experience, and I now have a clearer idea that I want to do that as a physician.