Durham Tech student interns in Thailand for public health

Jonitka Hall spent 11 hours on a Megabus, 44 hours in the air, and eight hours in airports to and from Thailand for her spring internship.

“I was super excited, but I was nervous for my family,” Hall said. “I didn’t tell my mom until my Visa was approved and I had my plane ticket.”

Hall, 29, spent eight weeks in Bangkok, Thailand for a public health internship during spring semester.

“I have a regret from the first time I was in undergraduate school of not studying abroad,” Hall said. “So I thought, let me see if I can study abroad now. I went to Heidi White’s office, asked her what my options were and figured out I had enough in savings and paid time off at my job to be gone for eight weeks so that’s what I did.”

In December 2017, Hall completed all credits for her Associate in Science degree at Durham Tech, but knew she could not start her bachelors program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro until August 2018.

“When I completed all of my credits in December I wondered what I would do during spring semester,” Hall said. “Then I decided I would intern.”

Heidi White, Director of International Student Services and Study Abroad at Durham Tech, connected Hall with World Endeavors, an organization that offers international internships and affordable study abroad opportunities.

She also worked alongside Kara Battle, Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences at Durham Tech, to find out she could enroll in a Work-Based Learning course to earn credit for the internship.

“Work-based learning opportunities are invaluable experiences for students,” Battle said. “Especially for career development and exposing them to meaningful opportunities in real-life work settings where they can apply their academic and technical skills and develop employability skills.”

Hall aspires to be an epidemiologist, a public health professional that studies the origin of disease. During the internship, she worked at two public health centers through the Thai Government, conducted community visits, went to patient’s homes with doctors, went into schools to teach heath education, and completed clinic hours observing doctors and nurses.

“I really enjoyed getting to see a different health care system,” Hall said. “The liability insurance in Thailand isn’t as strict as it is in America so I was able to do more hands-on work and see patient’s records more than I would have in the US.”

She said this experience will be a significant résumé booster.

“It’s important that Durham Tech offers opportunities like this because we live in a very global economy and getting this experience helps get your foot in the door,” Hall said. “One of the great things about Durham Tech is that it really prepares you for a career.”

Hall encourages others students who are interested in studying abroad to make it happen.

“Apply for scholarship and ask questions,” Hall said of her advice to other students. “This is worth the investment. I am not special. I just made the choice to do it. There are people at Durham Tech that will help you get it done.”

When she wasn’t working, Hall said she enjoyed spending time with her host family, experiencing Thai food, and visiting with elephants.

“I was a college dropout,” Hall said. “I went to school and didn’t finish and when I decided to go back, Durham Tech was my safety net and saving grace. They helped get me back on track and on the path to my career. This experience will be my best résumé builder and has helped me become a more well-rounded person.”