Eugene Canson, 25, attended Pacific Union College, a private liberal arts college located in Napa Valley, California. In 2016, he received a Bachelor of Science in exercise science/kinesiology. He is currently attending Indiana University-Bloomington, where he is pursuing a master’s in public health.
Canson recently completed an internship at the Indiana Minority Health Coalition, and for him “It has been a great learning experience.”
Canson adds, “As a public policy associate, I have been able to develop an understanding of the legislative process, as well as the important role policy plays in public health. I have built strong relationships within IMHC, including community members and government employees who work diligently to improve the health and well-being of underserved populations. Tony Gillespie, vice president for public policy and engagement at the Indiana Minority Health Coalition has enabled me to work within my area of interest, which has been invaluable towards my growth and experience in public health.”
The internship experience at IMHC afforded Canson the opportunity to work with professionals from many different backgrounds and fields of work. He believes the communication and conversation with state legislators, health commissioners, and community health directors have been invaluable for him as a public health professional.
Read what else he says about the internship opportunity.
Given your experiences, what career path interests you most?
I have developed a passion for health policy and advocacy. I have always had a passion for service and helping others, especially the disenfranchised and most vulnerable. Over the past year, I have developed an understanding of the importance of creating change through upstream factors, such as policy. My experience at IMHC has enabled me to advocate for legislation that would work to improve the health of many minorities within the state of Indiana. In my future endeavors, I would like to dedicate myself towards public service and be an advocate for policy and causes that help those in need.
Now that you have both college and work experience, what other added value do you bring to potential employers?
IMHC places an emphasis on the importance of teamwork, I believe I have gained the capability and willingness to work with others, which has proven to be beneficial. I also have an eagerness to continue to learn; although I am completing graduate school, I embrace the opportunity to gain knowledge that will enable me to evolve and grow as a person and a professional. The amount of wisdom and knowledge I have received in the past year has been invaluable towards my growth.
As an African American student, where do you see yourself in today’s society?
I recognize that I have been blessed with the opportunity to receive an education and attain the knowledge I have received thus far. As an African American, I understand that such opportunities should not be taken for granted, thus, I feel an obligation to work diligently to utilize what I have learned in the best way I can. I am aware of the many hardships that African Americans have faced and continue to face in today’s society, which is why I intend to be a voice that will advocate and push for social justice and equity for African Americans, as well as other populations that are disenfranchised and most vulnerable. I believe that myself, along with many of my peers are in a position to make a difference. I can only hope that in the years to come, many young Black men will be in that position as well.
What is the most important thing that you have learned during your internship?
During my experience at IMHC, I have learned the importance of building strong relationships. As a public policy associate, I recognized that it is important to build a rapport with stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds, including law enforcement, health professionals, state officials, etc. Although there may be disagreements among parties, effective communication is a key component for success and reaching a desirable outcome.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
In the next five years, I hope to be in the community making a difference and helping those in need. I hope to be working to improve the health and well-being of the underserved and most vulnerable populations. I am not sure the specific title I wish to hold, or whether it would be in the public or private sector for that matter. However, I would like to further my career in health policy and advocacy work. I am grateful for the opportunity that IMHC has provided me and I look forward to what God has in store for my future.