Real Life Stories

Looking to the Future After My AMCHP 2014 Experience

By Teresa Nguyen
Ryan Colburn Scholarship Recipient

Being able to attend the 2014 AMCHP Conference as a young, emerging public health leader with special health care needs was an incredible opportunity for me and it wouldn’t have been possible without the wonderful Ryan Colburn Scholarship. As a Colorado native, it wasn’t hard to adjust to the frigid temperatures of DC during the conference, but the two-hour time difference was another story – especially when my days started around 5 a.m. Denver time! Though this may seem early, it actually provided me with a strong advantage by allowing me to make the most of each day during the conference.

My days were filled with workshops on: family engagement, youth and adolescent health, pediatric care coordination, and health care transition quality improvement. The opportunity to be a part of the conversation during these crucial workshops was a valuable experience for both me and the public health leaders around me. As I absorbed all of the information that was being presented, I realized that while there is a vocalized need for the youth and family voice in public health, it’s not always present. I am grateful to AMCHP and Susan Colburn for providing a platform for emerging youth and young adult leaders to have a voice within the public health conversations that are happening nationwide. My hope is to see these conversations continue at future conferences with families, youth, and young adults present at the table.

One of the best tips that I received from my mentors, prior to the conference, was to take advantage of the time spent outside of the conference events to network. My AMCHP experience was already so incredible, and the networking aspect really elevated that “incredible” to a higher level. It was exciting to finally meet the leaders that I had previously collaborated with via phone, e-mail, or through webinars, and the conference also gave me a chance to connect with my colleagues from Colorado, which was great! Being introduced to the Family and Youth Leadership Committee was another highlight of my networking experience. This group of leaders demonstrated how knowledge, passion, and personal experiences really drive their involvement in public health, and in turn, it continued to solidify my decision to pursue a career in this field. As a transitioning young adult with special health care needs, I realized that my experiences as a patient, consumer, and leader all bring a different and valuable perspective to the table, when working to improve the health care system for all individuals who utilize it.

I left the conference feeling energized and inspired to continue my journey in public health. As a perfect ending to this experience, I came home to wonderful news that I was accepted into the Master of Public Health Program at the Colorado School of Public Health, starting this summer. I am excited to move toward my dream of developing or supporting an existing program that supports youth and young adult health care transition into adult care, while providing a holistic approach (taking into account all systems of transition). It’s a big vision, but I am grateful to the Ryan Colburn Scholarship and AMCHP for providing me with the wealth of knowledge, support and networks to help me grow this dream. I am confident this is not my last AMCHP experience, and I look forward to returning with a different perspective, as a graduate student, next time!