Guest Post: Making Lifelong Connections

Danielle Young tells us about her time at the 2nd annual Making Lifelong Connections meeting. Funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, and sponsored by two MCH training programs across the U.S., Making Lifelong Connections is a one and a half day MCHInterdisciplinary Leadership retreat. 

Sunny Walt Disney World was the perfect setting for the second annual Making Lifelong Connections Meeting. The purpose of this two-day meeting was to build connections between MCHers from across the country. I learned a lot about the many training programs that the Maternal and Child Health Bureau training grants fund. I had no idea the breadth of interdisciplinary programs and the range of students they attract. For example, I met students in social work, physical therapy, nursing, behavioral health, and the list goes on. It was a pleasant surprise to meet four other maternal and child health trainees from the University of Minnesota that I had not met before. Two were former students of the School of Public Health and the remaining two were from different disciplines.

An important theme of the meeting was leadership development. Michael Fraser, the CEO of the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) gave the keynote presentation on being a leader rather than a manager. This presentation got me thinking about ways to mentor and benefit any future team members that I may be in charge in a managerial position. He stressed focusing on the vision of your organization or project and remaining committed to that vision rather than immediate tasks. This was a great takeaway message and guided the remainder of our time in Florida.

The best part of the meeting by far, was seeing fellow classmate, Annie Fedorowicz, present research from her field experience in Mobile, Alabama this past summer. Annie provided a concise, well-thought out, and professional presentation on her research. I greatly enjoyed listening to her presentation and I learned a lot about how pregnancy and contraception are viewed in the neighborhoods where she was working.

It was rewarding to see the successes of colleagues both near and far. A series of MCH trainees presented their work to the meeting attendees. Some projects were nearing their end while some were just beginning. This was an exciting part of the meeting as it was fun to see what other MCH trainees across the country are working on.

The meeting was designed as a way for MCH trainees to network with other trainees from around the country in order to learn from each other and collaborate on projects together in the future. This was especially helpful for me as I recently moved to Chicago, Il and I was happy to meet other MCH trainees and former trainees from the Chicagoland area. This was a pleasant surprise and I’m thankful to be able to start growing my network in Chicago.

Overall, the meeting was a great experience and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to attend.

Danielle Young is a second year MPH student in the Maternal and Child Health program at the University of Minnesota.