Student Spotlight Series: How Did Lai Jing Su Grow her Qualitative Research Skills at a Local Nonprofit?

#UMNMCH student Lai Jing Su (MPH 1st Year) wrote this reflection on how her deployment with Find Your Power contributed to her career in MCH.

Why did I choose to pursue an MPH in Maternal and Child Health (MCH)?

When I first got applied to the University of Minnesota Masters of Public Health Program, I immediately knew that I wanted to choose my concentration in MCH. I hope to use what I learn in classrooms and practical experience in bettering minority women’s rights (especially their right to access to healthcare), reduce the disparities in health outcomes, and help young mother’s find the resources they may need for a higher quality of life. Keeping this in mind, I looked for a deployment that most actively aligned with my interest in advocacy work with minority women and women in crisis.

What is Find Your Power?

Find Your Power (FYP) is a startup nonprofit organization based in Minneapolis. Its mission is to empower underrepresented women worldwide by expanding their access to fundamental resources and the Internet. These fundamental resources aim to help women further their education, advocacy, community, and employment.

My Role in Find Your Power

As the Research and Evaluation Intern, my role was to identify local groups and minority and underrepresented minority communities and women in crisis or transition that would benefit from partnering with FYP. I have helped conduct quantitative and qualitative research materials for grants that FYP would be applying to for funding for our test product. These materials included survey designs and questionnaire development that are used when we facilitate focus groups, key informant interviews and online surveys. The information that we gather from our research allowed us to see what resources were already existing in the Twin Cities as well as to look for resources that are needed by our target communities. We hope to launch an online product that will allow for individuals to be connected to resources in one platform, instead of having to rely on calling or going to different organizations. This product will hopefully allow for individuals to search for their specific needs and connect them to the organization directly.

What My Research Has Shown So Far

Through the use of focus groups, key informant interviews, and online surveys we have found that our target community has a gap between the information of resources presented to them versus actually being able to access them. For example, in a focus group that was done at Pillsbury United Communities, we found that the majority of the women that were present were willing to learn English as their second language as well as attend technology classes to bolster their knowledge of computer applications if those resources were physically closer to them. While they were aware of organizations that provided free or reduced classes, they cited transit cost as a major factor in not pursuing those interests.

My Journey With FYP

My past work experiences have always been in organizations in the nonprofit sector that have been established for many years. I have never worked in a start-up organization before and was unsure of what the culture would be like, especially since most of my work would be done remotely. I have learned that having a supportive supervisor, Ivy Kaminsky (FYP CEO), goes a long way in creating a tool that people can use to go after their dreams.. For example, FYP is currently working on a membership project titled “Lady Boss League” that aims to cultivate a community where purpose-driven, professional women can find support to further succeed in her business endeavors. Lady Boss League will provide connections to women that will allow their network to expand, allowing for these connections to be utilized at every phase of her career path. These connections include mentorship mentorship, support resources for troubleshooting, and a space where veterans can share their experiences and knowledge.

Lai Jing Su is a Florida born and raised, first generation Cuban Chinese graduate student in her first year as a MCH MPH student. Lai Jing received her BA in Spanish and a minor in Bioinformatics from the University of Florida. Her academic and research interests are in women and children’s health, child nutrition, and racial health disparities. After graduating, Lai Jing hopes to establish a career as a pediatric cardiologist and do advocacy work in health equity for minority women and children’s health.

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