Theresa Morley-McLaughlin ’21

Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA

This summer, I had the pleasure of working with the Boston University School of Public Health under the guidance of Williams alumna Jessica Leibler ’01.

My main focus this summer was to envision, design, and conduct my own public health research project. Given public health’s current focus on Covid-19 and my personal interest in both education and mental health, I decided to research how school closures due to the pandemic affected and continue to affect various aspects of children’s lives, including their academic progress and mental and emotional health. I was specifically interested in determining whether or not parental stress during the pandemic served as a filter through which parents viewed their children’s education and wellbeing during the shutdown and if this anxiety thus influenced parents’ perceptions of their children.

I created an online questionnaire designed specifically to gather data to answer my research questions, and submitted my entire project to BU’s Institutional Review Board (or IRB), whose job is to monitor research studies in order to ensure that proper ethical standards are met. Due to the great influx of Covid-19-related research, the IRB has received a much higher than normal number of proposals; thus, my project is currently still awaiting review. However, once my study is approved, I intend to complete the data collection throughout the fall and I hope to conduct the data analysis in the winter.

As I consider my future career options and endeavors, this summer will certainly help inform such considerations. My internship exposed me to a much wider breadth of professional topics than I anticipated, and these differing experiences helped me realize that I really appreciate and value variety in my work. It also affirmed that my career interests lie somewhere other than conducting research. I know that various forms of research come up in almost every profession, and I can still picture myself working on some research projects as a small portion of my work, but I don’t currently think that full-time, or even most of the time, research is the right path for me.

Finally, my internship also helped me begin to see the truly immense breadth of health-related careers and professional paths. As an individual who’s interested in medicine, I’m currently trying to decide whether I should attend medical school, get an MPH, or do something else altogether. It was comforting and inspiring to see that there are really so many different health-related jobs (and even more career combinations) available as potential options for me.

I am very grateful to have had this opportunity to learn more about myself both personally and professionally this summer. I want to express my sincere gratitude for the generosity of the ’68 Center for Career Exploration and the Public Service Internship that made this summer experience possible for me.