Tula Schapiro ’22

Berkshire Community College, Community Education and Workforce Development, Pittsfield, MA

This summer, I had the opportunity to develop a curriculum for a medical literacy course for non-native English speakers at Berkshire Community College (BCC). In addition to a host of liberal arts courses, BCC offers English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes and Community Education and Workforce Development courses focused on preparing students to work in three key industries: Hospitality, Advanced Manufacturing and Healthcare.

A successful Eph Zoom session.

My project was to design a course to equip those looking to go into healthcare with the necessary vocabulary, grammar and understanding of the larger healthcare systems within and beyond the Berkshire area. I started working on this project in January after it caught my eye on one of the biology department email blasts. As a recent graduate from a health coaching program, I was excited at the prospect of using my skills as a wellness coach to develop an enriching course for people looking to work in healthcare. I also believe in the mission of getting more people into healthcare as on the ground community healthcare workers. When I actually began developing the course, I realized how challenging it is to build a curriculum—especially one that must include not only a focus on content but also grammar. Though overwhelmed at first, I began a deep dive into understanding the conventions of ESOL education. Without a clear roadmap, I jumped in to creating engaging lesson plans for adults. To do so, I tried to focus on putting grammatical structures in context. For example, in our “pharmacy” lesson plan, the grammar focus is on active and passive voice so that we can discuss the difference between “being prescribed” a medication versus a doctor “prescribing” a medication.

I am so grateful for this internship that taught me so much about myself. Specifically, it showed me what work I enjoy doing and more importantly what work I enjoy less. I like collaborating with coworkers and supervisors rather than working on a project in isolation. The work sessions with my fellow Eph intern were much more engaging and successful for me which definitely surprised me because I have always preferred solo work to group projects in school. I think this was the case because my coworker and I had a mutual respect and work ethic. The job also illuminated that I would rather work as a health care provider rather than in the education sector of public health. While I was working on this internship I also had the opportunity to work in a free medical clinic for uninsured and underinsured patients in Bennington. Being able to compare the two jobs showed me that I prefer the dynamic aspect of providing care to patients to the remote planning that goes into creating lessons. As with my health coaching practice, I enjoy talking to patients. I appreciate their vulnerability and want to ally with them to improve their well-being. I am so grateful for the ’68 Center for Career Exploration and the Kraft Family for making this opportunity possible.