It still feels surreal that I have come to the end of my summer practicum. I must confess that I was not sure how my practicum experience was going to be, given the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to these uncertainties, my practicum completion dates had to be moved a couple of times so that I could meet the goals initially set for the practicum and to gain as much knowledge and skills I had planned to learn at the start of the practicum.

Having gone through all these, I must say I feel more empowered than I ever imagined I was. It was an introspective and self-reflective period for me. I remember feeling quite sad that I could not visit family and friends due to the pandemic. I recall feeling so lonely at a time, but I reached out to an inner strength that I never knew I had and I felt much better and much stronger. This goes to prove that indeed, ‘where there is a will, there is a way’. If you persevere, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Departing New Jersey to Lagos, Nigeria whilst observing physical distancing- “the new normal.”

Departing New Jersey to Lagos, Nigeria whilst observing physical distancing- “the new normal.”

My practicum even though did not go as planned, has been very interesting.  I finally (after much delay) got the opportunity to travel to my home country Nigeria which is the location of my summer practicum. I enjoyed the privilege of working with primary data on child nutrition. I produced a framework for performance monitoring and management for a project that is focused on improving child nutrition in the communities. Even though I couldn’t go out to the communities to put names and faces to the data I worked with, owing to the lockdown necessitated by the pandemic, however, I felt fulfilled knowing that I played a small part in improving nutrition and health status of some vulnerable children. This has strengthened my resolve in learning as much as I can and being the best public health practitioner, I can be. The big lesson for me from this experience is that despite the pressure on the outside, we can draw from our inner strength to stay focused on the goal, adopt new strategies when necessary to make the positive impact we desire to see. There is always light at the end of the tunnel, so let us keep pushing.

Maureen