Center for Health Equity


Practicum Reflection: Wes Gibson, MPH Student

Published: October 2, 2023

Student in front of greenery, posing for headshot.
Wes Gibbons, MPH Student

MPH student Wes Gibson was inspired to pursue his MPH in Health Services Organization at UTHealth Houston School of Public Health by his work with the Health Equity Collective and the Houston Food Bank's Food for Change initiative. The Food for Change initiative is the Houston Food Bank’s outreach program that partners with social service providers to use food to improve individuals' quality of life while addressing health care needs. Through this work, Gibson partnered with the Health Equity Collective, leading him to the Center for Health Equity.

“I wanted to gain the skill set to assess how different initiatives could better address the disparities in our healthcare and social services systems. My coursework has helped me, but I wanted hands-on experience working on a research project. That’s when Dr. Sharma, director of the Center for Health Equity, offered me a practicum opportunity,” says Gibson.

In March of 2023, the Center for Health Equity officially launched at the School of Public Health.

"In May, I began my MPH practicum. As a part of the practicum, I helped set up three studies evaluating the impact of Food is Medicine initiatives on pregnant mother’s health and well-being. I drafted surveys and Spanish translations and worked with team members to gain IRB approval for the projects. I also collaborated with other interns to begin a landscape analysis of Food is Medicine initiatives across Texas. I’ve gotten the chance to work with RedCap, a data collection software; help shape survey questions; learn more about Food is Medicine nationally and locally, and see the inner workings of a research team at the Center for Health Equity."

Gibson says this practicum experience has given him the confidence to keep moving forward and complete his MPH. 

"Immersing myself in these projects has shown me how much precision and intention goes into health equity research. The opportunities I was able to experience through this practicum, I have seen what it takes to make a difference in our community and now have more tools to address health disparities in our community.”