Freda Coren ’17 recently started a year-long job at the AIDS Institute in New York City. At this new position, the anthropology major, who minored in health studies and Spanish, engages in activism and advocacy for healthcare at the subsidiary of the New York State Department of Health.
As a governmental health organization, the Institute works to combat the AIDS epidemic via improving healthcare quality, offering AIDS education, and spreading awareness. It also provides health services to people with viral hepatitis and other sexually transmitted infections. Their mission statement is aptly: “End epidemics, fight stigma, promote health.”
“From what I’ve seen in my first few weeks here,” Coren says, “the Institute has taken incredible steps to understand, include, and elevate the experiences and input of those people who actually interact with the healthcare system.”
Coren is the program assistant in the office of Medical Director (and fellow Ford) Bruce Agins ’75, and she works on the Institute’s Quality of Care program. Her tasks involve studying qualitative, human data on healthcare consumers in New York, including patients with HIV/AIDS, hep-C, and others STIs, as well as patients in the LGBT community and those who use drugs.
“In many ways, I’ve seen some of the books and essays I read in my courses at Haverford come alive,” she says. “My academic life was centered around understanding the human component of health and healthcare.”
Learning about the AIDS epidemic through anthropological lenses in a class she took with Visiting Assistant Professor Chris Roebuck was the beginning of an undergraduate career in reconsidering healthcare, the medical system, and the human body. Coren spent a lot of time before and during her thesis “studying and writing about the intersections of socio-demographics like race, gender, and class with health, medicine, and bioethics.”
She first heard about the job opportunity at the AIDS Institute through the Center for Career and Professional Advising (CCPA). In fact, it was Agins and other alumni working at the Institute who conducted Coren’s interview for the position. For the Dallas local, a job in a governmental health organization will help her decide between “working directly with patients in a nonprofit or in a clinical capacity, working at the organizational level, or embarking on a Ph.D.”
Either way, Coren plans to pursue her passion for public health in pursuit of making a difference in people’s lives.
“The coolest thing about what I’m doing is seeing the data come alive,” she says. “I am not one for numbers or number games, but when I see the work that goes into having zero mother-to-child HIV transmissions, I appreciate the value of those numbers.”
“Where They’re Headed” is a blog series reporting on the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.