Lehigh’s experiential learning program allows for student-led HIV research

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Matt Kravitz, ‘20, implemented a new statistical health disparities calculator to monitor the HIV Epidemic in the Minneapolis Ryan White HIV Program. Kravitz interned at a health department in Minneapolis, Minnesota, this past summer, funded by Lehigh’s Grants for Experiential Learning in Health. (Courtesy of Matt Kravitz)

Funded by Lehigh’s Grants for Experiential Learning in Health program (GELH), Matt Kravitz, ‘20, implemented a new statistical health disparities calculator to monitor the HIV Epidemic at the Minneapolis Ryan White HIV Program, where he worked as an intern this past summer. 

The Ryan White HIV Program is a Federal program that provides HIV-related health services. The program targets individuals without sufficient health care coverage or financial resources for coping with HIV.

“I spent time talking to disease investigators (and) health policy makers and witnessed how HIV programs are funded and where the grants come from,” Kravitz said. “But the main thing that I took away from this experience was when I met with people with HIV in the Minneapolis community, and listened to their stories.”

Kravitz said he used multiple quantitative analyses to identify health outcomes and service provisions for Ryan White clients. He said he had a lot of success in his findings and successfully guided health policy and funding to help end the epidemic. 

Lori Herz, a professor of bioengineering at Lehigh and a committee member in the GELH program, was one of the members who approved Kravtiz’s funding for the project. 

“The quality of his application, him meeting all of the eligibility requirements and the fact that we felt that the project had merit and was very organized, was why Matt was given Lehigh funding,” Herz said. 

Vassie Ware, a professor of molecular biology at Lehigh, was one of the founding advisory members of the GELH program.

She works with her fellow staff to accomplish the program’s aim to award grants to students who have an interest in experiential learning in the health industry.

Ware said all students in the program must give a presentation to the GELH faculty members in the fall.

“I am looking forward to hearing what he has accomplished,” Ware said.

Lehigh’s GELH program provides funds for many projects relating to health and healthcare for all undergraduate students.

Students who are interested in getting hands-on experience in the health or healthcare fields are able to apply for funding through the program. 

“Even though most days I was sitting behind a desk, looking at thousands of patients’ information, deciding what groups of people needed the most money for treatment, I realized that everyone has their own personal story,” Kravitz said. “In the future, when I am a health executive, or wherever I am with public policy, I always need to keep in mind that these are individuals with their own personal stories, not just patients on paper.”

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