My summer as a Graduate Education Intern and Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast

Changemaker Catalyst Award recipient, Rebecca Cormack, is completing her Applied Practicum Experience (APE) for her Master’s degree in Public Health at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (PPGC) in New Orleans. She has spent the first half of her summer advocating for reproductive rights, educating New Orleans youth, conducting data analysis, and generating partnerships with other local non-profit organizations.


Rebecca (center) with her APE preceptor (left) and PPGC health educator (right) at an abortion rights rally in New Orleans.

Hi! My name is Rebecca, and I am a graduate student in the School of Public Health obtaining my MPH in Maternal and Child Health. I graduated from Tulane undergrad with a degree in Public Health and French in 2021. I loved my undergraduate experience at Tulane so much and knew that I did not feel ready to leave New Orleans, so during my junior year I decided to pursue my Master’s degree through the combined BSPH/MPH program.

One requirement of the MPH program at Tulane is to complete an internship, known formally as the Applied Practicum Experience (APE). I always knew that health education was something I was passionate about and was looking towards as a potential career path, particularly within the realm of sexual and reproductive health. When the opportunity arose to be an Education Intern at PPGC (an organization that I have always admired), I knew I could not pass it up.


Me and my fellow colleagues advocating for women’s reproductive health rights outside of New Orleans City Hall.

A large part of my work involves facilitating different educational sessions held at our partner organizations, such as Café Reconcile and Odyssey House, to name two. The students we teach come from all backgrounds, are of all ages, and have a wide variety of previous knowledge and skill sets regarding reproductive and sexual health. The topics we teach include contraception and barrier methods, anatomy, healthy vs. unhealthy relationships, STIs, and healthy sexuality.

By teaching, I have strengthened my own knowledge on sexual and reproductive health topics, which has increased my confidence as a public health educator and professional. The students I teach ask a wide variety of questions, allowing me to witness first-hand how levels of sex education in the U.S. varies incredibly. It is so important to spread understanding and awareness on these topics, all the while abstaining from being judgmental, expressing support, and practicing open-mindedness!


Sometimes teaching is a challenge. I can tell that some students I teach are uncomfortable or unenthusiastic about the topics at first. Others come into the sessions very eagerly. No matter their outlook in the beginning, they always express their appreciation in the end, which makes me feel good, like my work and the work of my PPGC colleagues is expanding or changing perspectives in one way or another.

I also help out at PPGC events too! Here I am on the far right posing with another intern (middle) and PPGC NOLA’s health educator (left) as we tabled at Bywater Bakery to raise awareness during Sex Ed for All month in May.

An exciting accomplishment this summer occurred back in June when PPGC hosted its annual teen V.I.B.E. (Virtual, Inclusive, Bold Education) conference. The purpose of this half-day virtual conference was to engage teens from Louisiana and Texas in a day of learning and empowerment. The PPGC staff taught sessions on media literacy, gender identity and pronouns, and mental health, to name a few. I was involved in the planning and logistics of the event. I helped recruit teens to attend and I facilitated all communications with the teens and their parents and guardians leading up to, during, and after the event. The event was a hit with around 40 students in attendance!

Me and my PPGC colleagues after a successful Teen VIBE conference!
Above are the contraceptive-themed cupcakes that Bywater Bakery was selling during our tabling event.

Interning at PPGC has been such a meaningful experience, especially given the precarious position of reproductive rights in U.S. policy today. The friendships I have made with my fellow interns and the connections I have made professionally within PPGC are very telling of the inclusive, supportive environment that PPGC fosters. This internship has confirmed my interest in working for non-profit organizations in the future and has made me love education even more. It has also piqued my interest in working in public health policy. I will always be one Planned Parenthood’s  biggest fans for all the hard work they do and for their inspiring dedication to support anyone and everyone who walks through their doors!