My School-Based Health Care Summer: Reflections from an Intern

By Anna Gabriella Casalme

During the past few years, I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved with the School-Based Health Alliance in several capacities: as a youth consultant with the Alliance’s California state affiliate, as a Youth Advisory Council (YAC) member, and now as a member of its Board of Directors. This summer, thanks to a generous scholarship from the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership, I worked as a policy and advocacy intern in the School-Based Health Alliance’s Washington, DC office. As someone who is passionate about the school-based health care (SBHC) model, I’ve benefitted so much from engaging in SBHC advocacy this summer—especially during such a dire time for health care policy on Capitol Hill. I’ve shared some highlights of my experience below.

Using “Design-Thinking” to Combat Student Stress and Anxiety

On June 19, I challenged young convention attendees in a crash course on “design-thinking”—or human-centered design—in my “Design-Thinking for Better Health” workshop at the 2017 National School-Based Health Care Convention. Taught at universities and companies across the globe, the design-thinking framework is an empathetic, iterative, and fast-paced approach to problem solving. As the participants became familiarized with the model, I split them into groups led by members of the California School-Based Health Alliance Youth Board. Their challenge? Use the design-thinking framework to answer this question: How might we help students deal with stress and anxiety?

Over the course of the three-hour workshop, each group tapped into their creativity. They worked together to design programs, products, and campaigns that would improve their own health and that of their peers. After interviewing their peers, ideating, and prototyping, each group presented their solutions to the judges — the national 2017 Youth Advisory Council.

To say I was thrilled by the outcome would be an understatement. Their solutions were remarkably diverse and innovative, ranging from Werk, a mobile app for de-stressing on the go, to MentorMe, a mentorship program for first-generation college students. The winning idea was StudenTrac, a tool to facilitate student-teacher communication and improve students’ time management skills.

The energy, optimism, and imagination of the young people in my generation never ceases to amaze me—and this workshop was no exception.

Supporting the Leaders of Tomorrow, Today

As a former member of the national Youth Advisory Council, I’ve enjoyed working with new 2017 YAC members throughout the summer to develop their program curriculum. I recall how my own confidence was bolstered by my time on that council, so I’ve relished the opportunity to watch the same thing happen among the new members.

The youth development programming at the School-Based Health Alliance continues to provide meaningful opportunities for youth to engage with Alliance staff, projects, and national partners, and I can’t wait to witness the council’s impact on two initiatives in particular this year: the Youth Safety Net Project and SBIRT in SBHCs.


After only nine weeks here, the degree to which I’ve expanded my understanding about health care policy and youth development has been astounding. This fall, I’ll attend the University of Edinburgh to pursue my master’s degree and I’m eager to build on these experiences in my quest to promote child and adolescent health. My sincere thanks to CAPAL and the School-Based Health Alliance for making this internship possible!


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