Past TAI Intern Profiles

Kailey White

Fall 2016 Intern

Undergraduate - Public Policy and Administration with a minor in Political Science

James Madison University

Read more about Kailey here.


Michael Drougas

Summer 2016 Intern

Undergraduate - History and Politics

Oberlin College

Read more about Michael here.


Shiniquia “Nicki” Colbourne

Summer 2012 Intern

MPH - Master of Public Health
Capella University

Background: Nicki earned her Master's Degree in Public Health at Capella University. Nicki volunteers as a Hillsborough County Gaurdian ad Litem (GAL) representing abused, neglected and abandoned children in court.

Interest in TAI: Nicki was initially interested in working with TAI because she was looking to gain a better understanding how TAI can provide our nations Veterans and their family members with health information and resources.

Nicki appreciated the guidance and supervision with leadership and her mentor; it provided insight and assisted her in improving her writing, developmental and communications skills as well as her ability to help implement my developed outreach framework and individual project (i.e. Outreach to Veterans Hospital in Tampa Florida) in which she was encouraged to play an important role as a leading contributor on this project within the company.

The long term impact for Nicki was having knowledge on how to reach targeted populations to provide the best quality care for all through policies, education and community engagement.

The staff is wonderful and readily available to answer questions, and encourages interns new thoughts and ideas. Staff willingness to encourage Interns to participate in community events and meetings are commendable! This allows the intern to gain more knowledge and TAI ability to encourage diversity within the organization.

Current Field/Future Plans: Nicki hopes to work with an organization in the Quality Assurance role. The role will allow her to improve, staff training, programs projects and needed resources.

What impacted me from the beginning is the explanation of TAI history and HIV/AIDS relationship. By providing historical information allowed me to feel this agency was the right selection for my internship among others to complete my Outreach Project targeting Veterans and their family members.

Lelia Hoover

Summer 2012 Intern

Undergraduate - Public Policy and Communication with a minor in Social and Economic Justice
of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

Background: Lelia is earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Public Policy and Communication with a minor in Social and Economic Justice at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Interest in TAI: Lelia was initially interested in working with TAI because she was looking for experience in the non profit sector that complimented my public policy degree. Washington is the perfect location for the type of work I hope to eventually do, and health policy has always been an interest of mine.

My main duties included attending and reporting on meetings and calls. Additionally, I helped organize press briefings and worked on an extended statistic research project focusing on different populations living with HIV/AIDS.

I learned a lot about health policy and HIV in general that will help me in the future and gave me a better sense of the type of work that policy makers accomplish on a day to day basis. Also, having the opportunity to meet other HIV community professionals and become familiar with their organizations will be very beneficial in my job search after graduation.

Current Field/Future Plans: Lelia is looking for an entry level job in the non-profit sector after graduation, with potential graduate school plans in the future.

My favorite event was a briefing hosted by amFAR where Timothy Brown spoke about his experience and HIV cure. Not only was it amazing to hear him speak, but listening to scientists and their optimistic HIV cure research was very inspiring and created a very hopeful sense for a cure in the future. Additionally, attending the AIDS 2012 Conference was a great experience where I really enjoyed hearing people speak and motivate people around the world about an AIDS free generation.

Billie Jean Shaw

Summer 2012 Intern

Undergraduate - Mass Communication major with a focus in broadcasting
Winthrop University

Background: Billie Jean is earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications with a focus on broadcasting at Winthrop University.

Interest in TAI: Billie Jean was initially interested in working with The AIDS Institute because she loved the purpose behind the organization. In her home town, Billie Jean worked with a program that stressed the importance of living a healthy lifestyle to prevent HIV/AIDS, and when she saw this opportunity Billie Jean immediately wanted to get involved. It involved something she felt passionate about and aligned with her major.

Current Field/Future Plans: In this field, Billie Jean writes and produces news stories. Her future/career plans are to become a news reporter and anchor. Billie Jean has goals of working in the entertainment field.

This was a great experience for my field. I got to experience a different side of communications from a different aspect. Since I have only worked with companies that dealt solely with the media (i.e.: news and radio stations), it was good to gain an experience in a different field. It allowed me to broaden my knowledge of HIV/AIDS and it really helped me with my writing skills as well.

Benita Chilampath

Spring 2012 Intern

MPH - Global Communicable Diseases
University of South Florida - Tampa

Background: As an undergraduate, she attended the University of Florida and majored in Health Education and Behavior. Benita was also Pre-medicine student. She attended the University of South Florida to earn my Masters of Public Health with a concentration in Global Communicable Diseases. Benita also earned by graduate certificate in Infection Control.

Interest in TAI: Benita was initially interested in working with TAI because she spent many years learning about HIV/AIDS and working with it as well. Benita was interested in learning more about the policy aspects of the disease that The AIDS Institute deals with. She was also interested to learn more about how a non-profit organization operates.

Benita enjoyed her internship at The AIDS Institute very much. Benita was significantly involved in grant research/writing and in the planning/implementing and evaluation of the statewide PPG, PCPG and CAG meetings.

Benita's field experience at The AIDS Institute has taught her a great deal about the various dimensions regarding HIV/AIDS. This will help Benita to better serve my patients as a future physician.

Benita's advice would be to utilize the resources given to you and make the most of your time at The AIDS Institute. Be open with the staff and express your goals and objectives clearly so that you can be sure to meet them.

Current Field/Future Plans: Benita graduated from USF with my MPH in the spring of 2012 and I will be attending medical school at Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine in the Fall. Benita hopes to marry her public health education with the clinical education that she acquire in medical school. As of now, Benita has a desire to work with infectious diseases.

I really enjoyed attending the CAG and PCPG meetings. It gave me the opportunity to see how care providers and consumers both work together to meet the needs of the populations affected by HIV/AIDS. Everyone was really friendly and the meetings were great networking opportunities.

Devin Bryant

Spring 2011 Intern

MPH – Global Communicable Diseases
University of South Florida - Tampa

Background: Devin has a Bachelors in Nursing, and has been a practicing Nurse in the Army for 10 years. Over the last several years she moved into Public Health Nursing and began to work with people with HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Infections. After a few years in this area she decided to pursue a Masters of Public Health, with a concentration in Global Communicable Diseases.

Interest in TAI: Devin was interested in doing a field placement with The AIDS Institute because she enjoyed working with patients with HIV/AIDS, but did not know much about the policy side. The AIDS institute offered a semester worth of hands on training in Global, Federal, National, State and Local Policy Development and Advocacy.

Current Field/Future Plans: Devin will graduate with her MPH in May of 2011, and then move to Washington DC with the Army. Her future job will be working as a Nurse Clinical Trials Coordinator on mainly Infectious Disease Vaccines.

"Never have I worked with a group of professionals more passionate about their jobs. To work in HIV/AIDS Advocacy you have to be patient, diligent, and persistent every day of the year, to see the changes come about that improve the lives of those affected by HIV/AIDS. The AIDS Institute is a great place to do a Field Experience and learn what effective Advocacy from the local to the Global level looks like."

Kemesha Gabbidon

Spring 2011 Intern

MPH - Global Communicable Diseases
University of South Florida - Tampa

Background: Kemesha has earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and Chemistry and has long been interested in disease prevention and health promotion. With her interests identified she was able to find the ideal field of interest through public health.

Interest in TAI: Kemesha was interested in completing her field placement with TAI because of their national impact on HIV/AIDS advocacy that stemmed from grassroots beginning.

Current Field/Future Plans: Kemesha is interested in health promotion and prevention particularly of infectious diseases in which HIV/AIDS is the primary focus. However she is interested in numerous aspects that affect our global health ranging from prevention to advocacy.

The AIDS Institute was able to broaden my knowledge of the various branches of public health targeted at reducing and ending the spread of HIV/AIDS in conjunction with that the staff was instrumental in ensuring a worthwhile experience”

Dawn Marie Hunter

Spring 2011 Intern

MPH – Global Communicable Diseases
University of South Florida - Tampa

Background – Dawn is the first student to enroll in the MPH/JD program between USF and Stetson College of Law.  She has undergraduate degrees in both English and Microbiology, and had completed a year of law school before beginning her MPH work at USF.

Interest in TAI – Dawn was working as a microbiologist at the USF Center for Biological Defense, and was considering a field placement in one of the affiliated labs.  However, her advisor suggested finding a field placement that would teach her something new, and help bridge the MPH and JD programs.  TAI was the perfect fit.

Current Field/Future Plans – Dawn will complete her MPH in the summer of 2010, then return to Stetson Law with plans to graduate in 2013.  Her long-term interest is in public health policy and advocacy related to neglected and emerging diseases.

 “Everyone should have a field experience like this. The practical application of everything you learn in class is invaluable, and I have learned so much.  The AIDS Institute is a great place to be no matter what your concentration, because the work done here is inter-disciplinary.”

Anita Brown

Fall 2010 Intern

MPH - Social Health Sciences
University of South Florida - Tampa

Background: Anita has earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and minor in Chemistry from Francis Marion University in South Carolina. Anita later decided to pursue a MPH in Socio-Health Sciences.

Interest in TAI: Anita was initially interested in working with TAI because she was eager to understand the HIV epidemic from a different perspective: an angle more focused on policy rather than prevention.

Current Field/Future Plans: Anita is expected to graduate Summer 2011. She is interested in working within a community based STI/HIV prevention organization as a program analyst or program planner.

“I have a greater appreciation for TAI and organizations like them that are so instrumental in helping prevention organizations reach their goals.”

Courtney Smith

Summer 2010 Intern

MPH - Epidemiology
University of South Florida - Tampa

Background: Courtney Smith has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. Courtney ultimately decided to pursue a MPH in Epidemiology.

Interest in TAI: Courtney chose to intern with TAI because of her interest in infectious disease, especially the HIV/AIDS epidemic. During the interview Courtney realized she would be able to attain a more comprehensive view of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and so she was enthused about the prospect.

Current Field/Future Plans: Courtney is interested with working with infectious disease outbreaks at a local or state level. She currently is an epidemiologist for the state of Wyoming Department of Health and she works with HIV/AIDS, other STDs, Viral Hepatitis, and TB. 

“The greatest impact was Michelle’s kindness and willingness to stop and help you regardless of what she was doing.”

Patrick Jouissance

Summer 2010 Intern

MPH – Global Communicable Diseases
University of South Florida - Tampa

Background – Patrick was a practicing family physician in Haiti before enrolling at USF for his MPH.  He thought that having an MPH would help him to better understand public health issues and challenges in Haiti, and enable him to have a greater impact in his community.

Interest in TAI – Patrick was working with HIV-TB co-infected patients in Haiti as a clinician, but he didn’t have a policy and advocacy background.  He was interested in the work TAI is doing and learning more about how policy and advocacy are important factors in reducing the burden of HIV in this population.

Current Field/Future Plans – Patrick is a Fulbright-Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Fellow in the area of Health Systems based on Primary Health Care.  He is currently based in Washington, D.C.

"I learned a lot, it was a good experience.  I think you must have an interest in the field, and do your best to get involved right from the beginning."

Finnette Louis

Summer 2010 Intern

MPH - Health Policy Management
University of South Florida - Tampa

Background:Finnette gained a Bachelor’s of Science in nursing and decided to pursue a MPH in health policy and management.

Interest in TAI: Finnette was interested in interning at TAI because she believed that she would make an impact in what she considered an ideal organization.

Current Field/ Future Plans: Finnette is currently employed as a registered nurse in the Neonatal Care Unit providing care to premature and critically ill infants. Finnette wishes to grow in her career by becoming involved in quality improvement or the improvement of clinical standards.

The work at TAI was meaningful and the overall goal was clear”

“I think Michelle impacted me the most; she seemed to genuinely love what she does and is knowledgeable in all aspects of TAI. I would hope to be as enthusiastic about my future career choice”

Christine Spiker

Summer 2010 Intern

MPH - Public Health Education
University of South Florida - Tampa

Background: Christine has over 5 years experience in the health and wellness field. She began her academic career as a pre-nursing student at FSU and later decided to transition to a career field that focused on disease prevention. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science and a minor in Public Health. She ultimately decided to attain a MPH in Public Health Education.

Interest in TAI: Christine decided to complete her field placement at the AIDS Institute because it was outside of her comfort zone and unlike any other prospects being offered to her.

Current Field/Future Plans: Christine currently works as a Health Education Specialist for the West Central Florida Area Agency on Aging she implements health education programs for seniors in a five county area. In addition she teaches diabetes prevention at the Y and also works for a worksite wellness company. Christine hopes to continue working with seniors to increase their quality of life.

 “Michelle [Scavnicky] and Michael [Ruppal] were great to work with. They were always open to new ideas and our input. I have become so interested in HIV/AIDS issues since I interned there.

Reina Patel

Summer 2009 Intern

MPH – Epidemiology
University of South Florida - Tampa

Background – Reina has an undergraduate degree in Nutritional Sciences.  She currently works as a pharmacy technician while finishing her special project.

Interest in TAI – The AIDS Institute was the first field experience option Reina heard of and decided to pursue.  She thought that Michelle Scavnicky, Director of Education and field placement supervisor, was very helpful and a great supervisor.

Current Field/Future Plans – Reina’s future plan is to apply to medical school.

My assignments and tasks will have a great impact on my career choice because they not only helped me learn more about HIV/AIDS in the science aspect, but it helped me to see what The AIDS Institute is all about and how much work they do and how many people's lives they help.  Also, participating in the Florida AIDS Walk really opened my eyes.”


Complete List of Past Interns:                              

Lelia Hoover                    Summer         2012    DC            Public Policy,  Communication                   UNC
Billie Jean Shaw            Summer         2012    Remote    Mass Communications                               Winthrop
Bryant Smith                    Summer         2012    Remote    PhD - Leadership                                         Capella
Ariel Ley                           Summer         2012    Remote    Biology, Communications                           Davidson
Cory Combs                    Spring             2012    DC           Communications, Political Science           James Madison
Benita Chilampath         Spring             2012    Tampa    MPH - Global Communicable Diseases    USF
Lauren Woodward          Spring            2012    Tampa    MPH - Health Education                                 USF
Lynea Bach                      Spring            2012    Tampa    MPH - Epidemiology                                        USF
Markham Bradburn        Spring            2012    Tampa    MPH - Health Policy Management                USF
Nikki Colbourne              Spring            2012    Tampa    MPH                                                                    Capella
Ashley McCloud               Fall                 2011    DC          Sociology, Economics                                     UC-Santa Cruz
Coralia Vazquez-Otero    Fall                 2011    Tampa    MPH - Social Health Sciences                      USF
Bridget Verrette                Spring            2011    DC          Masters - Health Policy                                   George Washington
Thomas Plapinger         Summer         2011    DC          Political Science                                               Wheaton
Otito Uwechue                Summer         2011    Tampa    MPH - Global Communicable Diseases    USF
Stefanie  Alvarado          Summer         2011    Tampa    MPH - Global Communicable Diseases    USF
Dawn Hunter                   Spring            2011    Tampa    MPH - Global Communicable Diseases    USF
Devin Bryant                    Spring            2011    Tampa    MPH - Global Communicable Diseases    USF
Kemesha Gabbidon      Spring            2011    Tampa    MPH - Global Communicable Diseases    USF
Anita Brown                      Fall                 2010    Tampa    MPH - Social Health Sciences                     USF
Christine Spiker              Summer        2010    Tampa    MPH - Health Education                                USF
Courtney Smith               Summer        2010    Tampa    MPH - Epidemiology                                       USF
Finette Louis                   Summer        2010    Tampa    MPH - Health Policy Management                USF
Patrick Jouissance        Summer        2010    Tampa    MPH - Global Communicable Diseases    USF
Anagha Desai                 Spring            2010    Tampa    MPH - Public Health Practice                        USF
Melissa Armas               Summer        2009    Tampa    MPH - Health Policy Management                USF
Reina Patel                     Summer        2009    Tampa    MPH - Epidemiology                                        USF
Timi Adepoju                   Summer        2009    Tampa    MPH - Health Policy Management               USF