Senior Seth Larson interns through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to promote health self reliance in Mexico
“I speak Spanish, I love Spanish. I love Latin America,” exclaimed health promotion major Seth Larson. After returning home from his mission in Bolivia, Larson sought out a public health internship that could take him back to Latin America to serve others. But he had to dig a little deeper than the typical internship office. He turned to the BYU Kennedy Center for an international and service-based opportunity.
Through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Larson discovered an internship working on welfare and self-reliance materials for the Church’s Department of Temporal Affairs in Mexico City. Although Larson is in his last semester of studies, he does a full-time student course load online while participating in-person for his part-time internship.
One of the leading causes of death in Mexico is obesity and type II diabetes, killing 800,000 people annually. This is the main reason why the internship has placed Larson on a committee that focuses on health in Mexico City. He is tasked to help write a manual for the Mexican people about type II diabetes treatment and prevention from a cultural perspective. It also aims to educate people on general health, such as in-home sanitation, a topic that has recently been raised due to last year’s COVID-19 death rates within the country.
Larson did not know he would be writing a health guide before he signed up for the internship, because most of the work the Department of Temporal Affairs has done is based on self-reliance. Once this health guide has been written, the BYU senior will continue to work on projects related to self-efficacy. “[Self-reliance] is not a big stretch from public health . . . [we help] people fight the social determinants of poor public health,” said Larson.
Poverty plagues between 9.1% and 9.4% of the world’s population in 2020, according to the biennial Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report. Identified by the WHO, poverty is a root cause of a significant burden of disease. Larsen noted, “I think [poverty] is still a really important part of public health, and we shouldn’t ignore that or think that it’s not related . . . [beating poverty] is a huge step towards becoming a healthier person.”
Aside from the professional opportunities he is given, Larson is taken out of his comfort zone. “I’m not in Provo—I don't know where everything is, I can’t go to Chick-fil-a when I’m sad. It’s just so beautiful, and it’s so exciting to just be here and to adapt and to learn.”
The most meaningful part of it all? The people, said Larson. He isn’t just sitting at a desk, writing a health guide for people he will never meet. He is meeting people that are going to be his friends forever.
If you are interested in participating in an internship like this one, visit Stephanie Lutz—internship coordinator for the BYU Department of Public Health—in room 2137 LSB, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit https://ph.byu.edu/undergrad-internships for more information on undergraduate internships.