About the Blog

Maternal and child health (MCH) trainees from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (UMN), Alexis Chavez (MPH 2022), and from the University at Albany, Alyssa Pochkar (MPH 2022), are the current blog editors of our student-led National MCH Trainee Blog. This blog is hosted by the UMN Center for Leadership Education in Maternal and Child Public Health (CoE) in partnership with the University at Albany MCH Public Health Catalyst Program. The blog provides an outlet for MCH students affiliated with the HRSA-funded Centers of Excellence (COE) in MCH Education, Science, and Practice Programs or the MCH Public Health Catalyst Programs to share their MCH-related work and experiences. 

The purpose of the blog is to help provide MCH students an opportunity to share their experiences in a national online community, create a professional product for the public, and better connect with fellow MCH trainees across the nation. Together, Alyssa and Alexis have collaborated since early 2021 to lead and maintain the blog by acting as the main sources of contact for all blog-related work, and maintaining communication with each other, their teams and the blog’s audience. As co-editors, they have recruited authors to feature their MCH work, the MCH Leadership Competencies to be discussed in the post, and published pieces on the blog for students and public health professionals to see. They have had the opportunity to communicate with other MCH students across the nation and strengthen their skills and core MCH leadership competencies. While doing so, Alyssa and Alexis have worked together to further develop and navigate the national site, showcase students’ MCH work, as well as promote and increase the dissemination of blog opportunities to trainees in all COE and Catalyst programs. 

The Blog Featured at Making Lifelong Connections 2022 

As their time with the blog comes to an end, they have had the opportunity to reflect on their progress with the blog by creating and presenting a research poster about the blog’s impact for the Making Lifelong Connections 2022 national conference in San Diego, hosted by the University of Washington Pediatric Pulmonary Center. As of fall 2020, there have been 17 blog posts from 11 different HRSA-funded CoE in MCH and MCH Catalyst Programs. Since the blog’s inception, 13 posts have featured students’ work at the state level, 9 posts at the local level, 5 at the national, and 3 at the international level. Alyssa and Alexis have also worked hard to increase the number of posts per semester, the diversity of competencies featured, the representation of MCH trainees from COE or Catalyst Programs, as well as add to the number of views since starting their roles as co-editors for the blog. As both editors prepare to graduate this May 2022, they hope to successfully transition their editor roles to the future UMN-TC and UAlbany trainees who will continue to lead the blog, and work towards increasing dissemination of blog opportunities to all MCH trainees as well as evaluate the blog’s impact on authors and readers.

 Reflecting on their time leading the blog: 

I enjoy my position as a co-editor of MCH Leads because it provides me with the opportunity to see the amazing work of MCH students across the country! I am always inspired by their projects, as well as their reflection on their work. It is exciting to see the potential of the upcoming MCH workforce!


It has been such an honor to be one of the editors for the MCHLeads blog during the past two years of my MCH Program at the UMN! Taking part in leading this blog with my team has been such a wonderful experience, providing me the chance to collaborate and learn from fellow MCHers from all over the country. I am so thankful for the opportunities the blog has provided me and look forward to seeing how the blog will continue to prosper with the future MCH trainees!


Continue reading to learn more about their individual MCH journey and work outside of the blog below!

Alexis Chavez

Alexis (she/her) is a second-year online Master of Public Health (MPH) student at the University of Minnesota (UMN). She will be graduating this May 2022 from UMN’s School of Public Health Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Program with minors in Health Equity and Health Services Research, Policy, and Administration. Along with being a full-time student, Alexis has worked as the primary editor for our MCH National Trainee Blog, was an intern for the Eyes on Learning Organization, and worked as a medical scribe for a pulmonologist and cardiologist. Her public health interests include children with special health care needs, mental and behavioral health, and early childhood and adolescent health. 

My ultimate goal is to not only become a pediatrician but to become a well-rounded, empathetic, and compassionate caregiver. In pursuit of this, I hope to help bridge the gap between medical science and public health to advocate and create effective change by addressing health disparities and achieving health equity to be able to provide genuine care for MCH populations.


Meet Alexis: School, Work and Professional Efforts Outside of the Blog

During her second year, the Spring 2022 semester, Alexis pursued her Applied Practice Experience with the Eyes on Learning (EOL) organization in Arizona (AZ). The EOL is a coalition of state, local, and national organizations that commit to improving access to vision services for children to achieve good health, social development, and school success. Alexis’ role during her internship at EOL was to contribute to their current work in research and analysis of gaps of information and unmet needs in children’s vision health in AZ.

During her time pursuing work with the EOL organization, Alexis has mastered different MCH Leadership Competencies. She mastered Competency 1. MCH Knowledge Base/Context through her work analyzing quantitative data from the EOL data Dashboard that stemmed from the prioritization of identifying gaps and disparities among the children of AZ in their vision health. She also strengthened her Competency 5, Communication, with her work with identifying gaps in access to health in different subpopulations in AZ to determine specific audiences and sectors for different communication methods that will be effective for the children. Lastly, she mastered Competency 7, Cultural Competency by identifying cultural differences among the child populations and reaching them through different communication methods related to educational videos and messages on different media platforms. Through Alexis’ work conducting an analysis report, she has been able to work closely with contributing gaps of information on children of AZ and their accessibility to vision health. She has learned how to interpret the available data to help provide a better understanding of possible disparities among this population and communicate these findings in a multitude of ways. She has also been able to pursue her analysis by strengthening her cultural awareness and identifying possible inequities and barriers that different subpopulations among AZ children may be facing with their vision health. 

Alexis has also gained clinical experience working as a medical scribe for a pulmonologist and cardiologist, Alexis has been able to assist in serving the geriatric population in parts of AZ. While scribing, she has been able to shadow the physicians in their care for their patients as well as acquire knowledge related to different fields of medicine. 

Lastly, Alexis was selected as one of the attendees for the Making Lifelong Connections 2022 “Weaving Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism into an MCH Career” Conference in San Diego. She was also selected to present her and Alyssa’s poster presentation of their blog work. During her time at the conference, Alexis was able to meet with current and former MCH trainees from across the nation and engage in discussions, network, build professional connections, and enhance her MCH leadership skills. Alexis shares, “I am eternally grateful to have been selected as one of the attendees for the MLC Conference. Being a part of this conference was simply amazing; I learned so much from every individual at the conference, and meeting MCH students and professionals of all specialties across the nation was such a wonderful and enriching experience!”

Alyssa Pochkar

Alyssa (she/her) is a second-year Master of Public Health student at the University at Albany School of Public Health concentrating in Epidemiology and receiving a certificate in Maternal and Child Health. Outside of her studies, Alyssa is one of the Graduate Assistants for the University at Albany MCH Catalyst Program and is a Project Specialist at the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) in the Bureau of Community Chronic Disease Prevention. Her public health interests include maternal and child health, public health nutrition, and early childhood development. After graduation, Alyssa hopes to continue working in early childhood development at the state level.

Meet Alyssa: School, Work and Professional Efforts Outside of the Blog

Alyssa completed one of her MPH internships this past summer at the NYSDOH in the Bureau of Community Chronic Disease Prevention. Through this position, she mastered MCH Leadership Competency 5, Communication, while contributing to a breastfeeding disparities report for the New York State (NYS) Legislature. As an intern, Alyssa took on many projects that allowed her to communicate information through verbal and written channels to a variety of audiences. She conducted a literature review to understand racial/ethnic disparities in breastfeeding initiation, exclusivity, and duration, potential reasons for these disparities, and promising and evidence-based strategies to improve breastfeeding rates and reduce disparities. This review was meant to illustrate to the legislature the magnitude and significance of racial/ethnic disparities in breastfeeding, and offer insight as to where and how the NYS Legislature can intervene. Additionally, Alyssa created summary reports of national and NYS breastfeeding trends to share with internal partners and inform recommendations. This enhanced her communication skills as she translated the results of data analysis into information that could be understood by all, regardless of their educational background. Furthermore, information related to the literature review and summary reports were communicated verbally to both internal and external audiences to solicit feedback. It is not only important that written information is communicated to the NYS Legislature in a concise and actionable manner, but internal communication and understanding is crucial as well. All partners must be in agreement on the metrics used and recommendations provided to ensure a cohesive report. Communication is essential for this project, as the report has the potential to change breastfeeding policies and increase funding around breastfeeding initiatives.

Aside from working on the Breastfeeding Disparities report, Alyssa also had the opportunity to jump into many projects such as serving as a content reviewer for the 2022 Supporting and Promoting Breastfeeding in Health Care Settings webinar series that the NYSDOH puts on in collaboration with the University at Albany School of Public Health, and join the policy review team for Breastfeeding Friendly Practice designation. Both of these projects allowed Alyssa to enhance her skills in Competency 10, Interdisciplinary/Interprofessional Team Building by working with others from different educational backgrounds or disciplines to accomplish a common goal. This involved an intense amount of communication to articulate a shared vision, listening to others’ contributions and opinions, and identifying strengths to determine the most appropriate responsibilities for each team member.

“Interdisciplinary/Interprofessional Team Building is important in public health, as we often have to work with a variety of stakeholders and other professionals both in the field and outside of it. It is essential to know how to work with others from other disciplines and backgrounds to ensure that the common goal is met and that all voices are heard.”


Alyssa is also one of the Graduate Assistants for the Maternal and Child Health Catalyst Program at the University at Albany School of Public Health where communication is also an essential part of this position. Alyssa is responsible for creating and disseminating the weekly e-newsletter to connect past and present MCH students to professional development and career opportunities. Alyssa also promotes programmatic events, evaluates participant feedback surveys, and disseminates the results to event speakers. Alyssa plays a key role in collecting and managing data related to federal grant reporting requirements. 

Funding provided by the Center for Leadership Education in Maternal and Child Public Health at the University of Minnesota and the University at Albany School of Public Health Maternal and Child Health Public Health Catalyst Program, which are supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This information or content and conclusions of related outreach products are those of the authors and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.