I had the opportunity to sit down with the JUMP! Interns at the close of their second month at CCHE. Chyntell Jones, Will Pettway, and Jahari Stamps make a powerful team of three, and they spoke about their backgrounds, their work in the internship so far, and what they’re looking forward to.

JUMP!, according to the interns, is an all-inclusive and immersive internship that includes every aspect of HIV prevention and intervention. Under the supervision of Noel Green, the hands-on program consists of training in networking, event planning, and outreach and engagement. Interns go through a medical case management and research training, as well as a phlebotomy course, after which they will have clinical experience at the Village, running blood tests. All three interns speak highly of their supervisor and of the experience of being able to work with a well-renowned person in the HIV prevention world. Chyntell adds that working with Noel has led her to really pay attention to the open-mindedness that exists in this community, and how doing this work can better her as a person.

Chyntell is a self-identified Trans Community Outreach Worker with more than three years of experience working in the LGBTQ community. Her biggest goals going into the internship were to learn more about the communities within which she’s working, and to better herself in the public health field. Jahari approaches the JUMP internship with experience in the ballroom community. They are currently the Mother of the House of Moskow and a Unit Secretary at Roseland Community Hospital. They were the former creative director of VOICES Triple S Southside Safe Space and are now looking to continue the work they were doing by getting a behind the scenes look into the work done in the HIV prevention world. Will has a background in sexual health education and organizing, and they are also a sexual health educator and organizer with the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health. 

Each of the three interns has a particular community population focus. These populations were assigned to each intern keeping in mind relative experience — the idea behind the matches was that each intern would have to push their own boundaries a bit. Chyntell, a trans woman, works with adolescents, while Will, the youngest of the three, is gaining experience working within the ballroom scene. Jahari is assigned to work with trans women, and echoes the other two when they bring up some of the challenges that they have faced so far, doing this work. 

“Being okay with knowing that your fight isn’t everybody else’s fight, being appreciative of the fact that there’s someone who looks like you, sounds like you, has walked the walk you’ve walked and is trying to help you,” they say. Jahari emphasizes that a huge part of this program is learning how to work with people in situations who may not have the same views as you, and still being able to carry out the task at hand. Will chimes in: “The biggest challenge is getting rid of your ego.” They continue that being there in the space and growing comfortable with learning in a space that they’re still figuring out how they exist in is vital in knowing how to care for people as people first, not based on their ideologies or the experiences they carry with them. 

All three interns say that they are most excited to keep being immersed in this space. They are all optimistic, and excited to learn from the CCHE team in the months to come.