This past summer I had the pleasure of working with the Sexual Health and Reproductive Equity (SHARE) program, through UC Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare. This program, led by Dr. Anu Manchikanti Gomez, conducts extensive research to further our understanding of what it takes for individuals to experience healthy sexuality, access reproductive self-determination and have the families they envision. While this program focuses on many different research areas, this summer I assisted with their Evaluation Study of the Abundant Birth Project.
The Abundant Birth Project is the first pregnancy income supplement program in the country, it provides unconditional cash supplements to Black and Pacific Islander pregnant people in San Francisco. The Evaluation Study, led by the SHARE program, aims to evaluate this project and understand how unconditional cash supplements given during pregnancy impacts pregnant people and their babies. Their hope is that, using the results from this Study, ABP’s ideas can be expanded to provide similar programs to people in the broader Bay Area and across the United States.
As a member of the Study’s research team, I administered over 35 quantitative surveys to Black and Pacific Islander pregnant people in the Bay Area. Each of these conversations ranged anywhere from 60 minutes to 90 minutes, where we explored their lived experiences from their first trimester through six months postpartum. We discussed everything from their health and wellbeing, stress and anxiety to experiences of racial discrimination and social support that’s available to them. I also administered two in-depth qualitative interviews to study participants. Continuing in this role in my final year of graduate school, it remains deeply rewarding, as it constantly informs me of the true concerns of pregnant people in my local community. Being able to speak directly with pregnant people about their wishes for their pregnancy and birth experiences as well as any hardships that they are experiencing puts into context the knowledge that I am gaining from my program.
Working with the SHARE program, I also had the opportunity to conceptualize, direct and produce a series of informational videos for the ABP Evaluation Study, explaining the purpose of the study and encouraging community members to get involved. In these videos, I interviewed community researchers with the Evaluation Study where they shared why this research is important to them and what to expect from surveys and interviews. I also had the opportunity to contribute to a manuscript that describes the experiences of Black and Latina pregnant people giving birth during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I am deeply grateful for my time spent with the SHARE program this past summer, and the opportunity to work with this amazing team coming into the academic year. The mentorship, guidance and support I continue to receive from the team has made this an invaluable experience, and I couldn’t have asked for more meaningful work to engage with this summer. Thank you so much to the Study’s research team, each and every community researcher, and to Dr. Gomez, Stephanie Arteaga, Erin Hubbard and Monica de la Cruz for truly pouring into me this past summer. Thank you to the Wallace Center for making this a possibility!
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