Meet the Team: Jhanak Mittal, Communications and Advocacy Outreach Intern and Hasna Chowdhury and Yucca Phun, Advocacy and Data Analyst Interns

AAPCHO
5 min readJul 20, 2023

Welcome to our blog series, “Meet the AAPCHO Team,” where you’ll have a chance to get to know our staff! Meet three of our summer interns, Jhanak Mittal, Communications and Advocacy Outreach Intern and Hasna Chowdhury and Yucca Phun, Advocacy and Data Analyst Interns, as they answer a few questions!

Jhanak Mittal

Jhanak Mittal smiles with a forest backdrop and a pillar behind her.

How did you hear about AAPCHO?

I heard about AAPCHO through my internship at OCA National.

Who is an Asian American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander health champion that you think people should know about?

My AA and NH/PI health champion has always been Margaret Chung. As the first female Chinese-American physician in the United States, she walked, so we could run. She faced and broke a plethora of barriers in her career, whether race or gender.

What are you most looking forward to during your internship with AAPCHO?

As an Intern at AAPCHO, I am looking forward to developing new skills in advocacy and communication work. Since I am passionate about healthcare reform, these skills would assist me in my future profession.

What are your plans after your internship with AAPCHO?

After this internship, I plan on completing my undergraduate studies in Sciences and applying to medical school. I believe that the best way to advocate for healthcare reform is from within the industry, hence I plan on pursuing a career in medicine.

What is your favorite or go-to childhood comfort food?

My go-to childhood comfort food is dal chawal, Hindi for lentil soup and rice, a famous and staple Indian dish. Its simplicity owns its comfort. Plus it tastes best when my mom cooks it.

Hasna Chowdhury

Hasna Chowdhury smiles at the camera between two walls — one blank and another lined with windows.

How did you hear about AAPCHO?

I first heard about AAPCHO through Health Career Connection (HCC). HCC empowers undergraduates and recent graduates like myself to pursue health careers through comprehensive internships and workshops. Through HCC, students gain real-world exposure, mentorship, and skills they need to be prepared for jobs and graduate training in the health professions. I was excited when HCC matched me with AAPCHO as AAPCHO’s mission to improve the health status and access of AAs and NH/PIs deeply resonates with my passion to promote health equity, especially among vulnerable populations. I am excited to work for AAPCHO and continue to get to know everyone on the team. :)

Who is an Asian American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander health champion that you think people should know about?

I think everyone should know about Margaret Chung who was noted as the first female Chinese-American physician in the United States. She is an inspiration for many, especially women of color, who want to become a physician. She also founded one of the first Western hospitals, the Chinatown Free Clinic in San Francisco, which provided healthcare services to the underserved Chinese American community. I admire Chung’s perseverance and resilience to create better opportunities for herself and make a difference in her community.

What are you most looking forward to during your internship with AAPCHO?

I am excited to learn how I can be a better advocate for better health especially for underrepresented communities through policy and data analysis. I always saw myself working in the policy realm to uplift the voices who have historically been silenced. I want to learn more about how AAPCHO is able to uplift the voices of AAs and NH/PIs for better health outcomes while also not suppressing these communities’ voices at the same time. Often, policymakers overlook the needs of the communities they are representing and it is critical that organizations like AAPCHO exist to combat this discrepancy to ensure that the health needs of everyone are met regardless of race, class, gender, etc. I am very honored to work with AAPCHO and learn more about the resilient communities AAPCHO advocates for.

What are your plans after your internship with AAPCHO?

As a recent graduate, I hope to continue to embark on my journey in the health policy field as I believe policy is one of the best tools to make a change on a grand scale, especially for vulnerable communities. I want to be able to advocate for better policies and laws that eliminate health disparities and promote health equity. I hope to work in an organization (like AAPCHO) whose mission and goals align with my values to make a difference for the underserved.

What is your favorite or go-to childhood comfort food?

Porota (parotta) with chini (sugar)! This Bengali meal was definitely my go-to breakfast food as a kid which later fueled my sweet tooth now.

Yucca Phun

Yucca Phun smiles at the camera in front of a building with heavy brown doors and cement stairs.

How did you hear about AAPCHO?

I was first introduced to AAPCHO through Health Career Connection (HCC), which matched me to AAPCHO for a summer internship. As I looked on AAPCHO’s website, I found that Asian Health Services was a current member. Born and raised in Oakland, CA, I went to Asian Health Services for all of my health needs. Furthermore, I participated in many of their youth programs and interned for them. I was really excited to see this connection and continue working within community health in a new capacity.

Who is an Asian American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander health champion that you think people should know about?

I think people should know about Dr. Bernie Lim. She is the founder of Freedom Community Clinic, a community-centered clinic that provides Whole-Person Healing to underserved communities, specifically Black, Brown, and immigrant communities. As a young woman of color interested in public health, she inspires me to continue my career path in the way she navigates health care. She prioritizes and uplifts her community while providing for their holistic health needs.

What are you most looking forward to during your internship with AAPCHO?

As an advocacy and data analyst intern, I am most looking forward to developing my professional skills. This is going to be my first time working on policy briefs and reviewing census data. I am very excited to advocate for underserved communities in this new position! I also am looking forward to connecting with other public health professionals in regard to their career journeys.

What are your plans after your internship with AAPCHO?

After my internship with AAPCHO, I’ll be finishing up my senior year at University of California, Berkeley. After undergrad, I plan to take a gap year or two before attending grad school for a Master's in Public Health. I hope to be working in the maternal, child, adolescent health (MCAH) space.

What is your favorite or go-to childhood comfort food?

My go-to childhood comfort food is rice porridge. Whenever I was sick, my mom would make it for me. And there’s so many different ways to eat it. You could add dried pork, eggs, chicken, green onions, etc.

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AAPCHO

The Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations — dedicated to promoting advocacy, collaboration and leadership to improve AA and NHPI health.