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Climate Change Close Up

July 28, 2020

The Yale Center on Climate Change and Health (YCCCH) matches Yale students with a limited number of summer internships related to climate change research and practice. These valuable hands-on learning opportunities are available to Yale School of Public Health students pursuing a master’s degree in public health and students from across Yale who are already serving as Student Associates at the Center due to their interest in climate change and health. Selected students can apply for funding support to cover expenses through either the Center itself or other sources.

This year’s summer interns are wrapping up their work. They are the first cohort to participate in the internship program since the YCCCH opened in the Yale School of Public Health in January 2020 as an extension of the Yale Climate Change and Health Initiative. The three students recently took a moment out of their busy schedules to share their stories, which we are highlighting this week.

Student: Nicholas “Nick” Elton

Internship: Connecticut Department of Public Health

Climate change is often framed as a global public health issue. But Nicholas “Nick” Elton got a chance to see climate change from a more localized perspective this summer when he took on an internship with the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

Elton, who is pursuing a Master of Public Health degree in environmental health sciences at the Yale School of Public Health, applied for the internship because he wanted to gain experience working on climate change strategies in government and the public sector.

During his time at the Department of Public Health, Elton reviewed past recommendations from the Governor’s Council on Climate Change and compiled local, regional and state climate change adaptation strategies. He also developed and conducted a statewide survey on the management and logistics of cooling centers and partnered with the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) to standardize information regarding the state’s post-disaster emergency shelters to aid in climate change adaptation planning.

Elton said the internship gave him unique insight into state department operations and communications.

“At this internship, I had firsthand experience being a part of the planning process of climate change adaptation at the state and local levels,” said Elton. “That involvement is something I appreciate because it can be difficult to understand the process in a classroom setting.”

Elton, who has yet to choose a definite career path, said the YCCCH internship gave him a broader perspective on potential careers in environmental science and those related to climate change.

“The communication and connections I made during this internship allowed me to observe a wide variety of careers that I had not considered and how they are all working on climate change issues from multiple perspectives,” Elton said.

One of Elton’s career goals is to help people who are and who will be affected by climate change and environmental issues.

“From this experience, I now have a better understanding of how I can achieve that through policy in the government sector,” Elton said.

More information on the Yale Center on Climate Change and Health’s Summer Internship program can be found on the Center’s website.

Submitted by Colin Poitras on July 27, 2020