MxCC Student’s Select Internship Sparks Public Health Career Goals

August 11, 2020 (Middletown, Conn.) — Middlesex Community College (MxCC) student John “Jack” Howell, of Durham, participated in the Summer Health Professions Education Program, known as SHPEP, a select nationwide academic enrichment experience focused on improving access to information and resources in health professions. Only 80 students from across the country are accepted.

Jack HowellAs part of the summer program, Howell, a liberal arts and sciences major, enrolled in a combined physiology, biochemistry and organic chemistry course conducted virtually with instructors from the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Kentucky. He learned how each scientific discipline applies to conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis. Howell’s favorite activity was virtually shadowing physicians.

“Through the SHPEP experience, I gained confidence in taking upper-level coursework and valuable insight into entrance exams and applications. Most importantly, this program sparked my passion for public health and reducing health disparities,” said Howell, who has been accepted for transfer to UConn, Trinity College and Northeastern University. “I am interested in combining aspects of public health, such as health policy, with a career in medicine, especially psychiatry.”

Even though the summer program was online, he bonded with the other students through team-based learning and social activities.

During Howell’s time as a Middlesex student, he was a classroom assistant for two semesters and tutored biology, chemistry and English in the Academic Success Center for four semesters. He also helped at the technology showcase, an annual conference where Middlesex faculty, staff and students share ideas and tools through presentations and demonstrations.

“I formed meaningful connections with my professors and excelled in the small class environment. I also enjoyed my experiences in the Honors Program, especially the mentorship I received from professors Eva Jones and Andrea Levy,” Howell said while noting how Middlesex lives up to its mission of putting students first. “I appreciated the close connections I formed with students in each experience.”

Howell onlineThe MxCC Honors Program also allowed him to take two philosophy courses at Wesleyan University last year.

“It is important for MxCC to encourage students like Jack to apply to specialized programs, such as SHPEP, so that they can build stronger networks and get specialized training, and so that our students can come back and make a positive impact on those around them,” said Jones, an English professor at Middlesex.

Levy, a psychology professor, added, “Jack is a model member of the MxCC community. He volunteers in many capacities on campus and more importantly, has such a good heart.”

“When I started at MxCC, I was not planning on entering science or healthcare, but [former] biology professor Cheryl Eckert’s ability to connect scientific processes with human health inspired my passion for it,” said Howell. Eckert wrote his letter of recommendation for the internship. Chemistry professor Kimberly Thomas encouraged him to apply.

Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, SHPEP’s goal is to strengthen the academic proficiency and career development of students who are underrepresented in the health sciences field and to prepare them for a successful application and matriculation to health professions schools. For more information, visit

For more information about registering at Middlesex Community College, please visit Fall classes begin August 26.

Since 1966, Middlesex Community College has provided high-quality, affordable, and accessible education to a diverse population, enhancing the strengths of individuals through degree, certificate, and lifelong learning programs that lead to university transfer, employment, and an enriched awareness of our shared responsibilities as global citizens. A part of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, MxCC offers more than 70 degree or certificate programs at the main 35-acre campus in Middletown, MxCC@Platt in Meriden, and online.