Vaibhav Penukonda

“Apart from joining a community of future service providers geared towards community health, I am most looking forwards to seeing how I can best help further the mission of my clinic.”

Educational Background: B.A. in Architectural History

Host Site: Health & Benefits Advocate at Family Practice & Counseling Network - Abbottsford-Falls

Why did you join National Health Corps?
After a friend recommended Americorps to me, I found that National Health Corps could help me understand how healthcare access factors into community development. Apart from joining a community of future service providers geared towards community health, I am most looking forwards to seeing how I can best help further the mission of my clinic.

What are your plans after AmeriCorps service?
In a year, I hope to attend medical school.

Tell us about an employment, service, or research experience that was important to you.
In a particularly memorable summer of service, I worked alongside the city of Medellín’s social service workers to deconstruct the harmful stereotype of a dangerous Colombia. Interviewing the families of informal communities, I produced three seven-minute documentaries. My interviewees’ stories of resilience during the paramilitary war and triumphs over drug addiction showcased an alternative, more humane Colombian history. This summer inspired me to not only continue questioning the narratives given to me but also find ways to alter them for the better.

What first sparked your interest in community service?
Community service was central to my semester abroad junior year. In some of the world’s most recognizable cities, I realized that service in your community, no matter how distant you are from it, gives you the fondest look at both the problems and spirit of a place or population.

What about Philadelphia excites you the most?
This summer, I heard that Philadelphia had become the first major city to adopt a controversial tax on sodas in order to boost education spending and better public health. While this piece of policy has drifted through city councils across the nation, a special collection of organizers, community groups, and legislators in Philadelphia helped pass this tax. I am excited to witness how else this city’s initiative takes shape this year.

What is your favorite food?
tiramisu !

Hometown: Fort Myers, FL