Chitra Iyer

 "I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to explore the Jacksonville area, form new friendships, and creatively collaborate with likeminded individuals to positively impact the community."


Hometown: Aurora, IL

Educational background: Bachelor of Science with Distinction from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, double majoring in Molecular/Cellular Biology and Behavioral Neuroscience

Host Site: JASMYN (Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network)

What is your title and role at your host site?
I will be serving as Youth Care Navigator at JASMYN, addressing the healthcare disparities faced by LGBTQ youth, ages 13-26, and improving their mental, physical and social wellbeing. Assisting staff within JASMYN’s Sexual Health Clinic, Mental Health Services, Health Education and CyberCenter, I will perform a variety of roles including: HIV/STD testing, expanding screening and assessments for substance use and mental health conditions, coordinating resources and follow-up treatment, conducting health education through workshops, small group presentations and one-on-one conversations, assisting and empowering youth in applications for social services, insurance and employment, etc.

Why did you join the National Health Corps Florida AmeriCorps program?
As a lifelong Chicagoan, I was interested in exploring the South and the vibrant city of Jacksonville, and learning more about its specific urban public health challenges. During my gap year, I also hoped to gain personal and professional experience in the nonprofit model of community development and healthcare, to learn more about public health, to form connections with both coworkers as well as community members, and to augment and advance personal and professional skills, such as teaching, cultural competency, and teamwork. Finally, I have a deep passion for community service and volunteering, and using my abilities to better the lives of the people around me- the NHC model of learning through direct service really appealed to me!

What are you hoping to gain from your year of service?
Through my year of service, I am excited to gain perspective into what my future career will entail, pursuing my passion for community service while exploring my strengths and learning more about healthcare disparities, diversity and public health interventions. I would also like to gain skills and real-life experience in compassionate, culturally competent delivery of care, patient advocacy and education; Specifically, I’m eager to learn about the LGBTQ youth that I’ll be working with- their backgrounds, healthcare determinants and targeted intervention techniques at the individual and community levels. Last but not least, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to explore the Jacksonville area, form new friendships, and creatively collaborate with likeminded individuals to positively impact the community. 

What are your plans after AmeriCorps service?
Continuing my education and matriculating into graduate school, either in medicine or clinical psychology.

Where do you envision yourself in 5 years?
Not quite sure, to be honest! I hope to work in a clinical capacity within the healthcare sector, focusing on underserved, vulnerable populations including the LGBTQ community, particularly youth. My goal is to work towards addressing critical healthcare disparities, such as access to primary care services and prophylaxis, and integrate mental and physical health in holistically addressing the multiple facets of each patients’ wellness.