Probst, a health communication major and a native of Sigel, Illinois, is putting his enthusiasm into action this summer as a prevention intern with OASIS Florida in Pensacola, Florida.
The mission of OASIS (Okaloosa AIDS Support and Informational Services) Florida is to prevent the spread of HIV and to support those who are affected by HIV/AIDS. The OASIS Florida team is dedicated to providing people the tools necessary to protect themselves or the resources they need to care for themselves.
As a prevention intern, Probst has focused his efforts on creating and distributing educational materials in various formats that help others learn how to prevent contracting diseases or viruses.
“I develop HIV/AIDS prevention education materials, collaborate with businesses to provide community-based outreach, and establish rapport and maintain confidentiality with clients accessing our office for services in house or via our mobile unit,” he said. “I also attend any meetings that they may be having in the office such as the weekly social media meetings.”
He is also learning about the stigmas associated with HIV and ways to reduce them by talking about and educating people about the virus.
“People can live a long and healthy life while having HIV, but many people have misconstrued ideas for how the virus works,” he said. “If a person is compliant with their medication, they can live their whole life with being undetectable. At OASIS, they say ‘U=U’, which means ‘Undetectable = Untransmittable’.”
He says participating in outreach events where he interacts with the public and shares OASIS’ messages and information have been highlights of his internship.
“A favorite moment that I have had so far is educating a client on PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis), a daily medication to prevent HIV infection, and helping them get access to afford the medication,” he said.
Southeast’s health communication program and faculty have become Probst’s mentors and helped prepare him to be successful at OASIS and beyond.
“What has helped me be the most successful in and out of the classroom is the guidance and freedom that my instructors have given me,” he said. “They have always held high standards for any assignment given. They also would always be open to meeting and discussing class material with me and giving me ideas. But in the end, they would expect to have an excellent assignment turned in. In my clinicals and practica, they have taught me a lot about the workforce, which has helped me to learn and be successful.”
When his internship comes to end in late July, Probst will complete his degree requirements for his Bachelor of Science in health communication.
He hopes to launch his career by working for a nonprofit organization that specializes in health issues such as STDs, heart health, diabetes or Alzheimer’s. He also plans to earn a master’s degree in public health, Probst said.