Spotlight on Students: Sabrina Wu ’20’s Internship Melds Healthcare and Human Rights

A young Hawaiian woman in a yellow t-shirt and plaid coveralls holding up informational cards about birth control.

For Sabrina Wu ’20, reproductive healthcare is about more than just medicine—it’s a chance “to support each woman’s journey.” During her summer internship as a clinical research intern at Kapi’olani Medical Center in Honolulu, she is gaining invaluable career experience as well as helping to support the reproductive needs of people from all ages and stages of life.

Working under the direction of principal investigator Bliss Kaneshiro PO ’97, an OB/GYN and researcher who also serves as the medical director of family planning for the Hawai’i State Department of Health, Wu, a human biology major, is helping to launch a new study designed to provide information about pregnancies. Her duties have included gaining IRB approval for the study, preparing the study protocol, reviewing the study manual, and recruiting patients for an ongoing clinical trial about emergency contraceptives (she designed a social media campaign that pops up on dating apps). Wu has also transcribed interviews conducted with transgender people to find out what they want from their healthcare experience and how their reproductive journeys can be supported. On the education front, Wu helps organize sex-education kits for local high schools and, once a week, works in a teen clinic collecting data on the sources of sex education that local teenagers receive.

“Some of the data and stories I hear are very specific to Hawaii, but in my experience, it’s all applicable to health care as a general field.”

With plans to enter nursing school immediately after graduation, Wu’s long-term goal is to become a women’s health nurse practitioner and to serve underrepresented communities such as the LGBTQ community and the Southeast Asian community—both of which represent central aspects of Wu’s identity. She credits her Scripps education with helping her develop the ethos and critical thinking that she will apply to her career.

“With the understanding of intersectionality and my positionality in a patriarchal society that I strengthened during my time at Scripps, and with time spent with my truly amazing and empowering classmates, I am able to take this knowledge towards my future career,” she says. Indeed, for Wu, healthcare isn’t just medical care, but a charge to keep politics from dictating the personal and fundamental freedoms of women. “As someone who wants to work in women’s reproductive healthcare, I see myself as more than just a medical practitioner, but as a protector of human rights.”