September 6, 2023

HDR UK Black Internship Programme: DARE UK Intern Abigail Ngwang shares her experience working with the DARE UK team

Courtesy of the HDR UK Black Internship Programme, DARE UK had the pleasure of welcoming Abigail Ngwang, a medical student at the University of Leeds, to the programme delivery team for a period of 8 weeks. During her internship with the programme, Abigail supported the development of a public-friendly information kit on the DARE UK Federated Architecture Blueprint.

Hi, I’m Abi, and I have just completed an eight-week internship at DARE UK this summer as part of the black internship programme. Just a little bit of background about me: I am a fourth-year medical student doing a Master’s in Public Health. My love of these two subjects and the understanding that research plays a significant role in reducing health inequalities, shapes what happens in hospitals, and can drastically improve lives led me to apply for the internship.

As a medical student, I often have the privilege of talking to people from diverse backgrounds. These conversations have opened my eyes to the intricate nature of health. As the coronavirus pandemic demonstrated, health is not isolated; it is connected to many areas of our lives, like where we live, our jobs, our ethnicity, and much more. I was so excited when I found out that I would be interning at DARE UK because their programme revolves around streamlining the processes behind research that explores the patterns between these variables.

With this in mind, I am very eager to see the evolution of DARE UK. In the UK, we have a growing need for a more efficient cross-domain sensitive data research process. As technology develops, we will have more complex data, more of it, and more potential to address the issues that matter to us most. Whether it be sensitive data from smartwatches and devices or medical imaging, one thing is certain: There must be a secure, trusted system in place that can keep up with the ever-changing data composition of the UK. After my eight-week internship, I believe that DARE UK has designed that system.

During my internship, my tasks were fairly different from anything I’ve done before, but I am incredibly grateful for that. My main task was to help design a set of public-friendly resources that would tell the story of what happens inside the DARE UK architecture to the public. This included an animation, a poster, and a booklet. Before interviewing for the internship, I remember reading the federated architecture blueprint (a 60-page document explaining the intricacies of the programme). To say the least, I felt pretty overwhelmed at first glance, but over the past eight weeks through the process of making the resources and being made comfortable to ask the DARE UK team all of my “silly questions”, I have come to understand this document and the impact that DARE UK could have on countless lives across the UK.

In addition to creating the content for the resources, I also held a workshop that sought to gain public opinion on the resources. The workshop was the highlight of my internship, as it was the opportunity I learned the most from. What I admired most about DARE was that public engagement wasn’t a tick-box exercise but a fundamental part of all their work.

I now leave the internship having honed some of my existing skills, acquired some new skills, and with a hope that my work will better public understanding of DARE UK. The opportunities given, the lessons learned, and the support shared were unparalleled. I want to thank the wonderful DARE UK team, the HDR UK Black Internship Programme, and 10,000 Black Interns for making all of this possible!

Abigail Ngwang joined the DARE UK programme team as an Intern as part of the 2023 HDR UK Black Internship Programme. The Black Internship Programme is an exciting endeavour for early career Black data scientists run by Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) and the UK Health Data Research Alliance (the ‘Alliance’) in partnership with the 10,000 Black Interns initiative.