What skills do a journalist and a doctor have in common? More than one might think, according to former Coronado Times (then known as eCoronado.com) intern, Marie Balfour.
Balfour, CHS Class of 2014, recently graduated from Berkeley with a Bachelor of Science in Integrative Biology, but says her first professional and academic interests were in journalism. As a high school sophomore, Marie joined the Coronado Times as an initial step in pursuit of her dream to become an investigative journalist:
“I saw a position opening at eCoronado in 2012 when I was 16. Nowadays, I know that internships are common, but at the time – I was the only one of my friends doing it.”
Marie credits her time as a staff intern for giving her confidence and affirming her commitment to writing as a career path. It also honed her skills of asking the right questions and “seeking to find the truth” in any given set of circumstances.
But like all good stories, Marie’s career trajectory would take an unexpected twist. The summer following her sophomore year at Berkeley turned out to be pivotal in her journey:
“Every summer I would come back home to Coronado and do an internship in San Diego. My second summer I became a program intern at the San Diego Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program (SDGWEP). That’s where my career interests shifted to medicine.”
SDGWEP, a grant-funded program for medical professionals, immersed Marie in a world of medicine and service within a marginalized and often underserved population. Through her internship, she became aligned with the annual Stand Down San Diego initiative; a three-day, two-night intervention program supporting more than 800 homeless veterans and their families.
“Being connected with the homeless and veteran population, I saw the profound impact medical care had. It really made an impression on me.”
When Marie returned to Berkeley that fall, she combined her background in journalism with her newfound interest in medicine. In so doing, she discovered that she was empowered with an in-demand skillset:
“Usually, people with a science background aren’t associated with writing expertise or interest in writing. But if you can take all of that scientific and medical knowledge and convey it as information to help people – well that’s what it’s all about.”
That same semester, Marie began writing for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where she would publish dozens of medically relevant stories and news items over the near two years she worked there. In May of 2017, she co-authored an introductory chapter for the book: Homeless Older Populations: A Practical Guide for Interdisciplinary Care. In June of this year, in response to the rising popularity of personalized DNA/genealogy testing by companies like 23 and Me and Ancestry.com, Balfour published her research findings in the Berkeley Scientific Journal, detailing the emerging industry in personalized testing and its successive impact on the medical field.
Most recently, Marie attended the UsAgainstAlzheimer’s 2018 National Alzheimer’s Summit in Washington, D.C. as an ambassador for the Youth Movement Against Alzheimer’s.
These days, Marie is in the process of applying for medical school. She plans to be a hands-on practitioner as well as maintaining her love and aptitude for writing:
“I want to see patients and actively help people, but I will always be involved in the collaborative writing/research process too.”
For more information on internships at The Coronado Times, contact us.