Research Assistant, Endowed Fellowship for Global Health Excellence, Equity and Impact

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I received my Bachelor of Science in Global Health and Sociology from the University of Miami which propelled my research involvement and furthered my interest in community health, race, and social medicine in the US.  I was very intentional with my research, as a Black woman because I sought out projects to help my community.  

During my undergraduate studies which overlapped with the pandemic, I helped support Black families in the Miami area by locating free and reduced-priced COVID-19 related resources. These resources included food, childcare, counseling, legal services, and housing services. This project was impactful because it mapped the resources on a comprehensive, directory-like online platform made for the community. This research role further inspired my interest in community-based work where I aided Dr. Imelda Moise in the Geography and Inequity Lab at my university. I completed qualitative research with the Lab that worked with Haitian and Cuban community partners of Miami-Dade to support early learning outcomes by learning about their definitions of positive assets and contributors to resilience. During this time, I also used research to spark conversations regarding racism in the healthcare field where my team was working to publish a manuscript on the perception of cesarian sections among Black women in South Florida. Dr. Shameka Thomas (current Harvard University Fogarty Fellow, Former NIH Scientific Investigator) was the principal investigator of this project and is also an amazing mentor of mine. Before coming to UW, I had an amazing experience at the NIH, specifically the National Human Genome Research Institute. My team’s research concerned Black women in relation to sickle cell disease and genetic testing where one manuscript was recently submitted, and 2 other manuscripts are anticipated.  

My work in research highlights how social structural problems of racism have led to worse outcomes for disadvantaged communities like Black families in Miami, Black community-based organizations, Black women in South Florida, or Black women in sickle cell disease. In the American healthcare system Black women consistently have worse health outcomes, however on a global scale they are privileged because of the resources that America has to offer. As a Black woman myself, the acknowledgement of my privileges drives my global health work as I pursue a career to help disadvantaged women in LMICs, dismantling larger social structural problems concerning colonialism and poverty.  

Why did you decide to attend the UW for graduate school? 

When I was growing up, my father always said that “education is foundational; no one can take that away from you”. My father is one of my biggest motivations because he worked hard for his associate degree while raising my brother and I, where his motivation was to surpass my grandfather’s middle school education. I am very fortunate and grateful to pursue a higher education at the University of Washington!  

When applying, I looked forward to UW’s commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and community service. I was also excited for the opportunity to tailor my studies to my interest in maternal health. In addition to my current research within Global WACh, I can earn a certificate that caters to my direct interest of women and children. Lastly, I am happy to say the MPH in Global Health is the most diverse cohort of the MPH Core in terms of geographic origins and race. I am looking forward to connecting with my cohort, learning about their lived experiences, and I cherish the mentorship I am receiving from my CHV-NEO research team and the Global WACh team.  

What are your research interests? 

My research interests surround qualitative methods, community-based work, social determinants of health, and health systems strengthening. I am most drawn to topics of maternal child health and poverty. More specifically, my goal is to lead and create systemic racial changes in the healthcare field, particularly for Black women by working with NGOs to produce interventions where community-based, benchmark research on maternal health is essential in forming effective solutions.  

Did your award influence your decision to attend UW? 

I am a recipient of the Department of Global Health Excellence Award and the APHA Kaiser Permanente Community Health Scholarship. These awards heavily influenced my decision to attend UW because it allows me to pursue research immediately starting my program and I am forever grateful for Dr. Keshet Ronen and her team for the opportunity to improve my research skills. Additionally, being APHA KP Community Health Scholar grants me the ability to further my interest in community-based work while the scholarship also pays homage to the community that I grew up in and the story of my family’s path towards higher education.