ATLANTA – Three Georgia State doctoral students were recently selected to participate in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s prestigious Health Policy Research Scholars program (HPRS).
The Health Policy Research Scholars program is a four-year national leadership development program housed in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health that supports second-year doctoral students from historically marginalized backgrounds and populations. The students are typically underrepresented in specific doctoral disciplines and interested in applying their research to advance health and equity in our society.
As part of the HPRS program, Keiwana Glover, Khadijah Ameen and Tyler McCoy Gay will participate in policy and leadership development trainings and receive additional training in health policy translation, dissemination, communication, health equity, and population health.
While their research focuses and career goals are quite different, each of Georgia State’s students have been inspired by the impact of a global pandemic on different populations and hope to use the knowledge and resources provided by the HPRS program to affect policy that will reduce systemic inequalities.
From a very early age, Keiwana Glover knew she wanted to be a scientist. She was inspired by support from her grandparents, who went out of their way to encourage her to follow her dreams.
Glover, who is earning her doctorate in translational biomedical sciences, is currently studying the effects of diabetes on underserved populations.
“Most people who die from diabetes don’t die because of the disease itself but because of complications caused by the disease and the lack of access to affordable medication and quality healthcare,” Glover said. “My ultimate goal is to create a research company that works to find cures for diseases that disproportionately affect communities with fewer resources.”
“Representation is so important, and as a Black woman in a male-dominated field, I was so inspired when I saw the past HPRS recipients because so many of them looked like me,” Glover said. “My hope is that in the future people will see my story and feel the same way I did. I want them to know that they are capable of achieving great things if they want to.”
“Being named a Health Policy Research Scholar is extraordinarily humbling,” said Tyler McCoy Gay, who is earning his Ph.D. in sociology. “I’m a first-generation college student from Alabama, and it felt like a long shot when I applied because my research has historically focused on race and gender.”
Seeing the consequences the pandemic had on his family and the Black community inspired Gay to turn his focus to researching the health disparities and health outcomes for underserved communities who don’t have equal access to healthcare and social services.
“As a sociologist, I understand that to combat inequality, we need to address some of the more detrimental aspects within our society such as transportation, access to health care and access to healthy food,” Gay said.
“We need to transform the policies and structures that have led Black southerners to have some of the worst health outcomes in the country,” said Khadijah Ameen, who is earning her doctorate in public health. “My research interests surround the effects of structural racism on Black health–specifically for Black people in the South.”
Before joining the School of Public Health at Georgia State, Ameen worked with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That exposure to population health policy further cemented her desire to help influence policy that impacts the health of marginalized groups.
“Working on policy at the federal level made me more interested in how policy can both harm and promote health and wellbeing,” said Ameen, who also serves as a University Fellow in conjunction with Georgia State’s Second Century Initiative program. “I’m looking forward to connecting with the other fellows and getting the career support that will help me begin to narrow my career goals for the future.”
For more information about the newest HPRS cohort, visit the website.