Shannan Young (J.D. ’23) takes advantage of the opportunities available through the Center for Law, Health & Society.
“Almost every decision that I have made about my career has been influenced by my desire to make life better for someone else,” said Shannan Young (J.D. ’23), who admits that her life is completely different from what she envisioned as a child and a young adult.
Initially, Young wanted to become a dentist, but ultimately she still decided to pursue a career focused on helping people.
She is an independent pharmacist consultant, the owner and CEO of Varxiant Consulting LLC, and a third-year law student at Georgia State University College of Law.
“My decision to pursue law was born out of grief believe it or not. I lost my grandfather first, then I lost my grandmother and simultaneously my mom has been battling cancer,” Young explained. And after feeling like the healthcare system failed her loved ones, and praying about her grief, she said all signs seemed to point to law.
“Once that decision was made, Georgia State Law was the obvious choice because of their health law program,” Young said. She transferred to Georgia State Law from John Marshall Law School in August 2021.
The College of Law’s health law program, which is under the Center for Law, Health & Society is ranked top in the nation. It was established in 2004 and it is dedicated to addressing health law challenges through high quality educational programming, research, and community engagement. This concept aligns perfectly with Young’s interests and goal, and she has taken full advantage.
“Since arriving at Georgia State Law, Shannan has seized every opportunity our health law program has to offer, earning a health law certificate, participating in the HeLP clinic, externship, and more,” said Stacie Kershner, deputy director of the Center for Law, Health & Society.
“But the secret is how much our students contribute to the program, and Shannan is no exception. She brings real-world experience and the understanding of how law impacts health equity to everything she is involved in, and other students benefit from that as well,” Kershner added.
In less than three years, the scholar has garnered a litany of achievements, including completing an externship with the Center for Disease Control and an internship with Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (GA DBHDD). Young received the “Best Brief” award in Lawyering Advocacy, and she is a recipient of the CALI award for Contracts I and II and Legal Writing II. This year she will serve as the Southern Regional Chair for the National Black Law Students Association as well as the Publication Editor for the Southern Journal of Policy and Justice. She plans to use her platform while serving in these roles to highlight health inequity as a social justice issue that can be addressed through the pursuit of just about any area of law because all policy is health policy.
Young also participated in the Community Health Leadership Program with the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine.
“Shannan Young was selected to join the inaugural cohort that focused on advancing environmental health and climate justice to advance health equity for marginalized communities,” said Jareese K. Stroud, project director for the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at MSM. She explained that “this was the first national cohort, and [Young] was selected because of her dedication and passion to improve the health and well-being for all citizens.”
The program aims to mold community health leaders who are “educated, motivated, and mobilized to lead community groups in changing health behavior, improving environmental health, and influencing policies to support community health.”
Young said the program was amazing, and she learned a lot about environmental justice and health equity. After the program was complete, she was hired as a consultant over the summer to conduct research about maternal mortality and racism.
Young tries hard to make a difference and she understands that the challenges in healthcare will take more than a quick fix.
“Health equity has never been a race, it’s been a journey, a marathon even – that probably still won’t change during my lifetime, but someone has to be willing to fight for the incremental that we have seen.”
She believes “one day all lives will actually matter in this country but until then there will always be a place for me, doing this kind of work.”