DegreeGlobal Health and Public Policy ’23
Within our broken healthcare system, low-income communities and people of color face many challenges in finding quality primary care, affording medical services and accessing health information. As a member of the related Bass Connections teams Community-based Testing and Primary Care to Mitigate COVID-19 Transmission (2020-2021) and Bridging the Health Equity Gap for COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake in Durham (2021-2022), I focused on investigating health disparities in Durham as well as the role of community engagement and mobile units in making healthcare more accessible.
Along with my colleagues, I worked with community-based organizations in Durham, such as LATIN-19 and El Centro Hispano, to understand why, despite making up only 13.7% of the Durham population, members of the Latinx community made up nearly half of all positive COVID-19 cases at the beginning of the pandemic. Many were uninsured, undocumented, lacking multilingual health resources and distrustful of Duke's healthcare system. After helping to set up testing and vaccination sites and publishing calls to action for providers to remove identification requirements and expand access to multilingual health resources, I felt proud to be able to see the tangible impact our team had on Durham’s health disparities.
Through this role, I fostered a passion for health equity that has given me a clear direction for the career I want to pursue. I want to devote my career to helping break down barriers Americans face to equitable health outcomes. I am specifically interested in working with the scientific community and government actors to advocate for vulnerable populations impacted by infectious diseases and environmental hazards. I see myself pursuing a Master of Public Health degree with a concentration in health policy and ultimately returning to Durham to work in a Health Policy and Data Analyst-type role.
In addition to inspiring these goals, my Bass Connections projects improved the strength and versatility of my writing, research and team-building skills. In my role, I produced a desk review, a white paper, a literature review, a series of infographics, a policy memo, a research paper and an academic poster. I also acquired valuable research skills such as data assessment and qualitative coding, figure building, producing and presenting reports, organizing focus groups and more. I especially loved working in a team environment and collaborating with undergraduate and graduate students, Duke Health physicians, Margolis Center for Health Policy faculty and members of the Durham community.
Bass Connections taught me valuable skills that I will undoubtedly employ in a health policy career. The program also instilled in me an appreciation for collaboration and community engagement. I hope every student gets the opportunity to be a part of a Bass Connections project. This experience has made me a more adept and empathetic researcher and teammate and inspired me to approach challenges with curiosity and excitement.