The Minority Health Initiative Council, a student-led group in the School of Nursing and Health Studies dedicated to minority students pursuing studies in health and minority health issues, celebrated its fifth anniversary last week.

In celebration of the anniversary, the council will be hosting a lecture series titled “Leaders in Health Disparities,” featuring leaders who work to solve minority health issues and eliminate inequalities. The series began in mid-January and will conclude in April, which is Minority Health Month.
The speakers, who were chosen by the council, will include Amerihealth D.C. Market President Karen Dale, Georgetown University National Center for Cultural Competence Director Tamara Goode, AmeriCorps Vista Director Paul Monteiro and Center of Excellence Programs National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities Program Director Derrick Tabor.

NHS Assistant Dean and MHIC Advisor Brian Floyd said that the speaker series will address issues related to health disparities in various fields.

“The goal of the speaker series is to provide our students in our various majors with the opportunity to gain fundamental knowledge of the social, political, educational, economic and biologic determinants of health disparities across numerous populations and then provide them with key tools for what they as future leaders working in various health fields can do to address some of these important issues,” Floyd said.

The MHIC has provided resources and support for an increasing number of minority health students since it was founded in 2010.

“MHIC has grown so much in the past five years,” MHIC Co-Chair Aspen McCoy (NHS ’15) said. “After all, MHIC started off as just a gathering of male NHS students of minority backgrounds simply discussing some of their issues with inequities in the health field and in Washington, D.C. [Today,] the MHIC provides a platform for NHS students of minority backgrounds to not only discuss these issues amongst themselves but to discuss these issues with the NHS community and greater D.C. Metropolitan area in general.”

In addition to serving current and prospective minority students in the NHS, the MHIC also partners with other organizations on campus and in D.C. to discuss and publicize issues related to minority health.
“During the academic year, they have also partnered with local campus and community organizations to design and implement initiatives raising awareness and funds for key issues that disproportionately affect minority communities,” Floyd said.

In 2013, the MHIC started “Mission Nutrition: Good Nutrition is Our Mission,” a program that educates adolescents about healthier lifestyles by providing nutrition courses in local public schools.
MHIC member Beemnet Neway (NHS ’16) said that participating in Mission Nutrition was one of the council’s highlights from the past few years.

“Last year I was part of the pilot program which was an after-school program which was designed to teach some of the public school students about nutrition, so I think that its mission is preaching to the community to have discussions on health disparity issues within the minority health community and really helping us to become more aware,” Neway said.

MHIC Co-Chair Khadijah Davis (NHS ’15) said that she was proud of the concepts that MHIC’s initiatives have helped to promote.

“I am proud of the work the council has done and will continue to do to put concepts like equity, pluralism, diversity and cultural competency on the radar of our peers pursuing careers in healthcare,” Davis said.

In light of its fifth anniversary, the MHIC leadership is planning to further expand their initiatives in both the university and the D.C. area.

“In the future, it is my hope that the MHIC will develop a mentorship program for NHS underclassmen, particularly those from disadvantaged or minority backgrounds,” McCoy said. “From my personal experiences and those of some of my classmates who fit this description, it has been expressed that adjusting to the NHS curriculum was not one of their easiest feats to deal with. Therefore, a mentorship of this nature will provide not only guidance but also even tutoring to minority students from minority students.”

Neway said that she would like to see MHIC include students outside of the NHS who are interested in health disparity issues.

“I hope that [we] can get some non-NHS students [to] take part in the council,” Neway said. “It would be cool to see it expand to other parts of Georgetown, whether it’s Georgetown College, [the School of Foreign Service] or [the McDonough School of Business], health disparity is an issue that requires all types of backgrounds and not just health ones directly. I think that it would be really cool to see that collaboration come onto the council.”

Floyd agreed that the experiential learning MHIC provides would benefit all students who are interested in health disparity.

“Research has shown that millennial learners, in particular, report a need to understand how learning will link to their real lives,” Floyd said. “So with such important issues as health disparities and health equity, I cannot think of a better way than this for students to apply what they are learning in the classroom [into] making a difference in someone else’s life.”

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*