The Stanford Advancing Health Equity and Diversity (AHEaD) summer research program provides training and experience in population health research for college students who are from underrepresented and historically excluded groups in the health sciences.
In 2022, AHEaD welcomed 9 scholars to participate in population health course modules, professional development training, and mentored research experience with Stanford faculty and graduate student near-peer mentors. Scholars took courses in population and public health, research study design, statistics, statistical programming, and community engagement. Professional development sessions provided opportunities for networking, learning about graduate school admissions, and training in dissemination of research. Each scholar worked with a faculty mentor to design and carry out a research project, culminating in an abstract and research presentation.
I’m junior at California State University, East Bay majoring in Public Health and minoring in Computer Science. I saw firsthand how racism within the education system affects minority students’ mental health, and I plan to influence health policy to further advocate for BIPOC students. Mental health is what I believe to be the foundation of a student’s success. The AHEaD program gave me a glimpse into what it might take to get the research needed to help support BIPOC students in the future.
Under the mentorship of David Rehkopf (Associate Professor of Epidemiology & Population Health and AHEaD co-founding director), I began working on a meta-analysis comparing depression rates of BIPOC students within American Colleges. I found the literature review course from Michelle Odden (Associate Professor of Epidemiology & Population Health and AHEaD co-founding director) to be very helpful in finding papers to add to my meta-analysis.
One of my favorite components of the program was the Coffee Chats. Lesley Park (Senior Research Scientist and AHEaD co-founding director) facilitated networking zoom calls between the cohort and many professionals within the public health sphere ranging from epidemiology to statisticians. One of my favorite Coffee Chats was Mary Keefe (Director of Admissions of Yale School of Public Health) because of her unique insight about MPH admissions. It was super exciting to learn about the curriculum Yale’s MPH program offers and the exciting careers and fields their students go on to explore.
I also walked away with lifelong connections within AHEaD and my cohort. Because of the relatively small cohort size, it was really easy to connect with my peers. It was impactful to form friendships with people who are equally passionate about their communities and overall the betterment of people’s health.
With the meta-analysis work I began with AHEaD, I recognized that mental health within minority students in the educational system was a growing concern. This inspired me to look into health policy work and how policies can advocate for and protect minority students. With that goal in mind, I received the Obama-Chesky Scholarship of Public Service, and I’ll be continuing my research and working in Health Policy over the summer of 2023.
AHEaD is sponsored by the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, the Center for Population Health Sciences, the Office of Community Engagement, Stanford Health Policy, and Burroughs Wellcome Fund.