Health Policy Scholars Program
The Health Policy Scholars Program offers MMC students in the School of Medicine, School of Dentistry, and School of Graduate Studies & Research, who have educational and research interests in health policy and social science research, the opportunity to participate in coursework, seminars and research activities leading to the completion of a Certificate in Health Policy to be awarded in conjunction with the student's declared academic program degree. Students must maintain a 3.00 GPA in their current academic program.
This program offers Meharry students from various disciplines the opportunity to expand their knowledge of health policy as it relates to health care planning, health care resource allocation, health maintenance, health promotion, health programs and interventions, and strategies specific to minority and underserved communities. Students learn from faculty of multiple specialties from both Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University. The program's curriculum spans two years of training and includes a supplemental paid externship experience at a national organization.
meet the scholars
FALL 2013 COHORT
Scottie A. Bussell, MD
Preventive Medicine Resident (PGY-2)
Scott Bussell is a second year General Preventive Medicine and Public Health resident at Meharry Medical College. Before medical school, Dr. Bussell was a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya, where his interest in global health first began. He worked with schools and churches to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS. Dr. Bussell returned to Africa in 2005 as a volunteer for an AIDS home-based care organization in Zambia. Following his passion for global health, he completed his medical degree at the Medical School for International Health, a collaborative program between Columbia Medical Center in New York and Ben-Gurion University in Beer Sheba. In Israel, he worked with underserved Bedouin, Ethiopian, Russian, and Orthodox Jewish communities. Realizing that global health interventions need to be evidence-based, he pursued a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, focusing his studies and research on population-based health care issues common to developing countries. He, along with a team of researchers, published,"Male involvement for the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission: A brief review of initiatives in East, West, and Central Africa" in the June 2014 issue of Current HIV/AIDS Reports. After completing his residency training, he plans to return to Africa and work for a non-governmental organization.
Rachel M. Cooper, MSPH
School of Medicine
Rachel Cooper is a Los Angeles native and a second-year medical student in the School of Medicine. She is a UCLA graduate, where she received a BA in world arts and cultures. Already a Meharrian, Cooper graduated from the School of Graduate Studies and Research at Meharry, where she earned a Master of Science in Public Health. Rachel serves on the executive board for 12South Community Clinic, Meharry's student-run clinic, and as the president-elect for the Internal Medicine Interest Group. During the summer of 2014, Rachel completed a summer externship with the George Washington University's School of Public Health and the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health working on a community health centers and family planning research project.
Christian O. Davillier, MPH
School of Dentistry
Kelly Harris, MS
School of Graduate Studies and Research
Kelly Harris is a doctoral candidate in the biomedical sciences program in the School of Graduate Studies and Research. A Memphis, Tennessee native, Harris is the recipient of the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F31). She earned a B.S. in biology from the University of Tennessee at Martin and received a Master of Science with a concentration in molecular biology from Middle Tennessee State University. As a student in the biochemistry and cancer biology department at Meharry, her work focuses on the underlying mechanisms in the initiation and progression of colorectal cancer. Her research project, “Interplay of Western diet and benzo(a)pyrene exposure on colon carcinogenesis in a PIRC rat model,” focuses on the effects of high fat diet intake on benzo(a)pyrene induces colorectal cancer.
Peyton K. Harris
School of Dentistry
Cheryl C. Onwu
School of Graduate Studies and Research
Cheryl Onwu is currently a second-year Master of Science in Public Health student at Meharry Medical College. The Murfreesboro, Tennessee native pursued her undergraduate studies at Western Kentucky University (WKU) peerwhere she earned a degree in biology and chemistry. She, graduated magna cum laude from the Honors College at WKU and published her thesis titled, “The Lyme Disease Spirochete in Tick Species Collected from Warren County, Kentucky.” Prior to beginning the Health Policy Scholars Program, Onwu’s interests involved utilizing policy in order to one day operate a free clinic that serves underrepresented communities. After completing her first year in the program, her keenness on working to alleviate health disparities magnified. Onwu’s research interests involve health outcomes in minorities, which is evidenced in an article she penned for National Minority Health Month on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. In the summer of 2014, Onwu completed an externship at Johns Hopkins University with Dr. Thomas LaVeist on a study regarding health disparities. Onwu is a member of the American Public Health Association (APHA) and Tennessee Public Health Association (TPHA). She is also an eager volunteer, having served as a community service coordinator for an international honors society, Alpha Epsilon Delta, and received an award for Philanthropic Member of the Year in 2011.
Samuel T. Pellom
School of Graduate Studies and Research
School of Medicine
Minoo Sarkarati is a third year medical student pursuing a Doctor of Medicine in Meharry’s School of Medicine. She completed her undergraduate work in psychology and integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley. Before attending Meharry, Minoo worked at Lyon-Martin Health Services as a Comprehensive Patient Support Associate and volunteered for San Francisco Women Against Rape as a medical advocate and crisis intervention counselor. She has led LGBTI curriculum inclusion and reform at Meharry Medical College and co-founded Meharry’s first gay-straight alliance, OUT!Health. Her academic interests include health disparities, primary care, and social justice.
Ciera J. Scales
School of Dentistry
Ciera Scales is a third-year dental student from Atlanta, Georgia, that plans to specialize in orthodontics. Based on her academic merit and community involvement, Scales was recently selected by the White House, as a member of the inaugural class of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities All-Star Student Ambassadors, in which 75 students nationwide were selected for this honor. Scales is a widely recognized researcher, for her research entitled "The Effect of MSX1 and MSX2 Concentrations in the Orthodontic Treatment of Type 2 Diabetic Patients: A Systematic Review", which was presented at Meharry's Student Research Day (1st Place), the Hinman Student Research Symposium, and the American Dental Association Annual Session in 2013. She is also a member of the International Association Student Clinicians of the American Dental Association, which inducts one student, per US and Puerto Rican dental school, each year. Since enrolling at Meharry, Ciera has appeared on the Dean's List repeatedly, and has served as president-elect for the Orthodontic Club, section editor for The Pulse, Meharry's student-run newsletter, secretary for the Meharry Chapter of the American Association of Women Dentists, historian for the Meharry Chapter of the American Dental Education Association, peer tutor, dental mission trip member to serve rural Jamaica, and a founding member of 12 South, a student-run free dental clinic. As she rises into her senior year, and prepares to apply to orthodontic residency, Ciera will serve as president of the Orthodontic Club and continue the development of the student-run free dental clinic.
School of Medicine
FALL 2012 SCHOLARS
Italo Brown, MPH
Italo Brown, a 2012-13 recipient of the Gabriel F. and Harriett B. Lefebvre Endowed Memorial Scholarship, is a fourth-year student in Meharry's School of Medicine, and previously completed a Meharry post-baccalaureate program. As a Health Policy Scholar, Brown has voiced his opinions on various health policy topics via the Human Capital Blog. He’s attend national health policy conferences including the RWJF Health Policy Scholars in Research Annual Meeting and the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting. A Sacramento, California native and Morehouse College graduate (B.S. in biology), he received a master of public health with dual concentrations in epidemiology and social and behavioral sciences from the Boston University School of Public Health where he worked with the Massachusetts Comprehensive Cancer Control Coalition (MCCCC) to launch the first-ever Massachusetts Cancer Survivorship Summit. Current research interests include health policy, innovative health IT and disruptive health care delivery models.
Damien Cuffie, MPH
Third-year dental student and New Orleans native, Damien L. Cuffie, earned a B.S. in biology from Xavier University and a master of public health (MPH) with a concentration in health policy and systems management from Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Sciences Center School of Public Health. While at LSU, Damien worked with the Louisiana Models for Change-System Reform in Juvenile Justice and published a white paper on Evidence Based Practices for Juvenile Justice Reform in Louisiana. He also worked with the LSU Health Services Division and Louisiana Office of Public Health in disease management on projects including the Louisiana Public Health Information Exchange (LaPHIE) and the Medical Informatics and Telemedicine program. He is the 2012-2013 recipient of the Joseph L. Henry NDAF/Colgate-Palmolive Scholarship, the 2012-2013 MLK Essay Scholarship as well as the Dr. Cyril O. Spann Scholarship. He was selected for a 2014 summer externship at the RWJF Center for Health Policy. Career interests include oral health policy, education and promotion, healthcare management, and cultural competency.
Timothy D. Guinn, MSPH
Timothy Guinn is a May 2014 graduate with a Master’s of Science in Public Health and a Certificate in Health Policy. Originally from Chicago, Guinn earned a bachelor's of science degree in kinesiology from Morehouse College. He has presented his scholarly works at the American Public Health Association in 2013. Upon graduation, Timothy completed a summer externship at the NIH Institute on Aging. He currently plans to work in the field of public health for a year before pursuing a doctoral degree.
Eddie Hackler, III
Eddie Hackler, III completed Meharry Medical College's post baccalaureate program and is currently a third-year student in the School of Medicine. Hackler is president-elect of the Pre-Alumni Association for the 2014-2015 school year. Hackler is a native of Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio in 2011.
DeMarquis O. Loyd, DDS
DeMarquis Loyd is a May 2014 graduate of Meharry's School of Dentistry and immediately began his General Practice Residency Program at Louisiana State University Health Science Center in New Orleans, LA. During his time at Meharry, Loyd received the Drs. Herbert and Mildred C. Harris Scholarship (2010, 2011) and a Dr. Joseph L. Henry Scholar through the National Dental Association Foundation Colgate-Palmolive Scholarship (2010, 2011). A native of El Dorado, Arkansas, Loyd earned a master's in biomedical science (M.B.S.) in 2010 from Midwestern University in Downers Grove, Illinois. In 2007, DeMarquis earned a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, where he held honors as a Coca-Cola National Scholar. DeMarquis was vice president of the Meharry chapter of the American Student Dental Association (ASDA). Additionally, he was the 2012-2013 president-elect for the 100 Black Men of Meharry.
Maria C. Mejia de Grubb, MD, MPH
Maria C. Mejia de Grubb, MD, MPH, completed the Health Policy Scholars Program in May 2014. She is a Medellin, Colombia native and fourth-year preventive medicine resident at Meharry, who received a $4,000 nine-month mini-grant from the CDC-sponsored American Psychological Association Socioeconomic Status Related Cancer Disparities Program (SESRCD). Her project, "Training Resident Physicians to Address Cancer-Related Health Disparities," develops an educational module targeting primary care and preventive medicine physicians, introducing them to evidence-based practical strategies in minority-population cancer care, and providing them with basic knowledge in addressing cancer-related health disparities. Dr. Mejia de Grubb's interests also include Hispanic and minority populations, cultural competency, health education, and healthy lifestyle promotion in underserved communities.
Vanessa C. Nwaozo, MD
Vanessa Nwaozo graduated in May 2014 with a Certificate in Health Policy and Doctor of Medicine degree. Her interest in pediatric gastroenterology and endocrinology led her to begin her residency at The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, Texas, the largest health system in the world. Born and raised in Austin, Texas to Nigerian immigrants, Vanessa is the oldest of five children. She has a B.S. in health from the University of Houston and in 2012 launched her own online company, Sisterly Hair, which caters to the beauty and hair industry.
Irwine Sainvil, MS, DDS
Irwine Sainvil graduated in May 2014 with a DDS degree from the School of Dentistry as well as a Certificate in Health Policy. She earned a bachelor's degree in biomedical sciences and a master's degree in medical sciences from the University of South Florida.
Rachel G. Smith, MSPH
Rachel Gosine Smith is a May 2014 graduate of the MSPH Program and Health Policy Scholars Program and recently relocated to the Los Angeles area. A native of Point Fortin, Trinidad in the West Indies, Rachel received a B.S. degree in exceptional student education with ESOL endorsement from Florida International University in 2004. After teaching with North Miami Beach Senior High School for five years, Rachel became the lead teacher for a marine biology program—M.A.R.R.I.N.E (Marine Academy for Research and Recreation in Nautical Environments)—and a marine biology honors teacher for the Biomedical Environmental Advanced Magnet (BEAM) program. Rachel desires to be an advocate for underprivileged citizens.
Nefertari Terrill-Jones, MSPH
Nefertari Terrill-Jones is a Kansas City, Kansas native and a May 2012 magna cum laude graduate of Howard University, where she received a bachelor's of science degree in sports medicine, with a minor in chemistry. While at Howard, Nefertari was a member of the dean's honor roll from 2008 to 2012. She was also a member of Phi Delta Epsilon International Medical Fraternity-D.C. Alpha chapter, Misses at Meridian Outreach Society, and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. Throughout the year, Nefertari works with the Children's Defense Fund, serving as an Ella Baker Trainer for the Ella Baker Child Policy Training Institute during the summer. In May 2014, she completed the Health Policy Scholars Program and graduated from the MSPH program. She will continue her matriculation at Meharry Medical College in the School of Medicine with an expected graduation date of May 2018.
Rebbie S. Timmons
Rebbie Timmons is a May 2013 graduate of the Certificate in Health Policy Program and the Master of Science in Public Health program. She received her undergraduate degree from Winston Salem State University where she majored in exercise science. Timmons has interned with the American College of Healthcare Executives, a health administration association that strives to advance members and healthcare management excellence. In addition to her summer internships, she was a student health ambassador of the HBCU Wellness Project. After completing the MSPH program and the Health Policy Scholars Program, Timmons went on to serve as an administrative intern for St. Francis Hospital in Memphis, TN, which was sponsored by the Agenda 21 program with the Tennessee Hospital Association.
Shanele C. Williams, DDS
Shanele Williams is a May 2014 graduate from Meharry's School of Dentistry and, shortly after, began her general practice residency at Harvard University’s School of Dental Medicine in Boston. She is a native of Jamaica and a first-generation college graduate of the University of Florida, receiving a bachelor's of science degree in integrative biology and a minor in Spanish in 2007. Following graduation, she earned public health certification from UF while a laboratory manager for the UF Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology. Williams developed interest in public health issues through her volunteer experiences, where she gained insight into the need for increased healthcare access and health education efforts. She plans to contribute to dental public health research throughout her career, focusing on providing oral health education and care to the underserved.
Nadia Winston, MSPH
Nadia Winston, a May 2013 graduate of Meharry's Master of Science in Public Health program and Memphis native, earned a B.S. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Rhodes College. As a Health Policy Scholar, Winston completed a summer externship in Baltimore with the National Institutes of Health. Winston was awarded the Albert W. Dent Graduate Student Scholarship ($5,000) from the Foundation of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). The annual scholarship—in honor of the first African-American Fellow of ACHE—is for minorities enrolled in their final year of a healthcare management graduate program. With interests in the epidemiology of infectious and communicable diseases, health program management, and health policy, she hopes to become a nurse practitioner.
FALL 2011 SCHOLARS
Sydne Ford is a medical student at Meharry Medical College who plans to use her medical degree to not only treat patients, but to promote health literacy and education among minority communities. A native of Detroit, Michigan, Sydne is a graduate of the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology. While there, Sydne worked to improve her local and cultural communities by volunteering and participating in research at the University of Michigan Geriatrics Center to help decrease health and health care disparities. Sydne’s academic interests include preventive medicine, childhood obesity, and health education and promotion.
Lamercie Saint Hilaire, MD
Lamercie Saint Hilaire graduated from Meharry Medical College in May 2013 with a Certificate in Health Policy and Doctor of Medicine degree. She is currently completing her residency in family medicine at the University of California-San Francisco, the number one ranked residency program in family medicine. As a Health Policy Scholar, Saint Hilaire aspired to aid in the elimination of health disparities through a combination of patient education, holistic medicine, and health advocacy. A graduate of the University of Central Florida, Lamercie’s passions include preventive medicine, nutrition, public health, and global health.
Ballington Kinlock, PhD
In March 2014, Ballington Kinlock Mr. Kinlock successfully defended his dissertation titled, "Transmission of HIV-1 through Vaginal Epithelial Cells Utilizes the Endocytic Recycling Pathway and is Influenced by the Sex Hormone Progesterone" and earned a PhD in biomedical sciences from Meharry’s School of Graduate Studies and Research in May 2014. Kinlock said he values the center's health policy scholars program as a career step toward focusing not only on biological aspects of health disparities but on effecting policy changes to decrease those differences. From Brooklyn, New York by way of Jamaica, Wisconsin, he graduated with honors from The City University of New York-Medgar Evers College with a B.S. degree in biology. A program funded by the National Institutes of Health allowed him to conduct cancer research in the Nanjing Key Lab of genomics at Nanjing Medical University in China. Immediately following graduation Kinlock completed the Center’s Summer Externship Program at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Disparities Solutions in Baltimore.
Movado Long is a medical student at Meharry Medical College from Chicago, whose research interests include diabetes and high blood pressure. He attended Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi and successfully completed the post baccalaureate program at Meharry Medical College in May 2011.
Letitia Lyons, MD, MS
Calling Newport News, Virginia home, Letitia Lyons graduated from Meharry Medical College’s School of Medicine in May 2014 with a Doctor of Medicine degree and began her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas. Prior to matriculating to Meharry, she received a B.S. degree in biology and an M.S. degree in education with an emphasis in sport management from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.
Brandon Morgan, DDS
Brandon Morgan completed the Health Policy Scholars Program in May 2013 and graduated from Meharry’s School of Dentistry with a DDS degree. While at Meharry, his interests included orthodontics, dental public health, education, and health policy. He is currently completing his residency in orthodontics at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He received his B.S. degree in biology from Emory University and taught physical and environmental science at Mundy’s Mill High School in Jonesboro, Georgia. In addition to obtaining a position in the third cohort of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy, Brandon belongs to the American Dental Association, the Student National Dental Association, and the Ewell Neil Dental Society.
Jake Porter, MD
Jake Porter is a 2012 Meharry School of Medicine graduate with high honors, also receiving a certificate in health policy. He was a Fall 2011 health policy scholar while a fourth year medical student at Meharry. With Decatur, Georgia as his hometown, he received his bachelor of science degree in biology at the University of Georgia in 2005. In 2007, Jake completed the master of public health program at Georgia State University. He has a strong interest in health policy, especially as it relates to orthopedics, his field of residency.
Roxanne Rich, MD
Roxanne Rich is May 2014 graduate of the Health Policy Scholars Program. After receiving her MD from the Meharry School of Medicine, Rich began her residency training in the Pediatrics Residency Program at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, Indiana. While at Meharry, her academic interests included health policy, pediatrics, and neurology, and she was a member of both the American Medical Student Association and the Student National Medical Association. Her interest in health policy, she said, stems from a desire to combat health disparities and provide adequate health care for all. Originally from Powell Butte, Oregon, she graduated summa cum laude from Washington State University in May 2009 with a Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience, emphasis on pre-medicine.
Lakeisha C. Tillery
Lakeisha Tillery is a doctoral candidate in the department of microbiology and immunology at Meharry Medical College. Her ultimate career goal is to become an interdisciplinary scientist for the Food and Drug Administration. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, she graduated from the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore with a B.S. degree in biology after becoming a certified nursing assistant. Following graduation she worked for Agencourt Biosciences as a genomic fellow in the research and development department and at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine as a research assistant in the department of neurobiology. Her research thesis at Meharry focuses on delineating novel signaling pathways within the human endothelium responsible for endothelial dysfunction and vascular inflammation.
Adrian Ware, MSc
Adrian L. Ware is a Health Policy Scholar and student in the Master of Science in Public Health degree program at Meharry Medical College. He is the recipient of the Dr. Frank and Pamela Royal Scholarship and the Dr. Mildred Rowe Scholarship. As a native of St. Louis, Missouri, he holds a BSc in biology and a MSc in biology and alternative medicine from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical (A&M) University. Adrian recently completed a summer externship at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College. He also served as a public health extern at the Metropolitan Public Health Department of Nashville and Davidson County. He has enhanced his graduate student experience by serving as the member-at-large for the Dr. Lloyd C. Elam Mental Health Center Community Advisory Board. Adrian has been published on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Human Capital Blog, in which he wrote a compelling articled entitled, "U.S. Needs Primary Prevention, Especially for the Poor and Underserved" that was later republished by emPower Magazine. Adrian's research interests include: advance directives, health policy, mental health disparities, minority health, and complementary and alternative medicine. Adrian aspires to become a Christian psychiatrist who serves the poor and underserved.
Tulani Washington-Plaskett is a fourth-year medical student at Meharry Medical College. Tulani was introduced to the world of medicine through her mother, an internal medicine physician, and her father, a nurse anesthetist. During her time at Meharry, Tulani has served as the president of the Student National Medical Association and was one of three students who won first place for the Community Service Poster Session at the SNMA national conference for her original research, “Into the Streets: Community Health Outreach in Barbershops and Beauty Shops.” Originally from the Washington, D.C. area, Tulani attended Temple University and received a bachelor’s of science degree in biology. She went on to receive a master’s of science degree in forensic science at Drexel University.
Christopher Watson, MPH
Christopher Watson is a fourth-year medical student at Meharry Medical College from Dothan, Alabama. Christopher holds a B.S. in biopsychology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Master of Public Health from Georgia State University. Christopher has played an active role at Meharry, serving as the president of the Pre-Alumni Association and member-at-large on the Board of Trustees. He plans to use his training in the Health Policy Scholars Program to become a rural health advocate working against the ever-enlarging health gap in the rural south. He hopes to contribute to reducing the health gap that engulfs his own African-American community by gaining the tools and insights needed to develop sound health policies and create a medical practice focused on compassionate and outstanding patient care.
SPRING 2011 SCHOLARS
Danielle Brown was a Spring 2011 health policy scholar and a 2012 honors graduate of Meharry’s master of science in public health program with primary interests in health promotion and education, and health care administration. She also received her certificate in health policy. In May 2010, she received her bachelor of science in biology, chemistry minor, from Howard University in Washington, D.C. Upon graduation from Meharry, Danielle's aspirations included working with an organization with a mission focus of eliminating preventable health problems through education—particularly HIV and STD infections in young adults.
Janie Charleston, MSPH
Janie Charleston was a 2012 graduate of Meharry’s master of science in public health program with a goal of becoming a clinical dietitian with interests in obesity, food safety and sanitation, and health promotion. Janie received a certificate in health policy and was a Spring 2011 health policy scholar. A native of Linden, Alabama, Janie Charleston received her bachelor of science degree with honors in nutrition and hospitality management from Alabama A&M University. Awards there included the Outstanding Senior Award from the Alabama American Dietetic Association, deans list, and the Outstanding Student Award from the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management. She was the secondary author of a poster on a national water program research project in conservation and resource management titled “A Comparison of Total Coli form, E. Coli, and Entercocci in Surface Water Located in Madison County, Alabama.”
Originally from Aiea, Hawaii, Dr. Cheryl Chun received her MD degree in May 2014 from Meharry Medical College. Chun currently is attending a pediatric residency program at Children's National in Washington, DC in their Community Health Track, which focuses on health policy/public health and underserved patients. Her experiences as a teacher in a Washington, D.C. high-needs community influenced her interest in health policy. In May 2006, after receiving her Bachelor of Science degree from George Washington University (computer science with a premedical concentration), Cheryl taught for two years as part of a commitment to Teach for America in Washington, D.C., during which she received a Master of Arts in teaching from American University with a concentration in secondary mathematics. Seeing her students overcome challenges outside of school to be successful in the classroom inspired her in helping similar communities. Deciding to pursue a career in medicine, she earned a master’s of sciences degree in biomedical sciences from Barry University in Miami, Florida. As a health policy scholar, Cheryl served as a RWJF IMAGINE Tomorrow ambassador and published articles on the RWJF Human Capital blog. Cheryl believed the program gave her a deeper understanding of issues facing high-needs communities and help her to better serve them.
Camillia Comeaux MSPH
Camilla Comeaux is a 2012 graduate with high honors of Meharry Medical College’s master of science in public health program, also receiving a certificate in health policy. She was a Spring 2011 health policy scholar. Originally from Kansas City, Missouri, Camilla earned her bachelor of science degree in biology in May 2009 and graduate certificate in public health in May 2010 from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Her interest in health policy stems from recognition of the importance of policy-making in developing a more efficient system of public health practice while focusing on the improvement of the community. With the knowledge and skills gained from the health policy certificate program, she plans to manage a facility that serves communities in any capacity that promotes healthy behaviors, preventive medicine, and disease treatment for impoverished and underserved individuals.
Kyle Gardner, MSPH
Kyle Gardner is a 2012 graduate with high honors of Meharry Medical College’s master of science in public health program, also receiving a certificate in health policy. He was a Spring 2011 health policy scholar. His first experience in the public health field occurred when he worked as an intern at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. One of his aspirations is to become a physician specializing in primary or preventive care for underserved communities, with the career goal to become director of a major city’s public health department. Kyle graduated from Illinois State University with a bachelor of science degree in molecular biology and biochemistry. He then conducted research at Abbott Laboratories, testing the chemical properties and optimal dosage for Erythromycin and Kaletra. Kyle has engaged and volunteered in a variety of organizations in order to interact and understand problems that plague communities. He is interested in finding solutions to health disparities among African Americans.
Ashley Huderson, PhD
Ashley Huderson, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, sucessfully defended her doctoral dissertation on Friday, March 1, 2013 in the Department of Biochemistry and Cancer Biology at Meharry Medical College. Upon completion of a bachelor of science in chemistry from Spelman College, Ashley enrolled in the Ph.D. program at Meharry Medical College in 2006. As a student in the biochemistry and cancer biology department, her work centered on colon cancer. Her research project, “Mechanisms underlying the chemo-prevention of benzo(a)pyrene [BaP]- induced colon carcinogenesis by resveratrol [RVT],” looks at the chemoprevention effects of resveratrol on colon cancer induced by Benzo(a)pyrene. In June 2013, Dr. Huderson began working at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center as a tumor biology post-doctoral fellow in the lab of Dr.Lucile Adams-Campbell. After post-doctoral training, she hopes to conduct cancer-related research at a minority institution in advancing those establishments as well-known research facilities.
Christopher Tran, MD
Christopher Tran is a 2012 medical school graduate with high honors from Meharry Medical College, also receiving a certificate in health policy. He was a Fall 2011 health policy scholar at the center while a third year medical student. Originally from southern California, Tran received his bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Southern California. With a strong history of community service and didactic experience, Tran desires to use his professional position to encourage health care literacy among less-informed populations. His academic areas of interest were otolaryngology, health care policy education, and pedagogy.
Jacqueline Watkins is a 2012 honors graduate of Meharry Medical College’s master of science in public health program whose main research interests are obesity, fitness, nutrition, chronic disease, and health care for the undeserved. She was a Spring 2011 health policy scholar at the center, receiving her health policy certificate. She received her bachelor of science in community health from the University of Illinois. She completed an internship with Dr. Napoleon Knight, vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer at Carle Foundational Hospital where she researched sleep apnea and childhood obesity. Jacqueline's thesis research focused on the development of cervical cancer in women aged 16-24. Watkins is currently a doctoral candidate in public health (DrPH) at Morgan State University in Baltimore.
SPRING 2010 SCHOLARS
Amirah Abdullah is a 2011 high honors graduate of Meharry Medical College's master of science in public health program, also receiving a certificate in health policy. She was a Spring 2010 health policy scholar at the center. A native of Moreno Valley, California, Amirah is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University where she earned a bachelors of science degree in biology with a minor in public health. As an honor student during her time there, she was also an active member in many organizations that supported her goal to become a physician. She has worked as a regional research assistant trainee (RRAT) at the Institute for Faith-Health Leadership (IFHL)/Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) where she worked on the Louisiana Environmental Justice Faith Response Study. She is committed to disease prevention and health promotion, particularly among African-American women and children.
Naa Ayele Amponsah is a 2011 graduate with highest honors from Meharry Medical College’s master of science in public health program, also receiving a certificate in health policy. She was a Spring 2010 health policy scholar at the center. Amponsah is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College where she majored in biology. She interned in research laboratories at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Medical School. In addition to her summer internships, she received a health policy certificate from the Five College Culture, Health and Science program. As a Cleveland, Ohio native, she has also volunteered as an HIV counselor at The Free Medical Clinic of Greater Cleveland where she provided outreach and support to those most vulnerable to infection. She plans to continue her studies in public health by obtaining a doctorate of public health degree with an emphasis on health care policy and management.
Orville Newton-Ray Bignall II, M.D.
Orville Newton-Ray Bignall II is a 2011 medical school graduate with high honors from Meharry Medical College pursuing a career in pediatrics and global health. He received his certificate in health policy and MD degree in May 2011. A summa cum laude graduate of Howard University, in Washington, D.C., Orville completed his bachelor’s degree in three years. Dr. Bignall completed his pediatric residency at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, which is ranked top three in the country for pediatric specialty. He currently practices medicine in Cincinnati.
Kevin Blythe, MD, MSPH
Kevin Blythe was a Spring 2010 health policy scholar and received his Doctor of Medicine degree in May 2013. Kevin is a Southfield, Michigan native, a graduate of the University of Michigan, and a recipient of the 2005 National Merit Achievement Scholarship. Prior to his 2009 graduation with a degree in cellular and molecular biology, Kevin was a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and a founding member and president of Pi Lambda Phi fraternity’s, Epsilon Chapter. Among his talents, Blythe also speaks Japanese.
Kenisha Rose Cantrell, MSPH
Kenisha Rose Cantrell is a 2011 graduate of Meharry Medical College's master of science in public health program, also receiving a certificate in health policy and graduating with high honors. She was a Spring 2010 health policy scholar at the center. Originally from Atlanta, she graduated cum laude from Alabama A & M University with a bachelor’s of science in food science and technologies and a minor in chemistry. She plans to begin work toward a doctorate in environmental health sciences.
Eleanor Fleming, DDS, MA, PhD
Having earning her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in political science from Vanderbilt University, Eleanor Fleming received her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree at Meharry in 2011, also acquiring a certificate in health policy. She was a Spring 2010 health policy scholar at the center and an Ingram Scholar. A native of Franklin, Tennessee, she has been involved in her local community in various capacities. Eleanor led an oral health awareness campaign in Williamson County, Tennessee, providing dental screenings to community groups. Fleming has been a huge supporter of the RWJF Center for Health Policy and often comes back to mentor current scholars. She is currently an epidemiologist for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Joelle Goggans, MSPH
Joelle Goggans is a 2011 high honors graduate of Meharry Medical College’s master of science in public health program, also receiving a certificate in health policy. She was a Spring 2010 health policy scholar at the center. A native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama and a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana she received her bachelor’s degree in biology. While at Xavier, she participated and held positions in many organizations while performing community service throughout the city of New Orleans as the city continued recovering from Hurricane Katrina. During her time at Meharry, Joelle served as a research interviewer in the department of epidemiology at Vanderbilt University.
Piia T. Hanson, MSPH
Originally from Texas, Piia T. Hanson is a 2011 graduate with highest honors of Meharry Medical College’s master of science in public health program. She enrolled at Meharry after ten years in academic research. Piia also received her health policy certificate as a Spring 2010 health policy scholar at the center, her interests focused in health policy and administration. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in biology from Xavier University of Louisiana, she began her research career studying the role of the beta cell in the pathophysiology of non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. She currently works as a senior program manager of Women's and Infant Health for the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs in Washington, DC.
Khalil Harbi, MD, MSPH
Khalil Harbi, is a 2011 graduate with highest honors of Meharry Medical College’s master of science in public health program, also receiving a Certificate in Health Policy. Khalil received his doctorate from the University of Hassan II (Casablanca, Morocco). While participating in research projects related to improving diabetes care in the Hispanic community in Nashville, he decided to pursue a master of science in public health and a health policy certificate at Meharry. His interests are global health policies and medical anthropology.
Asher A. Turney, MD, MBA, MSPH
Asher A. Turney is a 2011 graduate of Meharry Medical College's master of science in public health program, graduating with high honors. He also received his certificate in health policy. He was a Spring 2010 health policy scholar at the center. He graduated magna cum laude from a joint medical program between Fisk University and Meharry Medical College in 1999. He completed his doctor of medicine degree with numerous honors. During his academic studies, he was inducted into Beta Kappa Chi Biological Honor Society and the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. In 2002, he matched in neurosurgery to Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, and in June 2009, Dr. Turney became an occupational medicine fellow at Meharry Medical College where he entered Meharry’s masters of science in public health program. His interests include community-based approaches to health care and the use of health policy to promote quality, affordable, and accessible health care. Asher was literally born on the campus of Meharry Medical College where he says he was introduced early in life to a health care career.