Statement of purpose
My passion for social services to promote equity is deeply-rooted in my personal upbringing. When I moved to Nigeria, I spent my pre-adolescent years observing the dysfunctional political environment and the broken, inadequate healthcare system affecting the health of the people it is designed to serve. In addition, I experienced how many families neglect discussing mental health, directing to the high rate of suicide among youths. Noticing this disparity at a young age, I realized there is an immense need of health education and action in my community.
For my undergraduate studies, I majored in psychology at the University of Arizona (UA) in order to become a mental health educator. Eager to attain skills in the profession, I interned as a group facilitator at a divorce recovery program, where I facilitated lessons on emotional health and coping mechanisms for children from divorced homes. I appreciated that the children expressed their emotions about their family's situation, as it negatively affected their emotional well-being. Furthermore, I realized that children needed emotional support and positive coping strategies to improve their overall well-being. In addition, I wanted to gain more knowledge about emergent health issues in Tucson, Arizona, and this desire for more knowledge motivated me to enroll in public health courses.
My first introduction to public health focused on health disparities in diverse communities. When I listened to the professor's lecture about border health, I was intrigued. The lecture informed me about the urgency to implement patient-health education programs and alleviate cultural barriers in diabetes care along the U.S.-Mexico border. To cultivate my growing interest, I chose to acquire more understanding on alleviating health disparities in minority communities.
At the beginning of spring 2019, I was selected to participate in the XX where Dr. XX from the Southwest Institute Research on Women (SIROW) mentored me as I conducted a small-scale study over the summer. My project investigated the factors that influence medication adherence and disparity in cardiovascular diseases (CVD) among African American patients. I found that chronically ill African American patients adhered less to treatments due to language barriers and cost of medications.
My research finding underscored the importance of creating culturally competent training in medical schools and culturally relevant health education programs to eliminate CVD risks among African American patients. At the conclusion of the summer, I presented my project at the XX and exhibited a research poster at the XX. These valuable experiences gave me the opportunity to expand my capacity in research including conducting literature reviews, generating statistical analyses, and writing a scientific paper.
Due to the success of my research project, I continued to work with Dr. XX and applied my analytical skills to two community projects at XX. During my time with UROC, I was appointed as a programming support intern at the XX Project, which provided trauma-informed supportive services and social support for homeless LGBTQ+ youths. In my role as a programming support intern, I enjoyed assisting social support groups and was directly exposed to structural barriers in health services in which limited mental health resources were available for homeless LGBTQ+ youths. Participants would often disclose their substance abuse history, express experiencing depressive episodes, and a lack of familial supports. Thus, our initiative took action in facilitating mental health interventions while accounting for the intersectionality of all identities at hand.
Furthermore, after my experience at the XXproject, I took a research assistantship at the XX project. My experience with the XX granted the opportunity to evaluate program curricula and create social media content to address sexual health education. This initiative is carried out through sex education counseling and testing services with the XX County Health Department for minority youth populations in Tucson. Our work was in response to the gaps in school curricula regarding sexual health education. I became aware of how these gaps can lead to limited health knowledge and increase risk to poor health practices and, ultimately, of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This gap addressed the need for evidence-based and culturally appropriate sexual health knowledge in educational curricula to help youths overcome barriers to accessing healthcare facilities. Additionally, I learned that youths need research-informed knowledge to improve their prevention of STIs and the appropriate use of contraceptives.
Being exposed to the health issues through my community involvements, I was critically thinking about how schools. I am motivated to explore various frameworks and assist with schools and community-based afterschool programs in developing culturally relevant curricula and health services to promote sexual and mental health outcomes among minority youths. Through a Master of Public Health, I am ready to continue gaining more professional skills and training in public health research and education.
The Master of Public Health (MPH) program in Health Promotion and Health Education concentration at the University of Texas Health Center (UTHealth) in Houston appeals to me, because of its strong emphasis on integrating social and behavioral sciences, which resonates with my background in psychology. Since I strive to develop and implement culturally relevant sexual health education programs and mental health interventions in academic settings, the coursework will enable me to obtain the skills and knowledge to successfully integrate, design, and evaluate curricula in school-based health services targeting minority youth populations. As the program offers endless research and service activities through its Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research, I am prepared to apply classroom knowledge into assisting collaborative research projects. The Health Promotion and Health Education track will equip me to supplement my training and experiences with collaborative community initiatives and bolster my problem-solving capacities. As an MPH graduate student, I want to assist creating program curricula to modify health behaviors in diverse youth populations and to continue enhancing my community leadership skills and analytical capabilities.
After completing my Master's degree at UTHealth in Houston, I intend to pursue a PhD in a Health Promotion Science field. My long-term career goal is to pursue an academic career as a tenured-track research professor at a Research-One institution to conduct research on reducing disparities in underserved communities and evaluation of culturally sensitive interventions. Therefore, I anticipate that this Master's degree will guide me to collaborate with schools and health organizations by fostering equitable access to health services. The MPH in Health Promotion and Health Education program will be a milestone for my journey, and I am convinced to immerse myself into a community thriving towards the same mission.