UD, community organizations collaborate on new health partnership

Credit: Knack Video + Photo

Credit: Knack Video + Photo

University of Dayton is launching a fellowship aimed at providing opportunities specifically for underrepresented groups and will also launch a new think tank to address Black infant and maternal mortality in Montgomery County.

The Health Equity Fellowship is sponsored by the Scarlet Feather Fund and the think tank, Health Equity Activation Think Tank, is sponsored by CareSource. UD said the two gifts commit more than $1 million to health equity in the region.

Nancy McHugh, executive director of the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community, which houses the new initiatives, said health equity means everyone would be able to achieve their full potential and challenges social, political, racial and economic reasons some people are disadvantaged when it comes to health.

“The fellows program and think tank will prepare a workforce committed to these issues and implement evidence-based solutions to some of our area’s most pressing health inequities,” McHugh said.

Fellows in the new Health Equity Fellows program will have two yearlong paid internships , mentoring, education focused on health policy and other determinants of health and opportunities to help with expenses like medical or graduate school applications and interviews.

The fellowship will launch in fall 2023 with 15 students who are going into their second year of college. The program will take three years and does not limit what kind of major that the person is in to be accepted.

Underrepresented groups include Black, Latino and LGBTQ+ students, but McHugh said students would be evaluated in an open-ended way to be accepted into the program as someone may have a diverse experience and be a good fit. The application process isn’t about checking boxes, but having a conversation, McHugh said.

“Each student who comes in this program has a story,” McHugh said. “We have in parts of our identities sometimes that are invisible, right, and part of those contribute to the ways in which we’re underrepresented and marginalized.”

Fellows also will work with the health equity think tank, which includes partner organizations such as Dayton Children’s Hospital, the Boonshoft Medical School at Wright State University, Miami Valley Child Development and Omega Community Development Corporation. The think tank will address a variety of health inequities, focusing on community-driven partnerships to drive solutions.

“The Health Equity Fellows program will fill a critical gap in the community by providing student a rich educational experience while building a platform for more equitable health policies, structures, practices and outcomes,” said Jessica Salem, director, The Center for Health Equity at Dayton Children’s.

McHugh said the university hopes the students who go through the program will come back to Dayton when they are done with college, medical school or graduate school, what she calls the “next,” though there is not a requirement to do so.

“When they finish that next, we want them to return to Dayton and Montgomery County, because this is where their deepest experiences and opportunities have been felt,” she said.

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