Ms. Ezinne Nwankwo, a doctoral student at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, has been selected to participate in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Health Policy Research Scholars Program.
The four-year program is designed for doctoral students from all fields to learn how to translate their research into health policies, develop leadership skills and engage in interdisciplinary collaborations, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s call for applications document.
Ms. Nwankwo, who immigrated with her family from Nigeria to San Francisco when she was 10, says she’s interested in learning how policies can affect the health of immigrant communities in the U.S., including their ability to access healthcare. Ms. Nwankwo’s family, she says, was enrolled in Medi-Cal, California’s free or low-cost health coverage program, because her mother was not initially offered health insurance through her employer. When she was eventually covered, her mother didn’t earn enough to add her four children to her plan.
“We went to a great health center in San Francisco and never felt out of place,” says Ms. Nwankwo, who is pursuing her doctoral degree in FSPH’s department of community health sciences. “I think access to these types of resources are essential to ensuring that everyone in the U.S. can live a healthy life.”
During the school year, students in the Health Policy Research Scholars Program will take online courses and seminars about evaluating and crafting health policy. For their first two summers with the program, the students will have the opportunity to spend time in Washington, DC, where they’ll interact with national policymakers and receive training in media, communications and leadership. During the third summer, they’ll participate in health policy research at a university or health research organization. Their last summer semester will involve attending a writing retreat.
Prior to enrolling at UCLA, Ms. Nwankwo worked as research data analyst at UCSF on several studies. One study funded by the National Institutes of Health focused on developing interventions for minority doctoral students to encourage them to complete their education programs. In another, Ms. Nwankwo analyzed data from interviews with healthcare providers who volunteered during the 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic in West Africa. The research team sought to learn about the volunteers’ experiences and the related psychosocial impacts.
The Health Policy Research Scholars Program is designed for second-year doctoral students from underrepresented populations and disadvantaged backgrounds, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The 2018 Health Policy Research Scholars program includes 40 participants who will each receive an annual stipend of $30,000 for up to four years. Participants may continue in the Health Policy Research Scholars program, without the annual stipend, for a fifth year.