At the American Heart Association, we believe everyone deserves the opportunity for a longer, healthier life. For nearly 100 years, it’s been our mission to fulfill that vision and pave the way for future innovation and bold action that saves lives. Our EmPOWERED Scholars Program seeks to do just that – uplifting the ideas and passions of future leaders in health equity by awarding nine exceptional undergraduate students across the nation scholarships to fund their ongoing studies.
This year, the Association recognizes four Howard University (HU) students in the Greater Washington Region as EmPOWERED Scholars.
Meet the future of health equity and hear how they’re working to dismantle barriers to quality and accessible health care.
A New Orleans native, Ayana Vicks-Jason is a second-year biology major and chemistry minor. She aspires to be a dentist in hopes of bridging the gap between health equity and equal access to quality dental care. As founder of BlkVoicesAmplified, a nonprofit committed to uplifting the voices of Black youth, Ayana encourages the civic engagement of her peers and has facilitated education, health, political and volunteer service opportunities through the organization. During her free time, Ayana enjoys writing and is the author of the award-winning children’s book, Beautiful Flower: An Ode To Brown Girls.
“I appreciate this opportunity allowing me to have an impact. It gives me hope knowing that people have faith in my initiatives and are investing in what I’m doing,” Ayana said about her experience as an EmPOWERED Scholar.
Born to two hard-working immigrant parents from Accra, Ghana, Bria is a freshman studying political science. On campus, she is the Harriet Tubman Quadrangle Council President where she serves over 600 freshman women and femme students. Bria is also a part of the Ladies of the Quad Social Club committed to instilling the values of sisterhood, scholarship, and service in young women. In her free time, Bria loves to play basketball and also has a passion for digital media and design.
“When I think about policy, the first thing I’m thinking about are the people that are underrepresented, which are black women. Therefore, when I think about my impact and my change, I want to create and edit policies that ensure the inclusion of black women,” said Bria regarding her goals in health equity.
Health Education/Community Health
Jaylah Dorman is a sophomore honors health education major with a concentration in community health and a minor in chemistry. Originally from Durham, North Carolina, she is an aspiring obstetrics and gynecology specialist who has plans to open a community health center. Jaylah is also working to start a nonprofit focused on HBCU alumni engagement.
On campus, she serves as the student ambassador vice president and a member of the student government. In these roles, she has advocated for community health by getting HU students free access to COVID-19 care, personal protective equipment and menstrual products.
Jaylah is spending her summer conducting research with the Duke Center for Research to Advance Health Equity, a role that is personal to her after being treated at Duke for a chronic illness at age 10.
“My personal experience with my chronic illness inspired me to be what my care team at Duke was to me,” Jaylah said.
Biology and Human Performance
A biology and human performance double major, Tatiana Carter has dreams of becoming a sports medicine physician or orthopedic surgeon. Tatiana’s interest in health and advocacy stems in part from her early exposure to research on teen vaping and smoking. During high school, she worked with Youth Built Change to research substance abuse in a rural school and fight to end the youth vaping epidemic.
“I am honored to have my name attached as an American Heart Association scholar because I love the work they do for women and educating people all over the world,” Tatiana said.
Each EmPOWERED Scholar receives a $5,000 scholarship to uplift their role as change agents working to reduce disparities and improve health outcomes. Since 2018, the Association has awarded over $200,000 in scholarships to students representing 20 universities.
Written by Brendan Locke, former Development Intern