Written by Shaneta Ford, Health Strategies Intern
Every person deserves the opportunity for a full, healthy life, and as champions for health equity, the American Heart Association is making that vision a reality. Guided by 10 bold commitments, we are dedicated to removing barriers to health care access and quality and advancing cardiovascular health for all by 2024.
These commitments include investing $100 million in new research programs and grants focused on science-based solutions to health inequities and expanding educational opportunities in science and medicine through our EmPOWERED Scholars Program.
As a 2021-2022 EmPOWERED Scholar, Madison Tate, a Howard University student majoring in biology, is passionate about achieving health equity to improve health outcomes in all communities. “I know I can’t do it all, but I just want to touch as many people as I can,” Madison said.
Growing up in Chicago, Madison witnessed how social determinants of health impact health outcomes across the city. “Life expectancies are glaringly different, the quality of health care services and education are extremely disproportionate,” Madison said. This inspired her to pursue a career in health equity. “It would be fulfilling to make a change and provide equity and let people of my community know that they are cared for and loved because they are just as deserving as anyone else to receive those health care services,” she said.
Madison’s personal medical experiences also fuel her passion for health equity. As a young adult, she developed a skin condition and found it important to work with a dermatologist who made her feel comfortable, listened, and shared common interests. As a result, her dermatologist became her mentor, which is what Madison wants to be to her future patients.
Following graduation, Madison plans to become a dermatologist focused on patient-provider communication and building impactful patient relationships. Along the way, she aspires to work at a clinical setting to bridge gaps in patient care.
Receiving this scholarship has empowered Madison to tackle her coursework and participate in an alternative spring break program where students are assigned a service project in place of their spring break. She traveled to El Paso, Texas, where she assisted individuals facing homelessness and poverty. Student volunteers sorted clothes at a homeless shelter, maintained a community garden, played games with residents at a senior center, and spent time with children and young adults with autism.
“It was gratifying to see how happy people were that we gave up our spring break to spend time with them. It was incredibly rewarding and something that I would 100% do again,” Madison said.
Since 2018, the Association has awarded $139,000 to 21 EmPOWERED Scholars. These future leaders in health equity give their time to community-based organizations, student-led organizations and groups that address food insecurity, safe housing, job opportunities, access to health care and other conditions that can result in health disparities.
Applications are open now through Aug. 15 for the 2022-2023 EmPOWERED Scholars Program. For more information, visit empoweredtoserve.org.