Realizing the American Dream of Health Equity

April 26, 2016 at 10:29 am Leave a comment

Several of our MPH students attended the annual meeting of the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) in April, in Washington, D.C. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

By Lauren Cenac, BA

Since I first enrolled at Tulane, it has been clear to me that I want to work in domestic health. Despite the global focus of our MPH program, I have always felt drawn to tackling problems we experience here in the United States. One of the most perplexing issues in this country is the staggering disparity in health outcomes experienced by different groups of people. Whether these differences are influenced by race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, gender, or geography, these inequities directly conflict with the principles we, as a nation, idealize as uniquely American.

The gravity of these health disparities was reiterated in many sessions throughout this year’s conference for the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP). During the conference’s opening event, Dr. Michael Lu, head of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, briefly described his family’s journey to the United States as a testament to the strength of American ideals like opportunity, equality, and hard work that are embodied in the American Dream. Despite the fact that his mother had to drop out of school during the 5th grade, his family’s immigration to the U.S. gave him access to the social mobility that allowed him to become the head of a major federal program. His presentation ended with a picture of his two daughters in the Capitol building.

In an era of polarization in American dialogue and politics, it’s important to hear stories like Dr. Lu’s. These tales remind us of the real people behind health statistics. And his family’s story, in particular, helped me remember the focus of my own journey into public health: to create a better, more equitable society for my own daughter. My goal in pursuing my MPH is to help write the narrative in which this country truly realizes the American Dream by ensuring optimal health for all people.

Lauren Cenac is a second-year MPH student and a scholar in the Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health at Tulane. She plans to graduate in August 2016 from the Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health. Her interests include prenatal and postpartum care, breastfeeding, and health communication, policy, and research.

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