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Dissolving Health Disparities

Through a prestigious summer internship, May 2011 graduate Hannah Grow hopes to help solve some of the world's health inequities.

by Sara LaJeunesse

The world's uneducated poor tend to die at younger ages and spend more of their lives suffering than the world’s educated elite. This health disparity both fascinates and saddens May 2011 graduate Hannah Grow. But rather than dwell on the problem, she hopes to do something about it.

Hanna Grow

Grow, who majored in Spanish and health policy and administration at Penn State, is one of fourteen individuals—chosen from a pool of 200 applicants—to be selected by The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation as a 2011 Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholar. As a scholar, she is spending the summer working as a fellow in the office of Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA), where she is gaining firsthand knowledge of health policy and the policymaking process.

"I was very surprised and honored when I was informed of my selection," said Grow. "I knew it was a national program and, therefore, I did not expect my application to be among the fourteen that was selected."

This summer, Grow also is attending issue briefings on topics, such as the United States' health system, healthcare reform, and Medicare/Medicaid programs, as well as on global topics, such as infectious disease, bioterrorism, and HIV. She will conclude the program by writing a policy memo and participating in a group policy presentation with the other Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholars on a theme regarding racial and ethnic health disparities.

"The main reason I became interested in health policy and health disparities is because of my involvement in Penn State’s chapter of GlobeMed," said Grow. GlobeMed is a network of university students that partner with grassroots organizations around the world to improve the health of people living in poverty. "Through this organization, I learned how I can be an agent of change for global health equity, but I also learned to recognize the disparities that exist in my own country as well," she said.

Grow hopes to apply what she learns this summer as a member of the Peace Corps. Her goal is to work as a Peace Corps health extension volunteer in Central or South America. "Eventually I would like to get a master's degree in public health and work as a project director for a health-related non-profit organization or as a policy analyst for a health and human services consulting agency," she said.

To learn more about the Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholars Program, go to: www.kff.org/minorityhealth/bjscholars/.

To learn more about GlobeMed, go to: www.globemed.org/penn.

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Editors: For additional information, please contact the College of Health and Human Development Office of College Relations at 814-865-3831 or healthhd@psu.edu.