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Graduate Student Stories Transcripts: Lauren Ramsey

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Transcript to Lauren Ramsey's video

I was an undergrad and I found out about this summer research opportunity program at Michigan State University, and I met with my potential mentor, who was also interested in maternal and child health. So it was really crazy at the time, maybe like a week before I met with her, I found out I was pregnant, and I told her "Well I'm pregnant" and she goes "Well do you want to continue the program? I said "Yes" and she said "Okay, but first we need to make sure you have a healthy baby," and I loved her so much for that, and just the work that we did. I focused on abortion and mental health among black and white women, and I just loved it. I fell in love with research, I fell in love with women, and also my own pregnancy experience, that's what drew me to maternal and child health.

I love my cohort mates, they are lifelong friends. I moved here, I don't have any family. I'm a single mother and I didn't know anybody here, and they've done so many different things for me just trying to help me out. They babysat my daughter so I could go to conferences, when I had emergency surgery one of them was at the hospital texting my mother because she was going crazy calling the hospital, but my cohort [inaudible 00:01:14] kept her in the loop. They've just done some really amazing things for me and I really appreciate them.

In the McNair program, I meet with other students who are like me, so students of color, and we share experiences, we get professional development, how to manage self care, and I love meeting with them because it's like a breath of fresh air where it will allow me to vent and share my concerns that I'm having as I progress through graduate school.

I'm focused on the collateral effects of mass incarceration in communities of color. I like to focus on incarceration and its impacts on maternal and child health. Well more so maternal health, because a lot of the maternal and child health literature focuses on the child, and outcomes such as infant mortality, low birth weight, and they often forget about the mother. Me being a mother and an African American women, woman, where we have the highest rate of death due to pregnancy complications or labor complications, I wanted to focus on the mother. So I wanted to look at how incarceration in her community, not that she's directly impacted by it, but communities are directly impacted by incarceration and the environment that we live in definitely impacts our health. So I wanted to look at those factors and how it affects women's health during pregnancy.

I know that the Center for Health Equity does a lot of great work, before starting my PhD I used to work for the State of Michigan and Health Disparity Reduction in Minority Health, and we focused on Health Equity, I made a video documentary discussing the health of Michigan and this, communities of color. And their work has always intrigued me because it's just been very similar to the work that I did before I decided to pursue the PhD. They do a lot of work talking about race, racism, what does health equity mean? How can we achieve health equity? Addressing social determinants of health, so that's most of the work that I'm interested in and I really admire the work that they do.

This area, you know it's the DMV, before I started working on my PhD here, I had a regular 9:00 to 5:00 job, and I would come here for training. So I was a Community Health Educator at a cancer institute in Detroit. They sent us to the National Cancer Institute to receive training, and I just loved the area. I thought that it would bring, give me a lot of different options to get more experience in public health, more research training, so I decided why not go to a school in this area?

I'd also eventually like to do community based research, however that looks. I'm ultimately interested in looking at how racism impacts health, maybe get involved in some type of policy level change. So that's what I'm hoping to, in the long term, do.

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