The University of Kentucky’s Center for Health Equity Transformation (CHET) recently announced the recipients of its inaugural Equity Changemaker Award for Graduate Students, Professional Students and Postdoctoral Scholars and Undergraduate Essay Competition. The two new awards honor UK scholars who are advancing health equity. 

The Equity Changemaker Award recognizes impactful research by UK postdoctoral scholars, graduate and professional students. The award honors scholars whose research seeks to understand health disparities and inequities and whose mentorship has contributed to the next generation of health equity leaders.

This year’s recipients include Jardin Dogan, a counseling psychology doctoral candidate in the College of Education whose research focuses on health disparities in Black communities.

“It’s imperative for me to disseminate research and resources to Black populations in translatable and digestible ways,” Dogan said. “Achieving health equity requires a multifaceted prevention and intervention approach to help Black people who encounter barriers and challenges on multiple levels.”

CHET’s first Undergraduate Essay Competition was launched to implement programming focused on health equity and anti-racism. Students were invited to reflect on the quote, “Critically intervene in a way that challenges and changes.” Essays focused on the intersection of health and justice to illustrate the importance of health equity.

Nyassa Emedi, a public health major in the College of Public Health, was awarded first place for her essay focused on racism and xenophobia in health care and her commitment to addressing these inequities.

“As a young Black woman, I am aware that there aren’t a lot of people who look like me in the medical field but stepping into a scene that wasn’t built for me is my way of critically intervening in a way that challenges and changes,” said Emedi.

The 2021 winners are:

Equity Changemaker:  

Jardin Dogan, Awardee

Dogan is a counseling psychology doctoral candidate in the College of Education. With a stellar record of scholarly research, community outreach and clinical work, she strives to eliminate mental, social, and sexual health disparities for Black people by focusing on racial identity, racial trauma and mental health; substance use, incarceration and racial health disparities; and Black sexualities, sexual pleasure and intimate relationships.

Kendra OoNorasak, Honorable Mention

OoNorasak is an education sciences doctoral student in the College of Education. Through her outstanding commitment to research, service, teaching, mentorship and program development, OoNorasak has made great strides in addressing nutrition inequity and food insecurity in the UK and Lexington communities.

Kaylin Batey, Honorable Mention

Batey is a second-year medical student in the College of Medicine. His outstanding dedication to social justice, community engagement and mentoring are evidenced through his numerous efforts to address health inequities outside of his medical studies.

Undergraduate Essay:

Nyassa Emedi, First Place

Emedi, a public health major in the College of Public Health, is committed to addressing racism and xenophobia in health care by personally contributing to the diversity of health care professionals. She has also led advocacy efforts among her peers to address cyberbullying and participated in community protests against racist violence.

Kayla Woodson, Second Place

Woodson is a political science major in the College of Arts and Sciences. Her essay focused on the impact of medical racism on Black women’s health and its relationship to historic injustices. Woodson also led the UK Student Government Association’s response to the racial injustices happening across the nation, specifically crafting a statement voicing support for justice for Breonna Taylor.