Written by Antonia Asher, MPH Candidate, Tulane University and participant in the 2019 Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program – Public & Global Health Track
As a participant of the Institute of Public Health Summer Research Program- Public & Global Health track, I am working with Dr. Darrell Hudson, Associate Professor, Brown School, and his research team. Dr. Hudson’s project is focused on how upward mobility influences stress and coping mechanisms of college-educated black residents of St. Louis. During my time here, I strengthened my skill set in qualitative research methods as I worked alongside doctoral student, Whitney Sewell, on axial coding thematic analysis of men’s and women’s focus group interviews.
Additionally, Dr. Hudson encouraged me to use the collected data to study a topic of my own interest. Through reading literature, I stumbled upon the Superwoman Schema theoretical framework that explains characteristics black women are encouraged to embody in the face of adversity, which affects how they experience and report stress. Previous research looked at demographically diverse groups of black women, so I thought it would be interesting to evaluate this schema in our data population of upwardly mobile women. I am grateful for this opportunity to not only learn about a new area of research, but to craft my own research project with Dr. Hudson’s support.
Research should not be done for the sake of research, but to learn from it and to translate it into policy and practice.
Outside of research, I am grateful for all of the new friendships that I have made and the adventures we had exploring a new city. St. Louis has a lot to offer in the summer from outdoor plays and concerts, to Ted Drewes Frozen Custard after a trip to the zoo, to Cardinals games at Busch Stadium, to meals on the Delmar Loop after work. Each of my peers have been integral to my learning journey through discussions about their research, our weekly seminars, and current events.
This experience has continued to challenge and further my understanding of public health concepts. For instance, I have realized how drastically effects of racial residential segregation linger, although the policies and laws that created them are now illegal. I have considered the stress of being a minority navigating predominately white spaces at work and at university through reading testimonies in focus-group transcripts. It has re-humanized public health through thinking of people as people and not problems to be solved. It emphasizes the amount of important work to be done to create an equitable world.