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Institute for Health Care Policy and Aging Research
Mahya Jean-Baptiste
Project L/EARN Intern - 2006
Mahya Jean-Baptiste
Is neighborhood safety perception associated with childhood overweight/obesity?
Joel Cantor, Sc.D.
Distinguished Professor
E.J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy

Mahya is a first generation college student majoring in Psychology and Biological Sciences at Rutgers College, Rutgers University. She will graduate in Spring 2008, and pursued a Project L/EARN internship to help her decide whether to attend medical school or a doctoral program in social psychology. Regardless of the path she chooses, Mahya would like to attend a graduate school that emphasizes areas such as policy reform regarding health and health care, and the application of innovative health programs within the community. Mahya was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and immigrated to the United States at 2 years old. She is one of six children.

Project L/EARN introduced Mahya to the world of research in ways her undergraduate curriculum could not. It provided a realistic experience of the level of work required for graduate school. In addition to the perspective gained through her extensive exploration of existing literature on determinants of childhood obesity, Mahya reports that Project

L/EARN has taught her how to critically read and evaluate published research findings. As a result, she has also gained insight into knowledge lacking in certain fields, such as ethnic disparities within race categories traditionally used in research. For example, in the near future, she would like to study the heterogeneity of the non-Hispanic Black population, including those born in Africa, the U.S., and the Caribbean. These groups have very different cultural norms, and the implications when assessing and interpreting gender and racial disparities in health care are marked. Mahya feels that addressing this issue is critical to clarifying the muddy waters of disparities in health care utilization when the services are available, potential discrimination on behalf of physicians, and how that affects adherence to medical advice.

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