Outclassed? College classrooms differ greatly from high school counterparts (Worcester Mag 8/4/2016-8/10/2016)

As we prepare for the new semester (starting in three weeks!), students will be making their transition from high school (and home) to college. This is such an exciting transition and rite of passage, but also one that can be fraught with so much stress and bumps along the way.

In this article, I talk with Andrew Michaels about the challenges as well as some tips for incoming students: http://worcestermag.com/2016/08/04/outclassed-college-classrooms-differ-greatly-high-school-counterparts/44623

City collaboration leads to Clark U. global health degree (Worc. Bus. Journal, 7/18/2016)

I was recently interviewed by Laura Finaldi from the The Worcester Business Journal about the new Clark University initiative in Global and Community Health which will recruit its first cohort for Fall 2017. This initiative is funded by the Leir Foundation, and includes a consolidation of all health-related activities at Clark including the undergraduate concentration in Public Health, the Global and Community Health graduate certificate, the new MS in Health Sciences, and all our collaborations and partnerships with health-focused agencies locally and internationally.

This is a very exciting initiative which will raise the profile of our program and the exciting (research and applied) public health work our faculty is doing in Worcester.

The full article can be found here: http://www.wbjournal.com/article/20160718/PRINTEDITION/307159980

The FGM and immigration rhetoric

I was interviewed by an online health magazine on concerns about FGM taking place in the United States by Rachel Grumman Bender from youbeauty.com. The article was nicely written, and served as a good introduction for someone who might not be very familiar with the issue. It is entitled “Female Circumcision Is Happening in America” (April 30, 2014).

It has been a while since I have engaged in this debate, being more preoccupied with teaching and other research. In the last ten years, however, it seems that the narrative surrounding FGM has begun to shift. What is different now, however, at least on the national level, are some of the policies introduced that are not alarmist, but are, to a large extent, backed by data, research, and advocacy.It is also encouraging that advocates seem, more or less, to be in agreement as to how the practices should be addressed.

We may never know the extent to which these practices are happening in the United States. We can only estimate, and these estimates could be very conservative.

FGM, as an “issue”, however, cuts to the heart of the current debates and rhetoric about integration, assimilation, and cultural continuity. This is the same debate that is currently taking place in the UK which seems to be playing itself out in the media.

For example,  a London Times opinion piece by Jenni Russell begins with “In a diverse society it is not tolerant to leave minority groups to their own devices – it is neglect.” In it, Russell argues that immigration should equal, in a sense, assimilation of values and practices, and that maintenance of “home values” prevents children from “succeeding” in a class-based society where access to employment, education, and opportunities are only available to people who have internalized the dominant cultural paradigms. Cultural continuity, in this sense, becomes antithetical to full citizenship.

FGM, when viewed through the prism of immigration, becomes a “problem” that they bring with them that needs to be “solved” by us. After all, if they were real [insert citizenship of choice here], then they would not continue these barbaric practices.

The “solution” has to be collaborative and participatory rather than paternalistic and punitive. Here’s an excellent example of how it can be done:


(link to article)

We should keep in mind that FGM is too complex for a simple solution. It requires education and support as people try to reconcile their culture with their new environment. When this environment, however, is perceived as hostile and threatening, the likelihood of assimilation/integration is unlikely to be smooth or successful in however the host culture defines success.

“Health Matters” interview by Worcester DPH Commissioner of Public Health

On May 14th 2014, I was interviewed by Dr. Michael Hirsh from the Worcester District Medical Society on my community-based work in the Ghanaian community on healthy pregnancies. With me are Dr. Alexis Travis from the March of Dimes and Grace Williams, R.N.

This interview covers the recently established community-based working group, Nhyira Ba (Blessed Baby), a project “by the community, for the community”.

“An Ounce of Prevention” in Clark Alumni Magazine

The Clark/DPH Academic Health Department,  that I have been involved in was prominently featured in the Clark University Alumni Magazine in Fall 2014.

The article, written by Jim Keogh, interviews John O’Brien, former CEO of UMASS Medical and current Distinguished Professor at the Mosakowski Institute, Derek Brindisi, current Director of the Worcester Department of Public Health, William Mosakowski, and myself about reasons behind this initiative, and some of the ongoing projects done by faculty and students in the community in collaboration with DPH.

This initiative, based on another model in Kentucky, links the university with the DPH in a way that allows students to gain knowledge about the public health system, become involved in ongoing collaborative research with faculty projects that have been formally or informally commissioned by the DPH, and gain real life exposure, from early on in their studies, about conducting community-based, collaborative research in benefit of the city.

One component of this model is designed to respond to public health questions efficiently, collaboratively, and in a sustained manner.

1. In collaboration with the DPH, faculty use their knowledge and experience in research or topical expertise to design focused projects to answer specific questions that are part of a broader study or initiative.

2. Students then work closely with the faculty to design a study from initial design, to data gathering, to reporting.

3. Findings from the study get shared with the DPH and other stakeholders.

4. Reports and data get archived and are accessible by the next group of students so that research can be advanced with as little replication as possible.

This approach minimizes community research fatigue, and allows knowledge to be used and built upon.

The article in its entirety can be accessed here: http://issuu.com/clarkuniversity/docs/alumni_spring_mag_2014_web?e=0/8422101

“Town-Gown Partnership Tackles Population Health Management”

June 26, 2014

The Health Data Management journal did a feature article on the Clark/DPH Academic Health Department. The article features John O’Brien, former CEO of UMASS Medical and current Distinguished Professor at the Mosakowski Institute, and myself speaking about this exciting partnership.

The article also contains a section on the Worcester Healthy Baby Collaborative and Nhyira-Ba, two examples of the type of collaboration that I have been doing with the DPH.

The full article can be found here: http://www.healthdatamanagement.com/news/Town-Gown-Partnership-Tackles-Popoulation-Health-Management-48299-1.html?zkPrintable=1&nopagination=1