Yaa S. Simpson-Pryor, MPH (right) pictured with Barbara L. Dancy, MSN, PhD, associate professor in the UIC College of Nursing and Principal investigtor of the HEROIC project

My name is Yaa Sharon Simpson-Pryor. I graduated this spring with a Masterís in Public Health earned in the Health Policy and Administration Division. For the last two years of my studies, I worked as a research assistant (RA) on a project called HEROIC (Health Education Reaching Out Into the Community). The experience I received from my work on this project was enormous. My job entailed teaching women about HIV/AIDS and other key health issues including nutrition, breast cancer, diabetes, and hypertension. In two years of teaching in the inner city on the South and West Sides of Chicago, I made connections with the women in the program that I will cherish all my life.

While involved with the project, I had the opportunity to be part of a presentation at a conference for the National Institutes of Health, our projectís sponsors. I also participated in health fairs and community service drives at the sites where I worked. This project made me realize the importance of working in the community. It allowed me to meet caring and concerned individuals who taught me how to be more effective as a teacher and role model. For me, this research assistantship epitomized what it means to work in public health.

I highly encourage new students to find research assistantships that can be as inspiring for their own careers.

Contributed by Yaa S. Simpson-Pryor, MPH

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