Williams and Hutchins Health Equity Award
The Williams-Hutchins Health Equity Award recognizes exceptional CDC Undergraduate Public Health Scholars (CUPS) program student projects that advance health disparity science and minority health. The projects feature the best work from CUPS students’ summer experiences working in public health. The award honors the outstanding public health careers of Walter W. Williams, MD, MPH, FACPM and Sonja S. Hutchins, MD, MPH, DrPH, FACPM.
Williams-Hutchins Health Equity Award candidates will be evaluated and selected by their program based on one of the following criteria:
- Exceptional performance, including work factors such as quality, productivity, timeliness, cost reduction, or improved service to the public
- Exemplary actions, including special projects, overcoming unusual or difficult circumstances, or problem-solving using extraordinary methods or insight
- Efficient and courteous service, unusual initiative in developing new approaches or procedures, innovations that improve effectiveness, creative work on a specific project, efforts beyond the call of duty and beyond the scope of the position.
The announcement of Williams-Hutchins award recipient(s) will occur at the end of the summer experience.
Current Award Recipients
1st Place – Kelly Reyna
Project Title: A County in Crisis: Housing as a Social Determinant of Health in Los Angeles County
Mentors: Richard L. Zaldivar, Christopher Aono, and Hanna Paola Silva
Project Placement: The Wall-Las Memorias Project (http://www.thewalllasmemorias.org/aboutExternal)
Project Details: Kelly interned at The Wall-Las Memorias Project, a community health organization in Los Angeles that serves low-income and hard to reach communities throughout Los Angeles, which educates community members on the importance of HIV/AIDS, substance abuse prevention, and community building in the LGBT community. She worked alongside the organization’s executive director and HIV program manager to address the health needs of the community and participate in advocacy and community engaged program planning. For her health equity project at UCLA, she was part of a team of scholars that examined housing as a social determinant of health and researched how the absence of adequate housing impacts community health. The group also explored the impact gentrification has on housing and homelessness.
During Kelly’s participation in the UCLA Public Health Scholars Training Program, she exemplified outstanding leadership and exceptional teamwork, problem solving, and critical and creative thinking skills. Kelly plans to pursue a career in the field of public health and is committed to advancing health equity.
Honorable Mention: Sierra MacEachron and Ayanna Smith
1st Place – Joseph Haverlock
Project Title: Disproportionality of Criminalization Among LGBTQ Youth: Drivers of Criminalization and Recommendations for Improving Health Outcomes
Mentors: Dr. Marta Hernandez and Khushbu Srivasta
Project Placement: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), Center for Health Equity
Project Details: In the United States, certain groups of people are disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system, leading to an array of negative health outcomes. One of the most over-represented groups in the juvenile-justice system is LGBTQ youth of color, who experience much higher levels of discrimination than their heterosexual counterparts. In order to understand and combat this criminalization, Joseph examined the risk factors associated with LGBTQ criminalization such as discrimination, homelessness, and law enforcement, as well as the short-and-long-term effects of involvement with the system. To prevent further disproportionate criminalization of LGBTQ youth of color, efforts for criminal justice reform must include LGBTQ people when addressing discrimination, law enforcement, and policies.
Joseph spent his summer at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene working on the Out of Safe Spaces Project in the Center for Health Equity. He worked on developing trainings focused on safe spaces for LGBTQ youths. As a result of his outstanding work, he was offered the opportunity to remain after the summer program ended. Joseph was later offered a position at the NYC DOHMH to continue his work.
Honorable Mention: Reginald Woods and Julia Steele
Walter Williams, MD, MPH, FACPM began his career at CDC in 1981 as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officer with the Hospital Infections Program in the National Center for Infectious Diseases. Williams has held a number of leadership positions during his career at CDC, including serving as director, Office of Minority Health/Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities (1998-2010). He holds the distinction of being the first African American to complete a 30-year career as a Commissioned Corps Officer in the US Public Health Service at CDC.
Sonja S. Hutchins, MD, MPH, DrPH, FACPM joined CDC as an EIS officer in 1986 with the Division of Immunization. While with OMHHE, Hutchins served as acting associate director for science; associate director for medical science; and senior medical advisor and lead for OMHHE’s public health preparedness and response activities. She was the first African American female to enter the EIS program and complete a 30-year career as a Commissioned Corps Officer in the US Public Health Service at CDC. Hutchins retired on June 1, 2017.
1st Place – Aubrey Alvarenga
Project Title: Impact of PrEP Use on STI Rates in a Sample of Young People
Mentor: Dr. Renata Arrington-Sanders
Project Details: Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a strategy to prevent against contracting HIV infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends PrEP for people considered at high risk of HIV infection. PrEP is approved in persons ≥35 kg. Randomized and open label trials suggest that PrEP results in increased sexually transmitted infection (STI) rates in adolescents and young adults (AYAs). Yet, there is little applicable data on impact of PrEP on STI rates in adolescents. Further research can shed light on sexual behavior misconceptions and PrEP use in AYAs. The project assessed STI rates in the AYA population that received PrEP counseling and services at the Center for Adolescent and Young Adult Health located in the Johns Hopkins Harriet Lane Clinic and to examine STI risk with PrEP use.
Aubrey directly contributed to the knowledge of Baltimore’s youth population and use of PrEP, a relatively new drug that is being promoted to reduce STI rates. Aubrey’s findings were significant and applicable to the health disparities of this particular community and minority health research.
Honorable Mention: Jacqueline Cabral and Raie Gessesse
1st Place – Rezwana Uddin
Project Title: The Forgotten Contributor: Paternity in Early Childbearing
Mentor: Dr. Cleopatra Caldwell
Project Details: Contrary to stereotypes of Black fathers, studies show that Black fathers were more likely to care for their children’s needs than their Hispanic and White counterparts (Jones et al., 2013). Despite the growing data favoring young Black fathers’ involvement with their children, the myth of the missing Black father still exists in American society. This project accessed the perceptions of fatherhood for young Black males by analyzing how their relationships with the mother of their babies influence their views of parental roles.
Young, low-income, non-residential Black fathers face many barriers influencing involvement in their children’s lives. SPSS was used to analyze descriptive statistics including frequencies, central tendency, range, and skewness, along with bivariate Pearson’s correlations. Cronbach’s Alpha was used for reliability, and scales were developed based on acceptable categories. The results of the correlation matrix and multiple regression indicated that it is not the relationship with the mother of the baby (MOB) that positively shapes perceptions of fatherhood, but feelings of control over life and support from their mother instead. Young, Black first-time fathers will have more positive impressions of fatherhood and value their paternal roles if they have closer, more satisfying relationships with the MOB.
Honorable Mention: Manuma’a Finau and Andrew Nguyen
1st Place – Mahad Gudal
Project Title: An Environmental Scan of Community Noise Ordinances to Inform a Noise Code Framework
Mentors: Yulia Carroll, PhD; John Eichwald, MA; and Padmaja Vempaty, MSW, MPH
Project Details: This project involved a systematic review of literature to identify current knowledge and gaps on effects of noise on health in animal studies. This research will supplement a CDC report on the effects of noise on health, which serves as basis for establishing safe exposure levels to noise in non-work environments. The second part of the project included writing a paper using limited available data on how early in life exposures to noise affect health and hearing loss onset later in life. This project will serve as an evidence base for establishing early age groups to target and test for CDC’s noise and hearing loss prevention messaging campaigns.
Honorable Mention: Rania Ali and Biftu Bussa
Public Health Leader Fellowship Program (PHLFP)
1st Place – Justin Holman
Project Title: Scratching the Surface: Qualitative Analysis of Violence Against Boys and Young Men in Efforts to Support OVC Programming
Mentors: KaeAnne Parris, MPH and Viva Combs Thorsen, PhD
Project Details: This project involved supporting the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) technical unit within the Pediatric and Adolescent HIV team in the Maternal and Child Health Branch. Justin worked with branch members to analyze, summarize, and report OVC program data and to support the team’s data-driven technical assistance to implement programs. The work involved reviewing tools for program implementation including vulnerability assessment tools, job aids, standard operation procedures, data collection tools, monitoring and evaluation materials, and training tools as needed. Justin prepared responses for inquiries, reports, proposals and other documents that highlighted or summarized CDC’s and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief efforts in reaching and serving OVC in resource-limited settings.
Honorable Mention: Daniel Hamilton and Tamee Livermont