This week, the MERIT Sophomore Scholars were brainstorming ideas for our USAEF booth. Some of the ideas they thought of were having a social determinant simulation where they would have colored papers that coded for things like patients with disabilities, patients with no health insurance, and patients that come from low income community. With this simulation, the scholars would have participants pick a color and with that the scholars would discuss the health disparities regarding the chosen color.
Another idea the scholars discussed was having a myth vs truth game about diabetes. When asked about how she felt about the USAEF booth ideas, a scholar mentioned that she was, "learning a lot through this project because for example, before I thought diabetes was something you get from eating too many sweets but now I know that there are two different types of diabetes and many different ways, other than eating too many sweets, to get diabetes." Another scholar exclaimed, "I'm very excited to be a part of this science and engineering fair because I've been to conventions and other science engineering fairs but I'v never presented in one before. It will be a new experience and I'm looking forward to it!" MERIT applauds this kind of energy and excitement and we are very happy to see scholars be passionate about the projects they are working on. We look forward to seeingthis kind of energy consistently throughout the MERIT program.
This week, we also welcomed Dr. Gauda to the MERIT to our Health Equity Leaders Speaker series. A scholar said that the speaker series has helped him, "see the different journeys that our speakers have taken to get to where they are. It is inspiring and encouraging to see that they have gotten to where they are through different paths. It is just like what our first speaker said (Dr. McQuay) about how getting to medical school is not a straight path!" It is exciting to see that our scholars have been enjoying our new speaker series and quote previous speakers. We hope to continuously see this engagement with our new speaker series!
Dr. Gauda began her talk with a couple interesting statistics about health disparities. She talked about how populations that are under represented have a higher incidence of disease than our majority race. For example, an African American women that is educated and has a high paying job has an equal chance of having a premature baby as a caucasian women that is uneducated and with a low paying job. Dr. Gauda stated that this showed that resources are not the only factor that is contributing to this statistic and said that "everything we do has to be based on a few important principles: we wat to make a difference in these statistics, we want to be successful, be in a position of influence, and be a role model for others locally and globally." She closed her talk with her "formula to be successful in life and career: Passion, Perseverance, and Partnership- Passion, because you enjoy doing things you are passionate about and what makes you happy makes you successful, Perseverance, because it is easy too show up and live up to whatever you are passionate about, and Partnership, because no one does it alone." We hope that the MERIT scholars take Dr. Gauda's wise words to heart and use them as a guidance in continuing their path in having a successful future!