In honor of Black History Month, McNally and Harmon highlight Black contributions and historical moments in health care
Future public health leaders in the Department of Global and Community Health bring awareness to health disparities affecting underserved communities through education, research, and advocacy. Public Health PhD student Kimberly McNally and Master of Public Health student Danielle Harmon lead by example by serving as student ambassadors for This is Public Health (TIPH), a student-centered organization from the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) that provides leadership experience opportunities to public health scholars across the country.
As TIPH ambassadors, McNally and Harmon will each create week-long social media campaigns, referred to as Ambassador Takeovers, that center around a public health topic of their choice. They strategically chose their Ambassador Takeovers to occur in February to raise awareness of historical moments in health care in honor of Black History Month.
McNally, a registered nurse, created her campaign to highlight Black health care heroes who, while often overlooked in nursing textbooks, made substantial contributions to the nursing field.
“To celebrate Black History Month, I am focusing on community health nurses that broke boundaries despite discrimination and barriers,” McNally said. “I am honored to post about community health nurses like Jessie Sleet Scales and Mabel Keaton Staupers. It is important to both public health and nursing to celebrate the pioneers who advocated for their communities and their profession. Their contributions improved our understanding and delivery of culturally competent care.”
The following week, Harmon’s campaign brings attention to the social determinants of health affecting Black communities throughout the nation.
“I plan to bring attention to monumental moments of history such as redlining and radicalized residential segregation to the Tuskegee Syphilis Study that has left the Black community feeling distrustful and at a disadvantage in health care,” said Harmon. “My goal is not just to show how Black people are disproportionately affected but also show how intertwined each of the risk factors is for many of the diseases that affect the Black community at an irregular rate compared to White America.”
The Department of Global and Community Health inspires students to be leaders in their fields. Students accomplish this through interprofessional networking and applying their skill set to educate others through projects and initiatives, such as TIPH. For McNally and Harmon, the TIPH experience, coupled with their Mason coursework, allows them to gain the skills needed to pursue their career goals as health care leaders.
McNally said her student experiences have transformed her outlook on global health and will benefit her future career as a nursing educator. “My TIPH experience and my Mason coursework have challenged me to think beyond my role and identity as a nurse. I am now able to see health from a bigger perspective, and I have also had the opportunity to learn from student and faculty experiences. I will leave Mason as a better clinician and a more well-rounded educator.”
Harmon will apply the skills she is learning to pursue a health policy analyst career after completing her degree.
“My TIPH involvement [gives] me an array of experience from working collaboratively with people from different backgrounds, collecting information to develop engaging materials for a broad audience, and the ability to put forth accredited materials to help bring awareness to health topics,” said Harmon. “I am very confident that the rest of my coursework at Mason will give me the foundation and building blocks to a successful career in health policy by giving me the knowledge needed to analyze, write, and develop health policies.”
To view McNally and Harmon's social media campaigns, visit This is Public Health on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.