Winston Uses Career to Promote Public Health and Public Health Education

By Kev' Moye

Winston, who graduated from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health in the spring of 2020, is the education coordinator for the UAMS HBCU Med Track Program and its S.U.P.E.R. Project at the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff (UAPB) and Philander Smith University.

“The HBCU Med Track Program allows me to connect with students enrolled at historically Black colleges and universities and also assist them throughout the application process for any UAMS health program they’re interest in,” she said.

“I receive the chance to educate students on public health, the components of research and health disparities. My students also conduct public health research that focuses on a specific health disparity. I’m shaping undergraduate students into public health advocates.”

Winston, an alumna of UAPB, embraces the opportunity to encourage individuals to get a public health education. From the standpoint of introducing young adults to public health, it’s a full-circle situation for Winston.

She first heard about public health as a member of the UAPB Biology Club. During one of their meetings, Arkansas Rep. Vivian Flowers was the guest speaker. Flowers spoke on the impact of public health, and how its various careers help improve the standard of living for Arkansans.

When Flowers referenced the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health and its dual degree MPH-MD program, Winston became intrigued. She then researched the concept of public health and the college. Also, one of her instructors spoke glowingly about the school.

“I had a professor who told me to apply,” she said. “I had completed a year of clinical hours and thought that would be a great time to pursue a public health education before going to medical school.”

Winston ultimately applied for and was accepted into the college, earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree, with a concentration in Health Policy and Management (HPM). The Pine Bluff native said attending UAMS was invaluable in terms of education, cultural enlightenment and gaining a sense of accomplishment.

“The college exposed me to several public health concentrations,” Winston said. “But the HPM concentration ignited the passion I have for creating and reforming infrastructure and policies.”

“I also enjoyed connecting with people from different backgrounds,” she said. “It was exhilarating pursuing a public health degree from a college that’s highly respected nationally.”

When asked about her job and its role in advancing public health in Arkansas, Winston said it’s important because it teaches future leaders of society about public health while also addressing current representation shortcomings in health care.

“I promote public health to students who represent an underserved population,” she said.  “Although they begin as a community representative through lived experiences, as a result, they pursue public health careers and other fields of health care, becoming the public health and/or health care practitioner.

“When I was growing up, there wasn’t much Black representation in health care in Pine Bluff. Nor were there many health-related programs like the HBCU Med Track that brings exposure to such careers.”

Arkansas’ health shortcomings most often have the biggest effect on minorities and residents of rural areas. A desire to help fix the issue also motivates Winston.

“Arkansas’ overall health status can improve with the understanding of what public health is and why it’s important,” she said. “Public health can mitigate issues such as access to healthier foods, better housing options and much more. I want to see Arkansas thrive and become healthier.”

Winston, who plans to pursue a doctoral degree, acknowledged that molding the students into health care professionals is more than a job. It’s her way of helping to promote health equity, public health and to make an impact on society.

“Over the last three years the best accolades I’ve received are my students gaining admission into UAMS’ colleges,” she said. “I always take pride in the students continuing their education at UAMS.”