UAMS College of Public Health Creates Scholarship to Honor Kate Stewart, M.D., MPH

By Kev' Moye

To commemorate her impact while also financially assisting students who share Stewart’s passion for eliminating health inequities, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health has established the Dr. Mary Kathryn Stewart Scholarship.

“It’s possible that some of the students who are more interested in addressing health equities may also face greater barriers financially to getting a public health education,” Stewart said. “The scholarship is one way we can help address those barriers, so I’m excited about that.”

Stewart, who was a professor (and now professor emeritus) in the Department of Health Policy and Management and director of community engagement for the Translational Research Institute, retired this summer after 26 years with UAMS. Stewart was a pillar in the College of Public Health, as her tenure dates back to the school’s genesis in 2001.

Tom Bruce, M.D., the college’s first dean, placed an emphasis on faculty members involving the community in their various projects. Knowing that Stewart was well-versed in working with community groups, Bruce recruited her to join as faculty in the college to create an Office of Community-Based Public Health.

“The initial goal was to build a net of community partners,” she said. “It took time and a lot of team effort to construct the net. But once the mission gained momentum, it flourished.

“Over time, many funding organizations have begun to require that researchers partner with, or at least engage, the communities affected by issues they aim to study.”

Stewart often conducted community research in partnership with Arkansans residing in rural areas or who are from an underrepresented demographic. Key to her success was that she cared about the well-being of the communities she served.

“People sometimes pass judgment on people who are different from us without understanding why they’re facing the challenges they do,” she said. “But spending time with them and learning about their experiences, perspectives and circumstances can be quite enlightening, and this understanding can help us to do better quality research.”

In recognition of Stewart’s impact and the value of community-based research, the scholarship will benefit students who are either pursuing a career in community-based participatory research, enhancing workforce diversity, or assisting people in rural areas and populations that often face health inequities.

Students who work with minoritized populations, rural communities, communities harmed by social determinants of health, or individuals with nonconforming gender and sexual identities will receive special consideration for the scholarship.

“It’s easier to train someone who is genuinely concerned and wants to make a difference,” Stewart said. “However, the financial aspect of getting the kind of training they’ll need may hold them back from pursuing that education. We are hoping that this support will help the next generation of community-based health researchers to get the proper training and education.”

When reflecting upon the connections made, the community partners she has worked with, the scholarship, and the researchers now leading the mission to the next level, Stewart said she has no doubt that the battle for health equality will continue.

“I took an interest in public health and got into the field because I wanted to move ‘upstream’ and focus on health at the population level,” she said. “Involving those most affected by the issues we are trying to address is more effective than trying to do it ‘for’ them. Imagine that!

“I’m thrilled to see what researchers and students can accomplish together with the community when they have an understanding of the problems and an interest in addressing health equity,” Stewart said. “I’ve worked with a lot of students who have gone on to do remarkable things working with the community, and that’s very inspiring to me.”

Donations can be made to the scholarship by going to In the page’s gift comment section, enter, “Dr. Mary Kathryn Stewart Scholarship.”