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Diversity and Inclusion Fellows

The Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Antiracism (IDEA) Fellows at Drexel University's Dornsife School of Public Health (DSPH) lead and support efforts at the School to promote inclusion, diversity, equity, and anti-racism. These fellowships were created by the School on the advice of students as part of our ongoing Action Plan to Enhance Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Anti-Racism.

IDEA Fellows are current students who share an interest in diversity and social justice programming and education, as well as a desire to encourage dialogue among Dornsife and Drexel University community members.

Fellows work closely with an assistant dean, associate dean, or faculty member to develop, implement, or evaluate Dornsife initiatives based on their chosen area of emphasis. Fellows receive a stipend for 10 or 20 hours of work per week for the position, which usually runs from October to June.

The 2022-23 academic year is Dornsife's third year for the IDEA Fellows program, and this is the largest cohort. Read about the highlights and successes of our first cohort: Reflecting on Dornsife’s Commitment to Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Anti-Racism

If you are interested learning more about the IDEA fellowship, visit Dornsife DASH, the student intranet.

2022-23 IDEA Fellows

Asha-Leigh Ashton

Asha-Leigh Ashton headshot

Pronoun(s): she/her
Hometown: Kingston, Jamaica
Program: MPH, Environmental and Occupational Health

Why I chose Dornsife: Ultimately, I chose Dornsife because the curriculum and courses in the MPH Environmental and Occupational Health program align perfectly with my career goals. The program facilitates learning from, and working closely with, faculty members who are experts within their respective fields. Students are well supported in gaining both theoretical knowledge and practical experience.

Dornsife’s commitment to health equity and their focused efforts within the Philadelphia community is another ground that cemented my decision. With the promotion of inclusion, diversity, equity and anti-racism as key tenants of the program; at Dornsife, no one is left out or made to feel less than.

Goals as an IDEA fellow: My fellowship focuses on the advancement and support of the Research theme of the Antiracism Action Plan (AAP). I will be working closely with the Associate Dean for Research, on the idea of 'Conducting research through an anti-racism lens.' My goal as an IDEA Fellow is to help equip Dornsife students, staff, and faculty with essential anti-racism research tools.

Lisa Frueh, MPH

 Lisa Frueh headshot

Pronoun(s): they/them/theirs
Hometown: Portland, OR
Program: PhD, Environmental and Occupational Health

Why I chose Dornsife: I chose Dornsife because of the school’s emphasis on health equity and social justice, and because I found my interests well-represented in the present research at the school.

Goals as an IDEA fellow: Beyond my own research interests, I’m motivated by efforts to democratize the population health sciences. One way to do that is to share, in plain language, our analytic tools, methods, and findings. During summer 2023, I will be working with project lead Dr. Gina Lovasi to develop an online resource of racial segregation and spatial polarization measures for research and practice. We know that segregation is detrimental to physical and mental health, but methods to operationalize segregation can be complex. The goal of this project is to generate a living repository with available measures of segregation along with instructions, code, and examples.

Rashmeet Kaur

Rashmeet Kaur headshot

Pronoun(s): she/her/hers
Hometown: Breslau, ON
Program: 12-month MPH with a concentration in Community Health and Prevention

Why I chose Dornsife: As a future public health scholar, I hope to work alongside communities to understand, address, and abolish health disparities. Therefore, I chose to pursue my Master of Public Health degree at Dornsife because I was drawn to the school's close and meaningful connections with the community. I strongly believe that the MPH program at Dornsife will uniquely prepare me to work with underserved communities to promote health equity initiatives and create a sustainable future.

Goals as an IDEA fellow: As a child of immigrants and a woman of color with experiences living in both rural and urban communities, I am motivated to create accessible experiences for others. Therefore, I look forward to working with staff, faculty, and my peers at Dornsife as an IDEA Fellow to implement the Action Plan to Enhance Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Anti-Racism. I am especially looking forward to working as an IDEA Fellow at The Ubuntu Center.

Anil Kumar

Anil Kumar headshot

Pronoun(s): he/him/his
Hometown: Haryana, India
Program: MPH, Epidemiology

Why I chose Dornsife: I was initially drawn to Dornsife because of the faculty's experience and excellent reputation. Understanding health inequities linked to cardiovascular health is one of my main objectives. I was eager to engage with the Urban Health Collaborative because their research complements my interests. The rigorous curriculum at the school pushes students while preparing them for life in the fast-paced world of today. I am confident that earning my MPH from Dornsife under the guidance of eminent experts would place me at the center of my research goals.

Goals as an IDEA fellow: Understanding academic governance and the associated tenure and promotion processes for faculty is my main objective as an IDEA fellow. I'm interested in finding out how tenure and promotion procedures take into account diversity and inclusion initiatives. The goal of our project is to discover how the "invisible labor" of faculty, which frequently goes unrecognized might be utilized to make the tenure and promotion assessment holistic.

Sumbul Murtaza

Sumbul Murtaza headshot

Pronoun(s): she/her/hers
Home country: Pakistan and United Arab Emirates
Program: MPH, Epidemiology

Why I chose Dornsife: Drexel is home to one of the best public health programs in the country. It was an easy decision to choose Dornsife. What really attracted me to the program was the opportunity to learn and excel in a wide variety of courses and skillsets, and the school’s emphasis on real-life practical experiences in public health. Dornsife works to promote health equity and I am honored to be a part.

Goals as an IDEA fellow: Very few programs can boldly claim to both acknowledge and tackle racism in academia. I aim to play an active role in promoting academic success of diverse scholars and dismantling racism in the world of health and education. I hope that this fellowship works toward eliminating health inequities in our society and set the framework for future projects looking to transform academia for all.

Deiriai Myers

Deiriai Myers headshot

Pronoun(s): she/her
Home country: St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Program: MPH, Epidemiology

Why I chose Dornsife: I was excited to choose Dornsife to pursue my MPH mainly because of the school’s commitment to health as a human right. I was further inspired by the school’s regular collaboration and engagement with community organizations. The diverse academic backgrounds of faculty members offer an opportunity to continue expanding my knowledge in public health and increase my professional network in this field.

Goals as an IDEA fellow: I will be working within a research team, led by Dr. Gina Lovasi, and we will be responding to the need for a shared resource for neighborhood measurements. Specifically, I will be drafting an online tool to guide researchers and other public health professionals on the use of metrics for racial segregation and spatial social polarization. I look forward to learning more about these measurements of social determinants of health as we in public health continue to work on eliminating health disparities across different socioeconomic groups.

Vidya Patil

Vidya Patil headshot

Pronoun(s): she/her/hers
Hometown: Maharashtra, India
Program: MPH, Epidemiology

Why I chose Dornsife: Dornsife School of Public Health provides an equal opportunity to all students despite of their nationality, gender, and color, which inspires me to be a part of this program. The renowned staff committee at DSPH is one of the major reasons to choose Drexel. Drexel has an excellent academic reputation and degree program that is designed in such a way that it will help students to cultivate into public health professionals that would make an impact and tackle upcoming public health challenges in the United States and around the world.

Goals as an IDEA fellow: The IDEA fellowship has provided me with an opportunity to connect with the entire DSPH faculty and be a part of interdisciplinary research. Being an International student, I truly understand and feel the meaning of Inclusiveness. My goal in this fellowship work is to inculcate various aspects of Inclusiveness and Antiracism policies that would benefit the DSPH community. I feel honoured to be mentored by Dr. Moore and Dr. Bellamy in our research project.

Janel Rodriguez

Janel Rodriguez headshot

Pronoun(s): she/her
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Program: BA, Global Public Health

Why I chose Dornsife: Dornsife provides an interdisciplinary approach to public health with a focus on hands-on experiential learning that I have always been searching for. I can’t stay in a classroom or a zoom call all day, I need to be on the ground creating, researching, and applying this knowledge to real-world experiences. I chose Dornsife for its forward-thinking curriculum and strong commitment to health equity and health as a human right.

Goals as an IDEA fellow: I plan to work with The Ubuntu Center on Racism, Global Movements, and Population Health Equity to accelerate the center’s goals of antiracist solutions and health equity for all. Analyzing systemic racism and health inequity through storytelling is one of my main research interests. To put this theory into praxis, I intend to use Dornsife’s IDEA Fellowship opportunity to gain health research experience and connect with the diverse and knowledgeable faculty that Dornsife has to offer.


2021-22 IDEA Fellows

Demi Adefarati

Demi Adefarati headshot

Pronoun(s): she/her/hers
Hometown: Collegeville, PA
Program: MPH, Health Management and Policy (minor in Maternal Child Health)

Why I chose Dornsife: I chose Dornsife because it is the best program within the Southeastern, PA, area. Furthermore, I was immediately drawn to the research efforts of many Dornsife faculty members. So far, the decision has been great. I have had the opportunity to engage with staff and faculty members one-on-one despite the proliferation of COVID-19. Furthermore, I have been able to begin attaining my 2020-2021 goals, helping improve the health outcomes of individuals living within Philadelphia and its surrounding communities.

Goals as an IDEA fellow: I want to continue helping support the IDEA work of Dornsife staff and faculty members through student engagement, community involvement, and partnering with specific Drexel Centers. Additionally, I want to expand upon my current ILE work focusing on marginalized populations within maternal child health in Philadelphia. Overall, I look forward to using my Fellowship position to continue sparking necessary conversations focused on racial and ethnic equity within public health and other related disciplines.

Aryana Simpson

Aryana Simpson headshot
Pronoun(s): she/her/hers
Hometown: York, PA
Program: MPH, Epidemiology

Why I chose Dornsife: I chose Dornsife School of Public Health not only due to its notable reputation but because it offers numerous professional, networking, and volunteer opportunities. Throughout the Dornsife school itself, as well as through the Philadelphia community. Dornsife faculty are experienced professionals, who are passionate about public health, and conduct research in my areas of interest including; urban health, mental health, and health disparities.

Goals as an IDEA fellow: My goal as an IDEA Fellow is to create a more inclusive environment for students and faculty of color. This includes continuing the work to increase institutional support measures, representation of the work and achievements of students and faculty of color. In addition to working alongside the other IDEA Fellows to implement all components of the IDEA school-wide action plan.

Cecirahim Sesay

Cecirahim Sesay headshot

Pronoun(s): she/her/hers
Hometown: Sacramento, CA
Program: MPH, Epidemiology

Why I chose Dornsife: I chose Dornsife because the mission of the school was aligned with my own. This school has established relationships with local organizations and a strong culture of giving back to its community. Additionally, the vigorous curriculum and noteworthy faculty, along with the abundance of opportunities for career growth, make Dornsife the best school for me to establish my goals as a public health professional.

Goals as an IDEA fellow: My main focus is to improve diversity and inclusion in academia and research. I would like to contribute to the improvement of ethical research practices and transformative approaches that seek to benefit the population being studied. I would also like to help in the diversification of faculty and resources at Dornsife, through involvement in the hiring and vetting process, so that the University’s goal of inclusivity and anti-racism is achieved.


2020-21 IDEA Fellows

Demi Adefarati

Demi Adefarati headshot

Pronoun(s): she/her/hers
Hometown: Collegeville, PA
Program: MPH, Health Management and Policy

Why I chose Dornsife: I chose Dornsife due to its location within Philadelphia. Growing up in Southeastern PA, I have a vested interest in the health outcomes of individuals living within Philadelphia, and its surrounding communities.

Focus as an IDEA fellow: My areas of focus are centered on increasing institutional support measures for Black students and other students of color within Dornsife. Some of these measures include career building resources & tools, strengthening interpersonal connections through different initiatives, leadership engagement opportunities, and highlighting different research & project efforts conducted by students of color.

Patrice Farquharson

Patrice Farquharson headshot

Pronoun(s): she/her/hers
Hometown: Moorestown, NJ
Program: MPH, Community Health and Prevention

Why I chose Dornsife: While looking at public health programs in the Philadelphia area, it was Dornsife’s reputation that initially caught my attention. I wanted to attend a school that would allow me to learn more about what impacts health outcomes and fuels health disparities. After meeting with the previous director of admissions, I realized Dornsife would be a good place for me to get my degree compared to other programs in the area. Working with faculty, students and staff has only solidified this after I started the program and in recently completing it.

Focus as an IDEA fellow: I am learning that I have a passion for evidence-based research. Entering into this fellowship I was on a team that crafted and disseminated the climate survey at Dornsife. Currently, I am working on the planning and development of the Center on Racism and Health. Also, I am working with the other fellows on the departmental and school-wide efforts around IDEA initiatives.

Maya Stallings

Maya Stallings headshot

Pronoun(s): she/her
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Program: MPH, Epidemiology

Why I chose Dornsife: I chose Dornsife because I wanted to stay in Philadelphia and remain connected to the work I started in AmeriCorps, where I have had the opportunity to build partnerships with many community leaders who have done amazing work in the lives of the students and families in Philadelphia. Dornsife has the unique position of training the next generation of public health leaders while having deep roots in the community.

Focus as an IDEA fellow: My focus during this fellowship will be on course restructuring and curriculum and on the hiring processes of faculty.

Laneisha (Laney) Sullivan

Laneisha Sullivan headshot

Pronoun(s): she/her/hers
Hometown: Paterson, NJ
Program: MPH, Health Management and Policy

Why I chose Dornsife: As a Drexel alumna, I’m well aware of the opportunities and networking connections this university has to offer. I chose to continue my graduate studies at Drexel with the Dornsife School of Public Health because the program holds national weight. Faculty members are comprised of some of Philadelphia’s most influential professionals with solid backgrounds in my areas of interest such as clinical health, policy, and health management. Furthermore, faculty and administration actively listen and dedicate time and resources to meet the needs of students, hence my position on this IDEA team. For me, it was important for me to choose a program where I felt my voice would be heard as well as my academic needs met.

Focus as an IDEA fellow: For my fellowship, I will focus my efforts on the hiring processes of faculty and providing faculty support/resources. Working alongside my dedicated team, we strive to support its 2020 anti-racism action plan. Our efforts will further expand our school’s endeavors in promoting a strong sense of culture, diversity, inclusion, and equity in all current and future academic/extra-curricular activities.