Dornsife Health Policy Student Awarded David Winston Scholarship
June 21, 2021
Kasia Kujawski, an MPH student in the department of Health Management and Policy at the Dornsife School of Public Health (DSPH) and Dornsife Public Health Fellow 2020, was awarded the David Winston Health Policy Scholarship on May 24, 2021. The highly competitive scholarship recognizes excellence and achievement for students in master’s degree programs in health administration, health policy, and public health by providing $10K per year.
“When I received the news about getting the award, I cried a little,” said Kujawski. “Pursuing a public health education during a pandemic has been both validating and challenging. This scholarship is a testament to my resilience and hard work in health policy over the last year.”
This award will help Kujawski to fund her Master’s in Public Health (MPH) degree at DSPH and gain exposure to more opportunities to excel in the field of public health policy. “As the first person in my family to graduate from college in the United States and then pursue an advanced degree, navigating higher education has presented many obstacles, and this scholarship will certainly help me overcome some of those hurdles,” she said.
Kujawski’s research interests lay in examining health disparities and understanding how policy can reduce those disparities and improve health outcomes in marginalized populations. Kujawski is also interested in how health outcomes are impacted by public policy and identifying innovative policy solutions to solve food insecurity and poverty, such as cash transfer, the transformation of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and defunding the police.
This past academic year, Kujawski worked as a policy analyst at the Center for Hunger-Free Communities at DSPH with the guidance of her faculty mentor Mariana Chilton, PhD, MPH, professor of health management and policy at DSPH, who also directs the center. In this role, she helped contribute to ongoing research that examines the relationship between systemic racism and food insecurity. Kujawski will continue her work at the center during the 2021-2022 academic year.
Through the summer, Kujawski is working on completing her Applied Practical Experience (APE) as a research assistant with the University of Pennsylvania Health System. There she is working with a research team that is evaluating the rollout of Plans of Safe Care in Philadelphia, which is a new policy that aims to support substance-exposed families post-delivery. Additionally, she is keeping busy as a public policy intern at Novo Nordisk over the summer.
Prior to her time at DSPH, Kujawski, who is originally from Wheaton, Illinois, studied public relations and advertising at DePaul University. After completing her undergraduate degree, she worked in health public relations and supported several pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in their corporate communication and consumer marketing efforts, including initiatives to combat COVID-19.
After several years in the healthcare communications space, Kujawski felt herself becoming more and more drawn to the public health policy field and felt an MPH degree would open doors. “I knew that an MPH would set me up to get more involved in the field,” she said.
When it came time to choose a graduate program, DSPH stood out to Kujawski because of the critical practice component of the curriculum. “My undergraduate institution heavily emphasized gaining practical experience, so seeing those same values in Dornsife was really appealing to me,” she said.
In her future career, Kujawski will pursue a policy analyst position at a city health department or in industry. Following graduation, she hopes to work on the East Coast or back home in Chicago.