Hello Everyone! I am Aparna Ramani (she/her/hers), an Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s student studying Health Policy and Management at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health, and am honored to be part of the 2021 Community Research Fellowship (CRF) cohort this summer!
My interests in health policy are specifically rooted in women’s advocacy, reproductive health, and socio-medical research, all of which I have been able to explore through my academic and experiential endeavors within the Pitt and Pittsburgh communities. As an undergraduate Natural Sciences and Sociology double major with a Certificate in Global Health, my diverse coursework spanning from social research design to global health dynamics has allowed me to develop community-conscious approaches to data analysis and public health programming. Throughout my undergraduate career, I have also actively conducted research at the Magee-Womens Research Institute (MWRI) on provider-patient communication among the pregnant, substance-using population to broaden the current scope of substance use intervention planning (under direction of Dr. Judy Chang). In addition to my academic and professional endeavors, I am a representative of the Pitt Student Health Advisory Board, founder of a women’s advocacy organization “empowHER,” and a member of “Avaaz,” a South-Asian acapella team on campus. In my free time, I love singing/songwriting, cooking, and exploring new coffee shops in the Pittsburgh area!
This summer, I will be expanding upon my ongoing work at MWRI in mixed-methods analysis of social stressors/social support associated with the disclosure of substance use during pregnancy. Throughout my CRF experience, I plan to couple my maternal health endeavors within the clinical sector, with those in the community. By partnering with the Pittsburgh Human Rights City Alliance (HRCA), I plan to analyze and disperse findings of the Annual UN Review of the U.S. human rights record to local officials through presentations and reports, to further understand where human rights challenges lie within Pittsburgh from race- and health-oriented perspectives. Boosting human rights lies within the core of improving substance-use related health outcomes, especially for the pregnant population. I aspire to cultivate conversations within the intersection of medical and governmental settings that can last far past this summer, contributing to the development of sustainable medical interventions, equitable access to healthcare, and reducing maternal morbidity/mortality rates which disproportionately affect Black mothers within the Pittsburgh area.
Currently, my professional goals are to pursue higher education in reproductive health policy and expand health access and delivery for marginalized communities locally, nationally, and globally. The CRF allows me to broaden my own knowledge and experience within public health research methodology, while contributing to local health reform. I plan to apply skills in communication, advocacy, and cultural sensitivity gained through this experience into my ongoing academic and professional learning opportunities, so I can grow and develop inclusive approaches to my own research interests. While this will be my first experience employing a policy approach to community health research, I find that my project relates to my previous experiences through its emphasis on health activism, as healthcare is a fundamental human right which must be accurately and equitably enforced in medicine and policy.
I wanted to thank Pitt Honors, MWRI, and HRCA for providing me with this wonderful opportunity! Keep an eye out for future posts to follow my experience throughout this summer!