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DaShaunda D. H. Taylor [View Image]
Department: Division of Epidemiology
I earned my Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree from Hood College in Frederick, Maryland with majors in biology and psychology in 2011. From an early age, I was fascinated by fetal development and I was excited to receive the opportunity to be an intern at VCU in an obstetrics and gynecology laboratory during college. This is where I first learned about public health and health disparities research. After completing my bachelor’s degree, I was offered a position in that same laboratory and worked on genetics-focused maternal and child health research for two years. Inspired by my experience, I decided to pursue a degree in public health and obtained my Master of Public Health (MPH) degree with a concentration in epidemiology from the joint Graduate Program in Public Health at Eastern Virginia Medical School and Old Dominion University. Immediately following my graduate training, I gained experience as a health educator, teaching assistant, and research associate. After working in a consulting capacity as a research associate, I decided that I wanted to direct all of my energy into my principal interest in maternal and child health epidemiology (MCHE). I knew that obtaining a doctorate would allow me to direct my own research and focus on my interests. My research interests include perinatal health, maternal morbidity and mortality prevention, school readiness, minority health, and health disparities.
VCU is a good fit for my needs and interests for several reasons. There is an established MCHE concentration in the program and faculty are committed to student success. The small program size aligns with my desired style of learning and there are several applied components to the program (e.g., experiential learning through grant writing and teaching) that contribute to professional development and interactive learning. The interview process confirmed my initial feelings and I’ve had continual support from faculty, staff, and other students since my arrival. I look forward to enhancing my skills and knowledge in MCHE, being a strong, independent researcher and community resource for MCHE-related issues, and training future public health professionals.