Marie Vera is a non-traditional student from Dayton Ohio, seeking her masters of science in Global Health from the School of Professional Studies at Northwestern University in Evanston Illinois. Prior to attending Northwestern, Marie received a graduate certificate in medical education from Southern Illinois University’s MEDPREP program in Carbondale, IL. While a student in MEDPREP, Marie participated in many activities that benefited the local community.
She taught young, at-risk students with significant gaps in their education as a Mentor-Tutor of the YES Program for Family Advocacy Services. Her student base primarily consisted of bright African-American young men, who were in academic trouble for a variety of reasons. Marie helped them to become agents of their own learning by insisting on a certain code of behavior that promoted asking for help with math and science homework, as opposed to giving up because the homework was “too hard.” Marie stated that the study tables she held when her children were in grade school prepared her for this experience by driving home the concept of rule-making for the students. And each of her students could recite her study table’s 2 simple rules:
Unless asking Ms. Marie for help on a problem, we are to be quiet and focused on completing our homework.
If in doubt, refer to rule number 1.
Marie continued to teach at risk youth during the summer months in the Upward Bound program as well as in the Young Scholars program. Each program was dedicated to the teaching of math and science to at-risk youths, which empowered them to develop self-confidence, intellectual rigor, and a sense of humility acknowledging that, “the more we learn, the more we learn how much we have yet to learn.”
As the completion of the MEDPREP program neared in 2009, Marie left Carbondale to perform research at her undergraduate alma mater, Wright State University’s STREAM program. As a result of this experience, Marie generated a symposium research poster entitled, “The Association Among Income, Under-Insurance and Delayed Pediatric Health Care.”
After completing her research, Marie attended the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine with the goal of empowering patients to become their own health care advocates by making room for patients to gather information and make as informed a decision as possible as it regarded their bodies. While there, Marie proctored a discussion group that explored the medical ethics surrounding women’s reproductive medicine.
Marie did not complete medical school, however her desire to promote health education and to fight health care inequities never wavered. During the 2014 Ebola epidemic, Marie railed against the scare tactics and disinformation promulgated by popular outlets, demanding that her medical colleagues rigorously analyze projections of the spread of Ebola had it reached US soil. Her respectful dialogue with these acquaintances invariably included a demand for assessment of the myriad ways that comments conflated with fact, avoided the science of the disease and were, ultimately, thinly veiled attempts to enact government-sanctioned racism at our borders. This rejection of evidence-based medicine by those in the allied health fields is what led her to pursue her Master’s in Global Health, and it was no accident that Marie chose to participate in the Women’s Reproductive Health initiative in Puerto Escondido, with CFHI.
Marie was proud to participate in the initiative in Puerto Escondido stating that she was both honored and humbled by the experience. She further stated that, “Visiting Puerto with CFHI was humbling because I learned exactly how bad my Spanish was. But that did not deter me because I believe in being a lifelong learner! And I would not trade the experience for anything.”