The Minority Student Caucus (MSC) advocates for issues of concern to students of color in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and promotes research and programs aimed at addressing public health issues that affect people of color. Membership is open to all students of color in the School and anyone else who is interested in supporting the Caucus’ mission.
Minority Student Caucus Statement on University Support for Mental Health
The Minority Student Caucus issues a statement on the overdue need for University support for mental health following the passing of UNC students this past weekend and throughout the semester. The statement also includes resources that students, faculty, and staff can access to help them through this difficult time.
Incoming and outgoing Minority Student Caucus co-presidents sign statement to Gillings community
To continue the dialogue at the Gillings School about racism and structural violence against Black people, the Minority Student Caucus issued this Statement in Response to Anti-Black Racism and Racialized Violence against Black Folx (PDF).
History and Aims
The Minority Student Caucus consists of all students of color in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health who wish to join. The Caucus was founded in the early 1970s as a vehicle for bringing the concerns of minority students to the attention of the School’s administration and for working to attract more students of color to the School. The Caucus founded the Minority Health Conference (MHC) in 1977 and has conducted it annually since then. The Caucus works with the school administration to advocate for the needs of students of color and MSC representatives currently serve on the Dean’s Council, the SPH Alumni Association and other committees throughout the Gillings School.
Minority Health Conference
Connect with us
Questions about the caucus? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
2022-2023 Executive Board
Co-President: Asia Carter
Asia Carter (she/her/hers) is a second-year MPH student in the Health Behavior department and is serving as the 2022-2023 MSC Co-President. She previously served as the Social Chair and is excited about this new leadership opportunity. Asia has a passion for advancing health equity and working to promote and diversify the public health workforce. Her research interests include community-based participatory research methods, qualitative research, racial and ethnic health inequities, and patient-provider communication. Asia is excited and privileged to be serving students of color, the Gillings community, and the larger community in this capacity to expand on the vision and mission of those that have contributed to the legacy of MSC in years prior.
Co-President: Kiara Tompkins
Kiara Tompkins (she/her/hers) is a second-year Health Behavior MPH student and serves as Co-President for the Minority Student Caucus. Last year, she participated in MSC’s token event, the Minority Health Conference, as the Evaluation Co-chair. She is excited and honored to work alongside Asia to provide BIPOC Gillings students a safe environment to foster connection, growth, and collaboration. Kiara is interested in health equity and reproductive justice, especially as it pertains to Black birthing individuals in the United States. Her research interests include qualitative research, program evaluation, and health literacy. Outside of Gillings, Kiara enjoys traveling, watching documentaries, and reading.
Secretary: Rami Darawsheh
Rami Darawsheh (he/him) is a Junior BSPH and Biology student in the Health Policy and Management department. He is excited about serving as the secretary for the executive board of the Minority Student Caucus (MSC) this year. Rami is passionate about combatting minority disparities in healthcare. His academic interests include global health, healthcare policy, and health equity. His research interests include cancer biology, pharmacology, and genetics. Rami hopes to work at the intersection of biological sciences and public health, researching basic science solutions to pertinent public health issues. Outside of school, Rami likes to watch basketball, spend time with friends, and cook.
Education and Community Action Co-Chair: Taya Westfield
Taya Westfield (she/her) is a second-year MPH student studying Health Behavior. She serves as the Education and Community Action Co-Chair for the Minority Student Caucus (MSC). Taya’s academic and educational interests include health equity, designing health communication materials, and learning about inclusive sexual and reproductive health. Through working alongside the MSC, she hopes to instill a sense of confidence in students with marginalized identities by highlighting their strengths and the unique perspectives they bring to both Gillings and the field of public health. Outside of Gillings, Taya enjoys thrifting, reading, and hanging out with her two cats, Samhain and Olivia.
Education and Community Action Co-Chair: Galilee Ambellu
Galilee Ambellu (she/her) is a BSPH student in the Health Policy and Management department. She is passionate about closing the opportunity gap through engaging in policy work and the education sector. Galilee is interested in various topics, including health equity, social justice, disability studies, narrative medicine, and health behavior. During her time as an Education and Community Action co-chair, she hopes to advocate for communities of color using both quantitative and qualitative measures. Galilee also believes that incorporating social medicine into the Minority Student Caucus’s programming will help explain the causation behind health inequities.
Taking Responsibility to Increase Access and Diversity (TRIAD) Co-Chair: Mykela Moore
Mykela Moore (She/her) is a 2nd year MPH Candidate in the Health Behavior concentration and is serving as Taking Responsibility to Increase Access and Diversity (TRIAD) Co-Chair for the 2022-2023 academic year. Mykela works as a Research Assistant with the UNC School of Medicine, Division of Hematology and works with a nonprofit called Empowered Birth Movement based in Germany. Mykela’s public health interests include community-based participatory research, and maternal and child health, with emphasis on Black maternal health disparities. In her role on the Minority Student Caucus, she is thrilled to connect and collaborate on ways to support incoming and current students of color to Gillings.
Taking Responsibility to Increase Access and Diversity (TRIAD) Co-Chair: Damion Williams
Damion Williams (he/him/his) is a senior in the BSPH Health Policy and Management program at the Gilling’s School of Global Public Health and serves as the Taking Responsibility to Increase Access and Diversity (TRIAD) Co-Chair for Minority Student Caucus. Damion has recently finished an internship at GSK where he learned more about the world of biopharmaceuticals and the strategies behind the scenes that lead to their access on the market. Post-graduation, Damion plans to serve in a role that will allow him the perfect vantage point into the intersection of healthcare and business. Naturally, he is ecstatic to serve as one of the TRIAD Co-Chairs this year where he hopes to ensure all Gilling’s students of color that they are where they are meant to be!
Treasurer: Steven Houang
Steven Houang (he/him) is a 5th year MSPH-PhD student in Health Behavior and is thrilled to serve as the MSC treasurer this year. His research interests are in reframing how we understand and dismantle biological and social interactions in health disparities, particularly in HIV, LGBTQ, and BIPOC health. He looks forward to supporting MSC’s efforts and collaborations this year to meet the needs of BIPOC students across all levels.
Social Chair: Alex Simpson
(Alex)andra Simpson (she/her/hers) is a second year MPH student in the maternal, child, and family health concentration serving as the 2022-2023 Social Chair for the Minority Student Caucus. She is interested in pregnancy-related issues, reproductive justice, doula care, and LGBTIA+ related issues. Outside of grad school, she enjoys dancing, trying new things, and spending time with her loved ones. In her role, she hopes to support students and plan fun events for them to get acclimated and build community!
Publicity Chair: Gisella Tellys Lie
Gisella Tellys Lie (She/They) is a second-year MPH student in the Health Behavior Concentration at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. She is serving as Publicity Chair for the Minority Student Caucus (MSC) for the 2022-2023 academic year. Prior to pursuing MPH degree, she worked as a general physician in her home country, Indonesia. Her research interests include social determinants of health, access to healthcare services, social justice, and sexual and reproductive health. In her role, she hopes to further foster safe environment for students of color at Gillings, especially for international students of color. Outside of school, she is a huge art enthusiast and can be found fangirling over BTS.
Minority Health Conference Co-Chair: Rhea Jayaswal
Rhea Jayaswal (she/her) is a senior BSPH student in the Nutrition department. Rhea served as the internal planning coordinator for the 43rd Minority Health Conference and is honored to serve as co-chair for the 44th conference. In this role, she is excited to build upon MHC’s tradition of fostering activism, social justice, and health equity. She is passionate about advancing healthy, sustainable, and equitable global food systems. From cooking meals at local community gardens to advocating for better national nutrition policies, she recognizes the urgency of centering equity at every step of the way.
Minority Health Conference Co-Chair: Callia Cox
Callia Cox (she/her) is a second-year Master of Public Health-Nutrition/Registered Dietitian Internship student in the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Her main interests include nutrition policy that prioritizes food system sustainability and municipal efforts to increase food access. She has made an effort to engage with the Gillings, Carolina, and Chapel Hill community during my master’s program. In addition to serving as the MHC Co-Chair, she is a member of the Nutrition Departments’ Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Committee where she assists in streamlining the department’s values and efforts to become more inclusive. Callia has also served as a student member of the Carolina Campus Dining Board to advocate for an equitable campus food system. In addition, she has had the joy of volunteering with the Carolina Hunger Initiative to provide nutrition education to families around the state. In Callia’s free time, she loves visiting coffee shops and museums around the Triangle.
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Patsy M. Poltson
Dr. Patsy M. Polston completed her MSPH (2011) and PhD (2015) from the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering with a minor in Health Behavior. As a student at Gillings, she had the honor of serving two-terms as the co-president of the Minority Student Caucus (MSC) (2009-2011) and as co-president of the Student Government (2014-2015). Currently, she serves as the faculty advisor for MSC and is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Behavior. Dr. Polston teaches an MPH core course that prepares students for “public health practice by introducing fundamental leadership skills necessary to advance equity and recognize and address bias in organizational settings.” Additionally, she teaches an undergraduate course focused on equity, ethics, and engagement for public health. She is passionate about mentoring students and committed to creating an inclusive learning environment where everyone can thrive. Her research interests explore the intersection of environmental and social determinants of health and involve understanding and addressing health inequities. In the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Polston served as co-investigator for two community-based projects centered on reducing COVID-19 disparities that have disproportionately placed communities of color at greater risks for morbidity and mortality.
September 25, 2023 Scientists from the Gillings School collaborated with N.C. public health experts on an issue of the North Carolina Medical Journal documenting common-sense community-based programs and people that are working to make firearm ownership safer in the state using evidence-based approaches to lower the probability of firearm-related injuries and deaths.