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Claflin Students Win Clyburn Scholarships to Earn B.S. and MPH Through 4+1 Dual Degree Program

May 22, 2020 | Erin Bluvas,

Emersen Frazier and Jamal Walker, rising seniors at Claflin University, have been selected to receive the James E. and Emily E. Clyburn Public Health Endowed Scholarship Award. They will use the scholarships to complete the 4+1 Dual Degree Program, where students earn a bachelor’s degree from Claflin University and a Master of Public Health  from the Arnold School of Public Health in a five-year period.

“The current public health crisis has put a spotlight on the health disparities that exist throughout this nation. It has always been the goal of this scholarship to assist in the reduction of these inequities and to improve access to affordable health care for all South Carolinians,” said Congressman Clyburn. “I commend presidents Caslen and Warmack for their commitment to this program’s success and would like to personally congratulate this year’s recipients, Ms. Frazier and Mr. Walker.”  

Created in 2005 in partnership between the University of South Carolina and Claflin University, the 4+1 Dual Degree Program is designed to increase the number of professionals and researchers from minority and medically underserved populations who are trained in public health, particularly health disparities. Over the years, the program has undergone various changes with the universities reaffirming their dedication to it in the fall of 2019 when the institutions’ new presidents (Bob Caslen, UofSC; Dwuan Warmack, Claflin) met to discuss their commitment to the program’s success through their inter-institutional partnership.

Since 2013, Chair and Professor of Biology Gloria McCutcheon  has served as the primary point of contact for the program on behalf of Claflin University, guiding students through the undergraduate portion of the program. By teaching public health at Claflin, she not only opens the doors for numerous career opportunities, but she is able to enhance students’ interest in science to increase and expand the biomedical and public health workforce to include diverse people and views.  

“The 4+1 program is yet another way to engage the gifted students at Claflin University in public health,” says McCutcheon, who is an avid supporter of students across the university who express an interest in public health and encourages them to study both chronic disease prevention and community health promotion. “This is certainly yet another way that Congressman Clyburn and the late Mrs. Emily Clyburn have made a significant impact on health in our communities. We are so excited that two of our students will begin the program this summer at UofSC and return to Claflin to complete their senior year while continuing with the Master of Public Health Program at UofSC in the Arnold School of Public Health.”

Health services policy and management  Distinguished Professor Emerita Saundra Glover currently represents UofSC in the partnership. During her many years as a faculty member at the Arnold School, Glover has played a long-term role in the School’s relationship  with the office of Congressman Clyburn  and is a champion for the 4+1 partnership between UofSC and Claflin University.

“To say that I am excited about the renewed commitment to the 4+1 program is an understatement,” says Glover. “The recipients of the first James E. and Emily E. Clyburn Public Health Endowed Scholarship are bright stars for the future of public health in addressing health disparities. That these disparities came to the forefront yet again in how COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations in our country speaks to the importance of increasing the number of underrepresented minority students in the field of health disparities research and why Congressman Clyburn has remained steadfast in his support of research training and education to address these disparities. This endowed scholarship is just one more way for Congressman Clyburn to not ‘just talk about the problems of South Carolina but do something about them.’”

The James E. and Emily E. Clyburn Public Health Endowed Scholarship Fund was established a decade ago when the Clyburns gifted $100,000 to the University of South Carolina Educational Foundation. The Fund reflects the Congressman’s career-long dedication to addressing health disparities in the state of South Carolina and his service as a leading proponent for healthcare reform at the national level.

A 2020-2021 recipient of this merit-based scholarship, Frazier is planning a career in health law. The Topeka, Kansas, native has always been interested in public health – it was just a matter of which area. She considered nutrition, health law, education, policy and community outreach and discovered a desire to educate friends and family on the importance of taking care of themselves through their individual behaviors.

“When I learned that health disparities can also result from institutional failures, I wanted to be an advocate at an even higher level,” Frazier says. “The more I learn about public health, the more I realize that its impact cannot be ignored – it is a part of every single aspect in all of our lives. My passion for this movement has urged me to become the advocate and change agent that I always wanted to see.”

Through the 4+1 program, the Honors College student will complete a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science (Minor in Health) from Claflin University and a Master of Public Health in Health Services Policy and Management from UofSC before pursuing a law degree. Her goal is to practice law as an attorney and then work in hospital administration or with a nonprofit organization focusing on community health programming.

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