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Arnold School of Public Health

Third generation UofSC graduate to attend USC School of Medicine Greenville after completing bachelor’s degree in public health

December 20, 2017 | Erin Bluvas, 

Madison Stewart grew up knowing that UofSC would likely be her home one day—just like it was for her parents and grandfather. During high school, she became particularly interested in the Honors College and felt right at home when she toured the campus.

With plans to pursue a medical degree, Stewart fell in love with public health during her freshmen year after taking instructor Charlotte Galloway’s introduction to public health course. “Dr. Galloway is one of the reasons I got so excited about this field of study,” Stewart says. “She helped me tremendously on my path to medicine and sat down with me on multiple occasions to talk about what I should be doing in order to fulfill my dream of getting into medical school.”

The Easley, South Carolina, native’s path has moved more quickly than most. She is graduating a semester early and received early acceptance to USC School of Medicine Greenville, which she will attend next fall. During the interim, she will gain experience in the medical field as a full-time medical scribe at Internal Medicine Associates in Greenville.

Long term, Stewart plans to pursue a career in cardiology. “I believe that this particular specialty will allow me use my lifestyle medicine concentration to its fullest extent and help my patients live happier and healthier lives,” she says.

She developed the basis for this perspective through her experiences with the Arnold School and the Honors College as well as her many extracurricular activities. During her spring break of freshman and sophomore year, she traveled with the Honors College to Belize to provide public health and medical services. These trips heightened her understanding of the importance of early intervention and education—central public health tenants—within healthcare.

“Our doctors were often the first point of medical contact for patients with undiagnosed health issues and problems related to lifestyle and poor sanitation,” she says. “Going into patients’ homes made me aware of the tremendous lack of basic necessities, such as clean water, indoor plumbing and transportation and helped me to see the importance of understanding circumstances when providing care.”

Locally, Stewart served as a research assistant for psychology professor Dawn Wilson’s Project FIT and Project HEART throughout her undergraduate years. “Dr. Wilson has opened so many doors for me in the public health field and has given me so much encouragement,” Stewart says of her mentor. “I have learned so much about public health policy from her and how much research can benefit a population.”

Through this experience she had the opportunity to work with families in the Columbia community who have obesity and hypertension and desire education and intervention in hopes of improving their health. Using an Honors College Exploration Grant, Stewart has also studied the effects of obesity, blood pressure, cortisol levels, and perceptions of neighborhood safety on health outcomes in African Americans. She plans to build on this knowledge during medical school.

Stewart is also involved in numerous volunteer activities. She has served with USC Student Government, USC Student United Way, United Way of the Midlands, Palmetto Health Richland Hospital, Palmetto Health Baptist Hospital, NewSpring Church, Christian Education Ministries, Pre-Professional Honor Societies and Pi Beta Phi Fraternity.

“Get involved in a project where you can see public health practices being put into action and making a difference in the community,” Stewart advises other public health students. “I saw this not only through my research position but also through the mission trips that I went on through the Honors College. These experiences got me excited about my major and helped me to become passionate about being a public health professional. As a physician, I know that I will use my public health knowledge on a daily basis when asking patients about their background, where they live, what their dietary habits are, etc. and know that I will incorporate what I learned as undergraduate to come up with a treatment plan for my patients.”

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