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Arnold School of Public Health

Public health grad to attend UofSC School of Medicine Greenville in pursuit of equity in women’s health

April 26, 2021 | Erin Bluvas,

The daughter of a UofSC alumnus, Carson Collins spent some of her childhood on Interstate 26 – the highway connecting her hometown of Spartanburg with Carolina’s main campus in Columbia.  She had attended football games and felt at home at UofSC, but the academic opportunities were what really attracted her to Gamecock life.

The South Carolina Honors College (No. 1 in the nation among public universities) offered unique learning opportunities as part of a small community setting inside a larger university. Collins was determined to choose the best major to prepare her for a career in medicine, zeroing in on the Arnold School’s B.S. in Public Health program as the perfect foundation.

“I realized that public health incorporated everything that I was passionate about and was a great way for me to make medicine more relevant for me and my interests,” Collins says.

For the President’s List honoree, those interests included volunteering and mission work. It wasn’t until she began studying public health, however, that she understood she could integrate these activities with her passion for medicine.

I realized that public health incorporated everything that I was passionate about and was a great way for me to make medicine more relevant for me and my interests.

-Carson Collins, B.S. in Public Health 2021

“By studying disparities and learning about how to actively address them, I could become involved in the health of my community,” says Collins, who found a mentor in clinical associate professor Kara Montgomery, particularly in navigating the program and the medical school application process. “I could help people to become healthier through their lifestyle and access to healthcare services.”

Collins credits the field with helping her develop a broader perspective toward health – focusing on addressing lifestyle factors and prevention rather than solely on symptom relief and clinical outcomes. She also realized that combining public health and medicine would provide an optimal way to serve her community. 

During her undergraduate tenure, Collins developed interests in women’s, rural, and minority health. Outside the classroom, she gained research experience with a School of Medicine study related to reproductive endocrinology and IVF outcomes and the Medical University of South Carolina’s Rural Asthma Program through a non-pharmacological intervention for high school students.

As an intern with Fact Forward (previously known as the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy), Collins assisted with sexual and reproductive health education. Leveraging her minor in Spanish, she volunteered as a medical scribe for the Good Samaritan Clinic and explored minority health through her Honors College thesis. With health promotion, education, and behavior clinical assistant professor Edena Guimaraes directing the project, Collins studied the impact of medical interpreters, specifically cultural and lingual barriers in the context of Latina sexual and reproductive health.

She plans to learn more about these areas when she continues her studies this summer at the UofSC School of Medicine Greenville. Her long-term goal is to become a culturally competent obstetrician/gynecologist serving vulnerable populations in medically underserved areas.

“I am passionate about improving sexual and reproductive health because I believe it can have a large impact on your overall health as a woman,” Collins says. “As a provider, I want to work to bridge the gaps between different races, socioeconomic classes and communities so that everyone has an opportunity to receive equal and appropriate care.”

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