May 5, 2023 | Erin Bluvas, firstname.lastname@example.org
“My decision to attend USC was pretty much set since I was born,” says Taylor Williams, whose mother is a two-time alumna of the university. “I also appreciated that South Carolina offered an abundance of resources, clubs, and multicultural organizations and outreach for its students, which made it stand out a lot for me in my decision process.”
By attending college in her hometown, Williams skipped the learning curve of adjusting to a new city and was able to immerse herself in the USC experience from the start. With plans to become a physician associate, she combed through the many undergraduate programs of study available. She found the perfect fit in public health, which offers both the science and math courses required to enter into medicine as well as the essential understanding of global/community health, psychology, physical activity, leadership and other areas provided by humanities and social science courses.
This comprehensive curriculum enabled Williams to discover her passion for addressing Black maternal mortality, including how policy change and community-wide interventions can improve health outcomes for these women and their children. Over the past four years, she has explored various aspects of this public health crisis through her work and service with various groups.
As a Black woman, this research on this critical topic has been such a worthwhile part of my undergraduate journey, and I hope that my efforts alongside the efforts of so many other women end this crisis for good.
At the Arnold School, Williams joined the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Leadership, Education, and Advancement in Undergraduate Pathways (LEAP) Program, which provides interdisciplinary training for students from underserved or racially and ethnically under-represented backgrounds. In addition to guidance provided by LEAP, Williams found mentors in Arnold School clinical associate professors Sara Corwin and Lee Pearson.
“Dr. Corwin has poured into me as both a student and an individual and has truly changed my life. Her passion for public health and for training the next generation of practitioners is so evident, and I know I will succeed in my future career through everything that she has instilled in me,” Williams says. “Dr. Pearson has shaped my journey as a public health practitioner and leader through his Public Health Leadership course, which was my favorite class. The lessons I learned from both him and local public health leaders will continue to impact me in the future.”
For the broader USC student population, Williams served as president for the Minority Association of Pre-Health Students and Special Events Chair in the Black Honors Caucus. The Honors College Ambassador also participated in the Physicians’ Assistant Collaborative Training Program at the School of Medicine Columbia and gained clinical experience off campus at a local family medicine clinic. Her honors senior thesis examined the impact of Medicaid expansion in addressing Black maternal disparities, specifically its implications for South Carolina.
“Through this research, I have been able to connect my public health knowledge regarding social determinants of health and health outcomes to historical transgressions and decades of injustice that contribute to Black maternal disparities today as well as gain a greater understanding on comprehensive policy changes that can be the leading drivers in improving these inequities,” Williams says. “As a Black woman, this research on this critical topic has been such a worthwhile part of my undergraduate journey, and I hope that my efforts alongside the efforts of so many other women end this crisis for good.”