When Huda Falous applied to the University of South Carolina, she knew she wanted an environment that provided inclusive experiences that allow students to be their true selves.
A Greenville native, she was drawn to the prospect of studying and living in the heart of the Palmetto State, alongside the State House and multiple nonprofit agencies that specialize in fighting for and promoting inclusivity.
Now a senior, Falous was recognized for her commitment to advocacy, community engagement and research with the Arnold School of Public Health’s 2023 Undergraduate Student Award in Excellence in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
The award recognizes students who have made exceptional contributions to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion through research, practice, community engagement, teaching and advocacy in public health or health science fields.
For Falous, that recognition is consistent with her favorite part of being a USC student — the combination of education and experiences that have provided a holistic view of what her future as a public health practitioner will hold.
The importance of connection
An active member of several campus organizations, she volunteers as a USC mental health ambassador, working to reduce mental health stigmas on campus.
“I present to different student organizations on various effective coping mechanisms and available resources on campus,” she says. “By educating students on how to recognize and identify distress among their peers, they learn how to address situations in a healthy and respectful manner.”
Falous also presents new ideas and information to students about diversity. As a peer educator in the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, she’s able to reach a wide audience, specializing in topics related to LGBTQ+ issues and inclusive language.
During the fall 2023 semester, she participated in the Honors College’s Washington semester program and learned more about policy pertaining to public health.
“I’ve been able to network like never before and gain insight from notable figures,” she says. “The most valuable thing I’ve learned is that the most accomplished and successful individuals take it day by day.”
Going from the classroom to a political environment reinforced her belief that promoting diversity is not only a personal commitment but a vital aspect of creating positive and impactful change within the realm of public health.
“Diversity, equity and inclusion are critical in the public health field to address health disparities among diverse populations,” Falous says. “We need to ensure that interventions are tailored to meet the unique needs of different communities.”
She also notes that focusing on these topics promotes cultural competence, which fosters better communication and understanding between health care providers and patients from a variety of backgrounds.
A passion-fueled future
Receiving the Arnold School of Public Health’s diversity award was a humbling and gratifying experience for Falous.
“This award inspires me to continue championing diversity in my work and academic pursuits,” she says. “It affirms the importance of fostering an environment that values and celebrates diversity within the field of public health.”
Motivated by a friend’s life-altering experience to secure accessible health care, Falous plans to continue her education by pursuing a joint medical-law degree after completing her bachelor's in 2024.
“His experience ultimately led me to educate myself on every aspect of the policies that played a part,” Falous says. “Whether it is working with health care accessibility, prison reform or addressing homelessness, I chose public health because of my passion for working with disadvantaged communities.”