Darius Moore is closely watching the travel restrictions in the Dominican Republic.

The country currently remains closed to travelers coming from the United States, but it could begin relaxing restrictions on travel by mid-summer, as vaccination improves COVID-19 outcomes.

It would be perfect timing for Moore — winner of the $25,000 Raoul Wallenberg Fellowship Award for 2021 — to accomplish an independent project of learning or exploration anywhere in the world during the year after graduation. He seeks to investigate the impacts of intersectional stigma on health care access among minoritized groups in the Dominican Republic.

“I plan on pursuing a career in global health care, specifically working at the intersection between medicine and public health,” said Moore, an LSA senior who plans to apply to medical school after the fellowship.

“As a child, I was inspired by my mother’s career as a nurse and the insight that I gained from hearing about her work. Good health is a desire that connects all humans because it allows us to engage with our society and fulfill our personal goals.”

Double majoring in Spanish and biology, health & society, Moore said working in health care has always seemed like the best fit for him for many reasons. It not only requires a unique level of interdisciplinary skills but also “allows you to make a significant difference in the lives of community members by helping them to better understand and maintain their health.”

“The tools and insight that you share with your patients are invaluable and given the number of health care disparities that impact minoritized groups and communities, working as a physician is the best way for me to combine my interests and help those who need it the most,” he said.

As of now, Moore is planning to start working on his Wallenberg Fellowship project in August, hoping to be able to conduct his research in the Dominican Republic.

"My in-country sponsor has informed me that at least 50 percent of the DR’s population should be vaccinated by then,” Moore said. “If international travel is still not possible, I will be conducting my project domestically. I am looking at partnering with clinics in Chicago, New York City or Detroit, but nothing has been decided for sure yet.”

Moore’s project is intended to be a learning experience aimed at enriching his personal and professional development across three key areas: gaining more insight into how intersectional stigma functions outside of the sociocultural and political framework of the United States; gaining a better understanding of how his own intersectional identities will impact his ability to navigate different societies; and to work in health care settings outside of the country.

Moore also wants to learn how to construct effective health-promotion programs that engage community members and are tailored to the true needs and sociocultural and political frameworks of the community.

“My project will focus on the health care experiences and health outcomes of several minoritized groups, like Haitians, Afro-descendant Dominicans and individuals living with human immunodeficiency virus, for example,” he said. “These groups were chosen because in the DR, individuals from these communities are oftentimes socioeconomically disadvantaged and have few, if any, legal protections against discrimination. Moreover, individuals living with HIV sometimes require specialized medical care that may not be available at all health care centers, creating deficits in their clinical care.”

Henry Dyson, director of the U-M Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships, said Moore’s proposal was selected because of his detailed planning, the depth of his engagement with the local community, the contributions his year will make to his future goals, and the ideals of the Wallenberg legacy.

“Darius’ cultural immersion working with marginalized populations through La Clinica de Familia will be the practical completion to his Michigan education, in the spirit of Raoul Wallenberg’s travels after leaving Ann Arbor,” Dyson said. “He is in close contact with La Clinica de Familia monitoring the situation in La Romana. We hope that circumstances there improve enough for him to be able to begin his work and inspire future students to make applying for the Wallenberg Fellowship one of their goals for their time at Michigan. It is truly a unique opportunity for our students.”

The fellowship honors Raoul Wallenberg, one of U-M’s most illustrious graduates. As a diplomat during World War II, he helped save the lives of tens of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust.

"Looking into this fellowship and learning more about the legacy of Raoul Wallenberg, I really resonated with the idea of lifelong learning, making new connections with others unlike myself, and challenging myself to become the best version of myself possible,” Moore said. “I truly believe that this fellowship will be a transformative experience for me in more ways than one and I am excited to embark on this journey.”


Originally published in the Univeristy Record on March 31, 2021 [Link].