Let's get to know Jade...
Hometown: Marlborough, Connecticut and East Legon, Ghana
Major/Minor: Sociology - Health & Medicine
What inspired you to major in Sociology?
Interestingly enough, I began my college career as a biomedical engineering major. This was with the hopes of one day designing cost effective medical devices for developing nations. But I soon realized that I was far more interested in the social barriers and inequities surrounding this issue than the technical and mechanical aspects. I had taken an intro to sociology class my freshman year and I remember being so amazed in lecture. The idea of "drawing the curtain back" behind any given social phenomenon made a lasting impact on me. At the beginning of my junior year I did an internal college transfer into LSA, and when trying to figure out what was next for me, the sociology of health and medicine major was just perfect! It combined both my passions for public health and social inequality! Although changing my major "so late" was scary, it was the best decision I've ever made!
What classes have you most enjoyed? Why?
I have enjoyed every sociology class I've taken so far but I really loved my intro class with Prof Terry McGinn! There was a period we started discussing structural inequality, race and the social determinants of health and I was so blown away by the lecture content I actually looked around the room to see if other students were as amazed as I was. I also loved SOC 475 (Health, Medicine, and Society). It was my first medical sociology class and completely changed the way I define and think about what it means to be “healthy” and the American medical system as a whole.
What do you hope to do after graduating from Michigan?
I want to get my Masters in Public Health, with a specialization/focus in Global Health Policy. My dream profession would be working alongside developing nations to create strong healthcare systems. I spent some of my childhood growing up in Ghana (I still frequently visit) so I know firsthand that strong healthcare systems are more than possible in many low/middle income countries but economic inequality deeply stratifies access to proper healthcare.
Have you participated in an internship or research experience?
I am an academic scholar in the Global Health Design Initiative Program (GHDI). This past summer, I was going to be in Ghana shadowing in the Ob/Gyn department at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, learning and working on solutions for engineering design problems through direct interactions with healthcare providers. Instead, I spent the summer working on various virtual global health projects, specifically COVID-19 related, through GHDI. My favorite was a collaboration with students from UMich and the University of Ghana to find cost effective designs of PPE needed in low resource settings in both Michigan and Ghana.
How has Sociology helped you to understand pandemics the U.S. is currently facing: COVID-19 and/or systemic racism?
I wish everybody was required to take a sociology course! Sociology is at the core of the pandemics the U.S is currently facing. As a sociology major, I have found my frustration aimed at the structural powers that have failed to effectively combat the coronavirus pandemic and continue to perpetuate inequality and injustice. Using knowledge from my sociology classes, I actually wrote an article for Michigan Daily discussing the racial disparities in COVID-19 infection and mortality rates. I could go on and on about how sociology has helped me understand these pandemics and how the two are closely tied together. Instead, I can sum up this understanding with a quote from my article “ the intersection of different social identities can bring about unique advantages or disadvantages for several populations within the U.S.” Understanding sociology, or how society functions, enables one to understand various social institutions in this country, including social, economic and racial inequalities.
Do you have advice for prospective Soc majors in this moment?
My advice, as cliche as it is, is to follow your passion! Follow your intellectual curiosity and urge yourself to apply a sociological lens to everything you see. Reexamine the way you think and challenge yourself to see life from a different perspective. In this moment, you may not single handedly change the world and eradicate injustice, but you can certainly make an impact on those around you!