Shehrose Charania, Health Promotion and Health Equity

Where are you from, and what brought you to UW–Madison?

I am the daughter of Pakistani immigrants and a first-generation college student from Chicago. My parents never went to college, spoke limited English, and worked multiple jobs to keep a roof over our head and food on the table. While my parents never went to college, they still pushed me to gain an education. Consequently, I was selected on a full-tuition leadership scholarship through the Posse Foundation to attend the University of Wisconsin–Madison. My parents’ sacrifices and hard work has paid off as I am now graduating from such a prestigious university, and for that I am forever thankful.

What is your major, and how did you choose your major?

My journey to my major was not easy. My parents faced many cultural and language barriers against the healthcare system. I took on medical responsibilities as a young child that entailed giving my parents the right medication or finding insurance plans that would cover their ailments. I knew I wanted to promote equity in the healthcare system, but was unsure how. Then, the Health Promotion and Health Equity (HPHE) major was introduced in the School of Education, which has allowed me to learn more about how to increase equity in underserved communities through interventions. The HPHE major is exactly what I was looking for and I have paired it with the Global Health and Public Policy certificate, which has allowed me to look at health policy through a local and global lens.

"UW–Madison has brought me closer to my passion for health equity, allowing me to defy the impossible, and encouraging me to embrace the value and validity of my voice."

Shehrose Charania

What was your most meaningful experience at UW–Madison?

I became an Undergraduate Research Fellow in the Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS) program. In this role, I facilitated challenging conversations in weekly seminars with first and second-year students exploring significant moments and movements in research and creative practice. My work as a Fellow has been directly informed by my own life experiences. As COVID-19 hit close to home, negatively impacting my family’s finances and health, I became hungrier for change within the healthcare system. I wanted to shed light on issues that are currently affecting millions of Americans. Therefore, in a recent seminar I was able to apply and teach concepts of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies to the current pandemic and its impact on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and individuals with disabilities. It has been the most meaningful experience because I was able to actively discuss public health concerns that relate to Wisconsin.

What are your plans for the future?

I am happy and humbled to announce that this upcoming fall I will be pursuing my Master of Public Health in Health Administration and Policy at the University of Minnesota with a hefty scholarship. My academic and professional experiences at UW–Madison have equipped me to further examine cultural and linguistic disparities within maternal and child health at the UMN. I hope to improve the system to provide equal access and quality of care for underserved communities. I want to create health policies and intervention programs that are equitable and educational to alleviate healthcare disparities in our country for immigrants and refugees. UW–Madison has brought me closer to my passion for health equity, allowing me to defy the impossible, and encouraging me to embrace the value and validity of my voice.

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