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Zoe Denise Atkinson is a UNC Center for Health Equity Research Undergraduate Research Assistant.

Why is health equity or health equity research important to you?

Health equity research is critical because I have witnessed the impact of its success in a community. I am a past resident of a community that is closely partnered with UNC Health & Equity Center and the positive changes that were made in my community from providing employment to youth to identifying various health accessibility gaps and providing solutions to such. Health equity research has the potential to encourage a healthier lifestyle for countless communities.

What path led you to pursue a career in health equity?

My major is B.A. Psychology with a minor in business and administration my career path is to eventually work in a corporate office as an industrial-organizational psychologist. I am interning at the health and equity center because I have an interest in combining health equity with psychology to improve my community. For two years, I worked with an outreach program lead by the CHER program in my community and once I transferred to UNC-Chapel Hill I knew I had to assist with the operations of the program. During my time with CHER program, I have gained knowledge of health equity research and combined that with a psychological outlook to bring a varied perspective to the conversation. What I have acquired working in health equity this past semester I can use in my prospective career by not just analyzing my clients from a mental wellbeing standpoint in the workplace but in a physical one as well and provide recommendations to improve such.

What project(s) are you working on within CHER (briefly in your own words)

As previously mentioned, I have worked with an outreach program lead by CHER for two years; MapsCorps of Nash & Edgecombe County. For the duration of that time, I was not a student of UNC-Chapel Hill but once I arrived, I made it my mission to aide in the operation of the program so that youth in my community could have the opportunity to gain the skillset that I did.

What do you like to do outside of CHER work?

Outside of CHER work, I find enjoyment in dancing with the Opeyo Dance Company of UNC-Chapel Hill. I also find pleasure in beginning my next chapter of aligning myself with the expectations of applying to graduate school and preparing for my future career.

What book, podcast, reading, or other materials would you suggest for learning more about social and/or health inequities?

I do not have any specific material in mind, but I have recently taken interest in learning about the health inequalities between African American women in comparison to their counterparts. Additionally, I have also found curiosity in learning about the inequalities between African Americans in rural areas in reference to receiving the Covid-19 vaccination in comparison to their counterparts.