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Navy blue background has diamonds and starbursts. A spotlight icon shines on a circular image of Stephanie Lola. A label reads "In the spotlight." Below the label is the text "Stephanie Lola."

by Melissa Marcus

Stephanie Lola engages with healthcare on global and local scales through her graduate studies at the Gillings School of Public Health and her work at Center for Health Equity Research (CHER).

Get to know Stephanie and her work.

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you study.

I grew up in Rutherfordton, NC and earned my B.S. in Microbiology from NC State University in 2019. I then worked as a research microbiologist for 3 years at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as an ORISE (Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education) Post-Baccalaureate Fellow. I started the Master of Public Health Program at Gillings in August 2022.

My concentration is in Global Health, and I am specifically interested in implementation science (the application of research in practice and policy), health policy and equitable access to healthcare.

Tell us about your role at CHER.

At CHER, I am working as a Graduate Research Assistant with the CRx-CVD team on the implementation of EMR [electronic medical record]-integrated referrals to link clinical and community services to reduce health inequities.

How has working at CHER impacted your time at UNC?

Working at CHER has helped me link the global and local sides of public health.

My interests lie in making healthcare more equitable through effective interventions and policies.

Through my degree program, I am learning about large scale, globally minded, ideas. Working at CHER has provided the ability to view public health on a local, community level. Getting both of these perspectives has helped me make connections across the international and local scales.

Additionally, my work has allowed me to pursue my interest in implementation science and has introduced me to public health research.

What’s the most important thing for people to understand about what you do?

I think the most important thing for people to understand is the importance of whole person health. There is a lot of importance in ensuring people have access to resources that meet their needs, which can improve health outcomes. Additionally, without equitable and sustainable systems, medical and health systems fail to include everyone that needs them.

What are your plans going forward? How does working at CHER tie into them?

Moving forward, I am interested in working on evaluation and implementation of public health interventions. Broadly, I am interested in applying my skills and knowledge towards bridging the gap between research scientists and practitioners through partnerships and collaborations.

I am still figuring out exactly what this might look like, but the lessons I am learning at CHER about health equity and whole person health have confirmed that I want to be sure to tie health equity into whatever field I work in.

What might other students want to know about CHER?

CHER is a really wonderful place to work and the staff are all extremely supportive. I have been able to challenge myself and learn new things every day. Additionally, CHER does a lot of interesting work and focuses on the most effective and relevant ways to move towards health equity and improving the health of people across North Carolina.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I just ran my first half-marathon!