June 22, 2020

Xavier University is the First HBCU in Louisiana to successfully launch a Public Health Masters Program

Students are equipped with a theoretical understanding of why health disparities exist

Xavier University of Louisiana now offers a master’s degree option in public health, successfully making the University the first HBCU in the state to offer the program. Of the 500 plus students who graduated during Xavier’s spring 2020 commencement, eight graduates received master’s degrees in public health. The inaugural cohort of graduates matriculated into the program in the Fall of 2018.

Xavier’s MPH program, an initiative launched as part of an effort to provide Xavierites with another option in the health sciences field, exposes enrollees to advanced public health policy and advanced epidemiology as well as a host of other health promotion and behavioral sciences framed around the advancement of health equity.

“I enjoy mentoring students and young public health professionals,” said Dr. L. Faye Grimsley, Associate Professor and Director of Public Health Sciences at Xavier University of Louisiana. “I always encourage them to be the best that they can possibly be, because one day they are the ones who will be called upon to make public health policies and recommendations and to serve in leadership roles to help protect communities and the public’s health. The MPH at Xavier is playing a role in achieving health equity by training and educating more students from diverse backgrounds for the public health workforce.”

During a time when public health has been brought into sharp focus in the midst of a global pandemic, many Xavierites who are first responders have answered the call to serve and stand on the shoulders of giants and national thought leaders, including many of whom are Xavier alums.

The State of Louisiana, as well as the United States as a whole, is facing enormous and complex health challenges and disparities related to COVID-19. These health challenges and disparities are related to high prevalence of chronic diseases, environmental health threats, pollution, and fragmented health care systems.

In keeping with Xavier’s mission, the Department of Public Health Sciences plays an important role in preparing and producing a diverse workforce and future leaders to meet current and projected demands for public health professionals in the public and private sectors who are capable of addressing determinants of health and health disparities such as those associated with COVID -19. Several of Xavier’s undergraduate public health science and MPH graduate students are involved in the COVID-19 crisis response with organizations such as the American Heart Association, the Office of Public Health, and the Veterans Administration Hospital.

Through the program’s dynamic and challenging coursework, Xavier’s MPH graduates are prepared to apply principles of health equity to address the needs of populations most burdened by health disparities. The students are equipped with a theoretical understanding of why health disparities exist as well as practical expertise in order to be change agents within their communities, as all Xavierites are.