News Story

Global Health Major Focuses on Improving Health Systems, Advancing Health Equity

October 13, 2020 – Lara Adekunle (NHS’22) is a global health major and a member of Georgetown’s varsity women’s volleyball team. This summer, Adekunle participated in the creation of the Black Student-Athlete Coalition. She hopes to pursue a career in health policy or international development in order to improve health systems and advance health equity.

Lara Adekunle (NHS’22) poses in an official portrait-style photograph.
Lara Adekunle (NHS’22)

Question: Where did you grow up, and how did you learn about Georgetown?

Adekunle: I lived in Louisville until the age of 5 and grew up in Chicago. I honestly first heard about Georgetown from the movie, College Road Trip starring Raven-Symoné and Martin Lawrence. I then revisited the school when I was making my college decision at the end of my senior year in high school. 

Question: What drew you to want to study in the health field?

Adekunle: My mom is a nurse, and I’ve always had an inclination towards health and developing hands-on relationships in whatever role I find myself in. As I started looking into schools I wanted to attend, I started to move away from going into the pre-med track and looked into more health policy and “behind the scenes” roles in health care. I’ve always been very passionate about health care equity and delivering solutions to underrepresented communities, which is why I decided to focus my studies on global health.

Question: How are you enjoying the global health major?

Adekunle: I love the major! There’s been so many interesting speakers and topics discussed in many of my courses so far. I love the intersectionality of the field and the many different aspects that global health touches on – mental health, demographics, health economics, and sustainable development, just to name a few. I’m looking forward to traveling and applying the skills we’ve learned in the classroom so far in more hands-on experiences. 

Question: Tell us about the activities you are involved in at Georgetown.

Adekunle: I am on the varsity women’s volleyball team at Georgetown, which, alone, has opened so many opportunities for me. Being a student-athlete can be time-consuming and requires a lot of focus and determination, but teaches invaluable teamwork, time management, and leadership skills. From my role as an athlete, I am involved on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and volunteer with the Grassroots Project, an organization that uses athletes from all four major D-1 universities in D.C. to teach fun, game-led health education lessons in D.C. middle schools (sexual health, nutrition, and mental health). 

This past summer, in light of racial and social injustice, I worked with a group of Black athletes to create an exhaustive list of demands to better the Black student-athlete experience. We then went on to found the university’s first Black student-athlete affinity group. We established the Black Student-Athlete Coalition (BSAC) to bring awareness, advocacy, and community building to the forefront of athletics. (Learn more about the Black Student-Athlete Coalition.)  

As a result of the coalition’s work, three BSAC representatives now serve on the department’s diversity, equity, and inclusion working group. The athletic department also hired a full-time director for diversity, equity, and inclusion who will start in December.

Apart from athletics, I am also the social chair of the African Society at Georgetown (ASG). I love the relationships and family I’ve found within ASG, and it’s always exciting to meet other people from the diaspora on the Hilltop!

Question: What are your plans for the future?

Adekunle: In the future, I hope to find opportunities in international development or health care policy. I also hope to continue to travel around the world and conduct research and explore different cultures! Eventually, I would like to go back to Nigeria and continue to work to strengthen the health system and improve the lives of my family and many others. I’d also love to set up a non-profit that continues to use the power of sports and student-athletes to further awareness of social justice and health initiatives!

(Updated November 17, 2020)

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