Cheyenne Bailey Named 2021 SPH Convocation Speaker.
Cheyenne Bailey Named 2021 SPH Convocation Speaker
The CAPDIE student is passionate about community advocacy and dedicated to helping people with chronic illnesses navigate the healthcare system.
Cheyenne Bailey, an ardent advocate for chronically ill people struggling to navigate the US healthcare system, has been selected as the student speaker at the 2021 School of Public Health Convocation. Bailey will speak during a virtual celebration on Saturday, May 15 from noon to 1:30 pm on Zoom.
A native of Brooklyn with a chemistry degree from Dickinson College, Bailey was driven to the field of public health with the desire to dismantle racial inequities and structural biases within healthcare—issues that are deeply personal to her. While battling a chronic illness at age 17, she struggled to receive adequate care and support from doctors. Now, as a soon-to-be graduate who completed the CAPDIE certificate, she is determined to apply the community advocacy and intervention tools she gained to educate and advocate for people from underrepresented populations who are experiencing similar challenges in receiving care.
After graduation she will begin a position as a project associate for a small, New York City-based consulting firm that works with community health centers and other organizations to connect people from marginalized populations to health services.
“We know that the healthcare system is flawed in a lot of ways, and that a person’s identity often interferes with the breadth of care that they receive,” Bailey says. “Now I know what it takes to advocate for people and I want to create a more equal playing field for people to receive the care that they deserve.”
During the MPH program, Bailey immersed herself in advocacy work, both at SPH and within the community. Since June 2020, she has worked as a public health research writer for Power of Patients, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) support and awareness organization that educates TBI patients and caregivers. She developed brochures, eBooks, and a variety of other documents to share with patients about brain injury research, and also helped them share their own stories on social media.
“It was an eye-opening experience to work with this community and support them over the past year,” Bailey says. “I observed so many people who are still struggling to receive the help that they need and deserve after sustaining brain injuries 20 or 30 years ago. It was difficult to see folks struggle, but also beautiful to see that there is a community that could provide support.”
Through the Activist Lab, Bailey also served as the Neighborhood Empowerment Through Storytelling and Advocacy Fellow, a year-long position funded by the Boston Foundation, where she worked with Boston REACH (Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health): Partnership in Health and Housing (PHH) to address public housing residents’ concerns about the physical and mental health impacts of COVID-19, as well as safety measures within their homes. Bailey conducted focus groups to learn more about residents’ concerns, and collaborated with SPH’s Epidemiology COVID-19 Response Corps to develop educational materials about COVID safety measures and resources.
“It was a really great experience to work with and learn from this community, and I left every meeting on fire,” Bailey says. “And one thing I learned is that advocacy never stops—you can never stop advocating for yourself.”
Bailey is also the president of the Students of Color for Public Health, and served as an Antiracist Research Fellow, working with faculty, fellow MPH students, PhD candidates, and a post-doctoral associate to study the association between state policies and eviction on COVID-19 hospitalizations in the US.
What she cherishes most about SPH are the friendships and relationships that she has made.
“Every single friend that I’ve met and every professor that I’ve worked with have expanded my understanding of public health,” Bailey says. “Meeting people and learning about their own stories has taught me so much.”
In a nomination letter, MPH student Jasmine Lee wrote that Bailey represents “what it truly means to be a leader at the forefront of public health.
“Cheyenne Bailey best embodies BUSPH’s mission and values in being a strong, kind, inspiring and compassionate public health leader,” Lee wrote. “She makes me and others want to be in the world of public health with her leading it.”
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