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Doctoral alum advances health equity through grant-making and community-engaged research

Dr. Tashelle Wright Tashelle earned her PhD from UC Merced in December 2021. She is now a is an Associate Program Officer with the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP) at the University of California Office of the President. She focuses on social and behavioral health, community partnered participatory research, communication and dissemination, intersectionality, policy, and health equity in research and science. Tashelle finds advancing and promoting health equity to be crucial to the work she does with TRDRP and grant making. She uses her positionality and background to help connect individuals and families to health resources and information. One of her favorite roles is taking complicated science and translating it for different audiences to better understand how to improve health outcomes and quality of life.

For current public health students, Tashelle shared:

“Public health work is so essential to the world we live in. Center your work on the topics and populations that mean the most to you. This will help you push through on days that the work becomes overwhelming. Public health work is broad in the best ways. You can stay in academia, something academia adjacent (like me), work for government or non-profit agencies, become a consultant or educator. We have so many options!”

Outside of TRDRP, she serves as a community health researcher and grant consultant for non-profit organizations in California and Utah. She continues to be involved with Black Feminist Sociology and Dr. Whitney Pirtle’s SHE Lab at UC Merced. She is an adjunct faculty member for two institutions and teaches Black History for kindergarteners and 1 st graders, which is so much fun!

During her time at UC Merced, Tashelle was awarded UC Merced’s first TRDRP Predoctoral Fellowship and Black Research Fellowship. She was involved in Summer Bridge, UCM’s Graduate Student Association, started the Black Graduate Scholar Association (BGSA), and co-developed the Cultivating Diversity and Inclusion and Academia Program, which received grant funding. Tashelle was awarded a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship in Black and Indigenous health at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health (DLSPH). Originally from Salt Lake City, Utah and a current resident of Merced, California, she enjoys being involved in the Black and Latinx communities in both Utah and California’s San Joaquin Valley.