July 21, 2021 — Samson Olowolaju, a doctoral student in Applied Demography in the College for Health, Community and Policy, is the inaugural recipient of a fellowship from Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas.
The Health Equity Fellowship, established in 2021, awards $25,000 to a graduate student in the College for Health, Community and Policy to support research in areas such as social determinants of health, vulnerable populations frameworks, health equity, population health, data driven innovations, philanthropy, rural populations, poverty and more.
“We are thrilled to have Methodist Healthcare Ministries as a pivotal partner for the College,” said Lynne Cossman, dean of the College for Health, Community and Policy. “Especially considering the challenges of the last year, we are grateful for our partnership and how well our missions complement each other. CEO Jaime Wesolowski’s representation on the HCaP Advisory Council is important in effecting change with community-wide collaborations.”
Olowolaju earned his BS in demography and social statistics at Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria, and attended Texas A&M University for his Master of Public Health. He is anticipated to complete his Ph.D. in Applied Demography in 2023. He chose UTSA because it had the most robust courses offered for his interests. “I was so thrilled, because it was so rich in the methodology and I love to learn all of that,” he said.
Together with his mentor, Associate Professor Corey Sparks, Olowolaju is focusing on researching maternal mortality. It was Sparks who nominated Olowolaju for the fellowship.
“Samson was a natural choice, as his career goal is to work for an agency like Methodist Healthcare Ministries, where he can help translate data into real world decisions and health policies to promote equity,” said Sparks. “We are very honored that Methodist Healthcare Ministries has sponsored this fellowship. It is a fantastic way to connect our applied demography students with an agency who’s focus is on health equity and access. Samson was selected because his research on maternal mortality is extremely policy relevant and is a health outcome that we know can be affected by better healthcare policy decisions.”
“Samson was selected because his research on maternal mortality is extremely policy relevant and is a health outcome that we know can be affected by better healthcare policy decisions.”
Olowolaju is honored to receive the fellowship and hopes it will help propel his research to the next level. “If there is funding, then you can focus and put all of your attention into the research you’re doing,” he said.
Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas is a faith-based, not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating access to health care for uninsured and low-income families through direct services, community partnerships and strategic grant-making in 74 counties across South Texas. This new partnership with UTSA will help their mission to empower the voices of the community.
“As we continue to implement a new strategic plan and endeavor in the spheres of resilient families and thriving communities, it becomes essential for our organization to continually refresh its knowledge of the latest applied and peer reviewed research,” said Chance Kinnison, senior research and evaluation manager at Methodist Healthcare Ministries. “The establishment of this research fellowship is one way to ensure we have a regular consultation with the academic community and enables us to solicit additional guidance for what are the most important and useful frameworks and innovations that can lead to a reduction in health disparities.”
After completing the fellowship and his doctoral degree, Olowolaju plans to find employment in a research institute and try to put himself in a position where his research can positively impact the community.
“Samson will acquire valuable experience to add to the resume, can continue forming his own research agenda, and, moreover, gain exposure to the health care and philanthropic landscape,” said Kinnison. “We are confident that the Methodist Healthcare Ministries Health Equity Fellowship will produce future leaders for the community and inspire talented individuals to propel themselves into careers that multiply the impact of our work lifting up resilient families and thriving communities.”