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| Kate Stewart, M.D., MPH, has had a long career in the medical field changing the lives of people across Arkansas.
To commemorate her impact and provide financial support to students who share Stewart’s passion for eliminating health inequities, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health has donated to Mary Kathryn Established the Dr. Stewart Scholarship.
“Some students interested in addressing health equity may also face significant financial barriers to obtaining public health education,” Stewart said. “I’m really excited about this scholarship because it’s one way we can address these barriers.”
Stewart, a professor (now professor emeritus) in the School of Health Policy and Management and director of community engagement for the Institute for Translational Research, retired this summer after 26 years at UAMS. Ms. Stewart is a pillar of the College of Public Health, and her tenure dates back to her founding of the school in 2001.
Dr. Tom Bruce, the university’s first dean, placed emphasis on faculty involvement in the community in various projects. Knowing that Stewart was familiar with her work with community groups, Bruce recruited her as a faculty member at the university to establish a community-based public health agency.
“The initial goal was to build a network of community partners,” she said. “It took time and a lot of team effort to build the net. But once the mission gained momentum, it was a success.
“Over time, many funding bodies have come to require researchers to partner with, or at least engage with, communities affected by the issues they study.”
Stewart often conducted community research in collaboration with Arkansans living in rural areas and people from underrepresented demographics. The key to her success was that she cared about the well-being of the communities she served.
“People sometimes judge people who are different from them without understanding why they are facing challenges,” she says. “But spending time with them and learning about their experiences, perspectives and situations is very enlightening, and this understanding helps us conduct higher quality research.”
Recognizing Stewart’s impact and the value of community-based research, this scholarship is designed to support students pursuing careers in community-based participatory research, increasing workforce diversity, or confronting health inequalities. Benefits students who often serve people in rural areas or population groups.
Students who work with minority populations, rural areas, areas harmed by social determinants of health, or individuals with nonconforming gender or sexual identities will receive special consideration for scholarships .
“It’s easier to train people who genuinely care and want to make a difference,” Stewart says. “However, the financial aspects of obtaining the necessary training can inhibit the pursuit of that education. We hope that this will help you receive the following.”
Stewart reflected on the connections he has made, the community partners he has worked with, the scholarships he has received, and the researchers who are now taking the mission to the next level, and that the fight for health equity will continue. He said there was no room for doubt.
“I was interested in public health and entered the field because I wanted to go ‘upstream’ and focus on population-level health,” she said. “Involving those most affected by the issues we are trying to address is more effective than working ‘for’ them. Just imagine!
“I’m excited to see what researchers and students can accomplish when they work with communities to understand the issues and take an interest in addressing health equity,” Stewart said. Ta. “I have worked with many students who have achieved great things by working with the community, and that is very inspiring to me.”
Donations to the scholarship can be made by visiting giving.uams.edu/MKSscholarship. In the gift comments section of the page, write: “Dr. Mary Kathryn Stewart Scholarship.”