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Omega Psi Phi member Nassim Ashford using internship to study health care

Nassim Ashford (Photo provided)

Nassim Ashford is a Mercer University senior who has been selected for one of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) Emerging Leaders Internships and will spend this semester working on Capitol Hill.

Ashford completed graduation requirements for his bachelor’s degree a semester early and plans to participate in commencement in May. While in college, he has served as president of the Gamma Zeta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., treasurer of the Caribbean Student Association and program chair of the Mercer International Affairs Organization. After graduation, Ashford plans to attend graduate school and work domestically and internationally to improve health care practices and promote health equity for those in need.

Rolling out spoke with him about what he hopes to take away from his internship.

Why did you apply for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation internship?

I applied to the CBCF internship to gain more exposure to policies that promote lasting solutions to public health challenges. Given my interest in global health, I have come to understand that a major component of raising awareness and invoking effective change of health issues involves the competency of health policies and regulations. Through this internship, I hope to learn more about health policies and the legislative process so that I can be equipped to make positive changes.

Name two congressional leaders who you most admire and why.

Two congressional leaders I admire are John Lewis and Karen Bass. Growing up in the metro Atlanta community, I have always noticed events and community forums hosted by Congressman John Lewis. As a profound civil rights activist, Congressman Lewis uses his passion for helping others by fighting for what he believes in. I admire Congresswoman Bass for her positions on issues such as health care policy, the environment, and global human rights. As a congresswoman, she serves in key leadership roles to improve the global community in which we all live, and she embodies what it means to be a servant leader.

If you introduced a bill in Congress, what would it be and why?

Chronic diseases, such as hypertension, disproportionately affect the community that I come from. It can lead to various adverse health outcomes, including cardiac issues, kidney disease and obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention], chronic disease is the leading cause of death and disability in our country. As a member of Congress, I would propose a bill that would improve access to preventative health care services and nutritional food sources. Since eating nutrient-dense foods is essential at all stages of life, access to healthy food options is vital in shaping the scale of chronic disease. My bill would address the issues of food deserts and food swamps to decrease the prevalence of chronic disease and protect the lives of those in my community.

Why is voting important to the Black community?

Voting is essential to the Black community because it allows our voices and opinions to be heard. Historically, African American communities have been marginalized from voting due to racism and discrimination.