Yale graduate student Nassim Ashford working to reduce Blacks’ health disparities

Yale graduate student Nassim Ashford working to reduce Blacks' health disparities
Photo courtesy of Nassim Ashford

Nassim Ashford is a native of Atlanta and is a current master’s of public health (MPH) candidate at the Yale School of Public Health, concentrating in social and behavioral sciences. Black millennials such as Ashford are set to change the world, being educated and socially conscious at the same time. Showcasing the visions of Black millennial graduate students gives a projection of the strong Black intellectual mindset of capital being developed.

Describe why you chose the program you selected to get your advanced degree.


I chose Yale School of Public Health for the skills and expertise of my professors and the flexibility of my program. My program concentration in social and behavioral sciences uses a social justice approach to improve health in under-served populations. So far, my experience at Yale has been impactful, and I genuinely enjoy going to my classes and the topics discussed.

Why did you choose to get an advanced degree in public health?


During my time at the CDC, I experienced how dynamic the field of public health could be. Working with other public health professionals tracking COVID-19 and other disease metrics showed me how data could be used to highlight inequities in healthcare. I wanted to delve deeper into using public health principles to address health disparities, so I decided to pursue my Masters’s in Public Health. I am passionate about understanding the root causes of adverse health outcomes. An advanced degree enables me to perfect my research skills and provide the tools needed to conduct my own research projects.

What have you learned about yourself while getting your advanced degree?

Being in graduate school during this time has its challenges. However, what I’ve learned most thus far is the importance of finding time to cope, meditate and decompress. I’ve also learned to prioritize time management and schedule my day to remain productive.

What three areas of public health interest you the most?

I am most interested in emergency preparedness/management, environmental health, and social justice.

What is the biggest health issue you would like to have your name associated with?

The most significant health topic that I would like my name to be associated with would be social determinants of health, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Social determinants of health are conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect their health and quality of life. The COVID pandemic has illuminated how these factors can significantly contribute to one’s health.

Historically, Black communities have been negatively impacted by practices such as redlining, lack of access to healthcare, and economic hardship, all of which are social determinants of health. Therefore, addressing health issues with a social determinant of health lens is essential for improving health and reducing longstanding disparities in health and healthcare within our community.

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