I graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in December 2018 where I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Anthropology with concentrations in Medical Anthropology and Global Health, as well as a Certificate in Latin American Studies. I am eternally grateful to the Medical Anthropology professors in the department who worked hard to ensure that their students graduated with the tools and critical lenses needed to be successful in the real world. As a student, my research primarily focused on immigrant health, health disparities among minority populations, mental health, and substance use and addiction. I have always been passionate about examining how the lives and livelihoods of marginalized communities can be improved through advocacy, research, and innovative evidence-based policies and practices. Upon graduating, I began working with Dr. Andrea López on a large, multi-sited ethnographic study on drug use, services, and the potential expansion for harm reduction programming in five counties in Maryland—the Statewide Ethnographic Assessment of Drug Use and Services (SEADS) project, funded by the Maryland Department of Health through Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Crisis Response Funds. I participated in field-based data collection activities, ensuring compliance with IRB protocols in the administration of qualitative and quantitative interviews, and conducted data analysis by coding and structuring data, synthesizing a large dataset into analytic themes, and producing a series of deliverables to the Maryland Department of Health. I am currently working with Dr. López on developing manuscript proposals for peer-reviewed journals. In addition, I recently started a full-time position at JBS International as a Technical Assistance Coordinator on a multi-year initiative to address barriers to access in rural communities related to substance use disorderthe Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP), supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration. In the near future, I will be applying to public health and medical anthropology graduate programs with the end goal of earning a PhD in Medical Anthropology and becoming a professor and mentor to first generation minority college students like myself. I am excited to use all of the knowledge and skills I have accrued through my diverse experiences to continue advancing in my professional and academic career.  

Zena Dhatt