Justin Hills: Combatting health disparities

I’ve always been one to like to explain my biology homework to my mom or to my friends
and things like but I didn’t know I could make a career out of that or there were people
who did that for a living. My name is Justin Hills, and I am a sophomore
here at N.C. State from Charlotte, North Carolina, And my major is biological sciences with a
concentration in human biology. And I’m working on a minor in African studies.
I definitely know that upon graduation I want to attend medical school, and I also want
to pursue a career in public health, because I really enjoy some of the work I’ve been
doing with Dr. Rob Dunn as a science communicator. I’ve spent the last academic year working
with Dr. Dunn in the Department of Biology with his Bellybutton Biodiversity project
and the Wild Life of Your Home projects, where we are asking people to sample common areas
around their house so that we can see what lives with them and on them. So that’s always
pretty neat asking people to swab their countertops and their pillowcases and stuff like that.
Being in Dr. Dunn’s lab this semester and last semester has sparked the interest in
research and being a science communicator, so this summer I actually plan on going to
Ghana to study abroad there and do some research university with the University of Alabama
(at Birmingham’s) School of Public Health. I will be traveling to Kamasi, Ghana, to work
in a teaching hospital there to study liver cancer and to see how different factors in
the community there can lead to changes in liver cancer and things like that.
I’m also a University Ambassador, so I give tours and things like that here. And then
I’m also involved with MAPS here at N.C. State, which is the Minority Association of
Pre-Health Studenters. The main focus of MAPS is to combat health disparities both nationally
and internationally. I’m one of the first in my family to come
to a large school like this. One of my worries was getting lost in the mix somewhere. And
since day one I haven’t had that problem. I’ve always been able to interact with great
professors like Dr. Dunn and all my other teachers here that, one, take an interest
in my career goals and then want to help me to reach them, too. So that’s what got me
here, and it is the reason why I’m staying.

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