Loan Repayment Program Awardee: Dr. Shannon Monnat

[MUSIC] I was at Penn State University in rural sociology and demography at the time that I got the health disparities research Loan Repayment Program award to look at healthcare access and use among Hispanics across different geographic locations so I was really interested in the experiences of Hispanics in new destinations versus established destinations and in rural and urban areas, and how those health care experiences differed. I’ve always been super interested in the mechanisms that lead to differences in a wide variety of health outcomes among different groups and in different spaces. It’s a social justice issue and it has implications for long-term economic and social and health conditions among these groups, and in these communities health is a really important component not only to individuals but to their communities and to the broader geographic spaces in which they live. Data are always a challenge. You never know how they’re going to turn out until you start analyzing them. They can be messy at times. You might not find what you expected to find. One of the really fun and interesting things that can come out of it is it can take you in completely different directions than you ever expected to go, So some of the things that, for instance, I learned under my Loan Repayment Program about characteristics of communities and neighborhoods and economic change helped lead me into my future research which is focused on contemporary problems like suicide and drug overdoses [MUSIC] I think the Loan Repayment Program is just so important for junior faculty and junior academics who aren’t quite sure if what they’re doing is important and whether people appreciate it. it can help relieve that stress and anxiety that’s associated with not knowing whether you’re following the right path because finally someone said you’re doing something that we care about and that we think is important and we’re investing in you as a scholar. But there’s another component to it as well and that’s that the Loan Repayment Program brings scholars in to a network of other NIH researchers and scholars and people who are perhaps more senior and can offer mentorship but also other junior faculty who can offer support and advice, and offer potentials for collaboration even . I actually applied for the LRP three times before I got it, and so I was so excited when I finally got it because it was it meant that NIH thought that my research was legitimate, and that kind of legitimacy is really important for a junior faculty member which I was at the time. I would say definitely apply. Talk to the program officer. If you don’t get it the first time, keep applying. Like I said, I got it after my third try and it’s not the first time that I got a grant after multiple tries. And so I think with this is with anything else that perseverance is important.

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