Matthews Takes Action to Improve Minority Health
Azsha Matthews, a recipient of the Go Red™ Multicultural Scholarship Fund, has witnessed the impact of healthcare disparities first hand. Her grandmother suffered a stroke after financial concerns forced her to stop taking her medication. Her brother is diabetic and frequently cannot afford insulin. A close family friend passed away because she was uninsured and did not seek medical care for chest pains.
“Many people think minorities are looking for handouts, but I have seen that pride actually keeps people from asking for the help they need,” she says. “I hope that by becoming a nurse I can become an advocate for these types of people.”
Being an advocate for others comes naturally for Matthews. While attending Xavier University in New Orleans she cleaned up homes and churches following disastrous hurricanes, tutored children after school and volunteered in a local hospital. Now in graduate school at Columbia University, she helped with the Hurricane Sandy relief effort, educated people about the risks of high blood pressure at the “Harlem Health Revival,” and continues to log hours at the student-run clinic that provides free health care to uninsured members of the local Hispanic community.
She’s also working on a research study sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation aimed at increasing the amount of genetic material from minorities stored in biorepositories, which are essentially storage facilities for specimens that may lead to future medical breakthroughs.
This commitment to the underserved keeps Matthews motivated on her quest to become a Nurse Practitioner, with a focus on people who have limited access to healthcare. After working in the field for several years, she hopes to ultimately obtain a Ph.D. or DNP and teach the next generation of nurses about minority health. The Go Red Multicultural Scholarship Fund, sponsored by Macy’s, will help defray some of the costs of Matthews’ ambitious personal and educational journey.