Erica Cherian, a junior at UNC Charlotte, has devoted her time, talent, research activities, and scholarship resources to addressing issues of healthcare access and utilization by Charlotte's most vulnerable citizens. Over the past three years, she has worked at two local clinics serving members of the immigrant community. After interning at one community health clinic assisting as an interpreter and working on program assessment and grant writing, Erica continues to work with the clinic to develop a new app designed to disseminate health related information to Hispanic teens. Additionally, Erica volunteers at a second clinic as an interpreter, assisting with patient flow and processing. Her leadership by example inspires other students to develop the language skills and grounded experience to look beyond abstract numbers and descriptions of healthcare needs, and develop the vision and understanding to serve the needs of the most vulnerable patients.
For as long as I can remember, I have been driven to defend those who could not defend themselves. Frustration gnaws at me when I see injustice being done, or human beings reduced to stereotypes and therefore being treated differently. As an aspiring physician, the disparities that exist in healthcare are of particular concern, and in my classes, I have studied data on the disparities that exist between many groups. However, learning about numbers and statistics is nothing compared to the experience of speaking with real people about the trials and hardships that they have faced in accessing care. Through volunteer experiences with various free clinics in Charlotte, I have been immersed in the issue of healthcare access disparity for the Hispanic population in North Carolina. In collaboration with my peers, I am working to develop an app that will disseminate healthcare information and resources to Hispanic teenagers. While this only addresses a symptom of the larger problem of inequity that resounds throughout the system of healthcare, it does help address the immediate crisis of access. Mitigating and eliminating the systematic inequality is something that I will continue to work on throughout my career.