NASHVILLE, Tenn. Raven Alade began her path to healthcare studying psychology. After graduating from North County Technical High School in St. Louis, she earned a Bachelors of Science Degree majoring in the subject, with a minor in Africana Studies.
When she entered the Vanderbilt University Peabody College of Education, however, her goals shifted.
“I saw their program – Community Development and Action – had people wanting to change the world,” she recalled. “They wanted to help marginalized communities.”
Raven is now a part of that program.
For the past few months, Raven interned with the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance, contributing to its Community Engagement efforts.
“I was led by my program advisor because of my interest in faith communities and mental health,” she said. “I work with the Faith & Health Collaborative, which merges those interests.”
During her internship, she assisted with initiatives like the Faith & Health Awards and events like Breakfast with Faith Leaders.
“I see how the MVA reaches out to advocate with faith communities and provides health information,” she said. “They take action to give out information to the broader community.”
Raven hopes to develop a well-rounded understanding of faith communities’ needs and to connect with them.
“I think that would be the biggest goal, to help make a difference however I can,” she said.
Beyond her internship, she plans to continue her education and possibly work toward a PhD. Meanwhile, she intends to continue working within faith communities and merge those efforts with psychology and break down the stigma of mental health.
“I have experience with suicides in faith communities,” she recalled. “I want to be an advocate for people who may be suffering with mental illness.”
About the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance
Founded in 1999, the Alliance bridges the institutions of Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Its mission is to enrich learning and advance clinical research in three primary areas -- community engagement, interprofessional education and research -- by developing and supporting mutually beneficial partnerships between Meharry Medical College, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the communities they serve. Through community engagement, the Alliance serves a large community of stakeholders including surrounding universities and colleges, community organizations, faith-based outlets and community health centers. Its interprofessional education enhances students' interdisciplinary understanding and improves patient outcomes through integrated care. The research conducted provides access to experienced grant writers and materials supporting the grant application process and facilitates grant-writing workshop.