Aparna Ramani: Social justice warrior and award winner


In recognition of her dedication to promoting social justice across the University of Pittsburgh and the broader community, Aparna Ramani (HPM ’23), has been awarded this year’s Iris Marion Young Award for Political Engagement. The award, created in memory of philosopher and social theorist Iris Young, recognizes that social activism takes many forms and can be pursued in many ways. Aparna is the embodiment of this philosophy.

As an advocate for expanded access to higher education, Ramani has collaborated with Rise Free Inc., focusing specifically on support for community colleges. When she received a Brackenridge Fellowship from the Pitt Honors College in 2019, Ramani used the opportunity to conduct research on the impact of different insurance policies on shared medical decision-making among patients and their healthcare providers. Currently, she is working as an intern in the food and nutrition security sector with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ramani’s academic pursuits also showcase her dedication to social justice. As a student researcher analyzing patient narratives in maternal health and rehabilitation contexts, she has gained awareness for the need to include marginalized groups in policy-making spaces. She notes, “Healthcare spans outside the four walls of the clinical setting. Therefore, it is critical to act in a socially responsible manner to decrease the gaps within the social determinants of health as future public health professionals.”

This year she received the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Teaching Fellowship, which has provided the opportunity for her to work as a teaching fellow with Drs. Abimbola Fapohunda and Cynthia Salter, both in the department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences. As part of their Introduction to Global Health course, Ramani works with student groups creating videos about current events in global health.

Inspired by a passion for the intersection of healthcare and social empowerment, Ramani realized her main interests lie in health systems and population health outcomes. Recognizing that she needed a deeper understanding of health policy, Ramani applied to the 4+1 Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s degree program at Pitt Public Health where she is pursuing an MPH in Health Policy and Management.

“As a current 4+1 student, I can certainly say it was a great decision to apply to the program!”

A virtual event to honor awardees, co-sponsored by the Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies Program and Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, was held on Thursday, November 11th. Ramani, who received the Undergraduate Student Award, had the opportunity to discuss their work with other winners during a roundtable discussion about activism and service moderated by Dr. Sabina Deitrick (GSPIA). 



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