Recent Honors College alumna Gracyn Travitz '21 has published her first research article, Differences in State Reporting of COVID-19 Data by Race and Ethnicity Across the United States, in the journal Epidemiology and Public Health Research (EPHR). Travitz is currently studying at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health working toward her Master in Healthcare Administration (MHA). In the Honors College at Appalachian, Travitz completed her thesis, A Systematic Review of the Impacts of Food Insecurity in China: Evidence Reveals Six Key Themes, with Dr. Adam Hege, associate professor in the Department of Health and Exercise Science, as her director, Dr. Eric Karchmer, assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology, as her second reader, and Dr. Matt Ruble, senior lecturer in the Department of Philosophy and Religion, as her third reader. Travitz explained how her experience in the Honors College is shaping her current success:
“The relationships I had with faculty/mentors at App, especially with Dr. Adam Hege, Dr. Matt Ruble, and Dr. Eric Karchmer (my thesis advisors), have really inspired me…More specifically, Honors at App allowed me the space to think uniquely and critically about information that was presented to me. I have taken that lens with me to UNC and constantly evaluate the information that I’m being taught. It also helped me develop an even stronger sense of work ethic when it comes to prioritizing and managing coursework.”
In her Honors thesis defense presentation, Travitz shared the story of her adoption and how it has inspired her research into health disparities. She shared, “I was born in Dawu, China (approximately a two-hour drive from Wuhan) and adopted by 13-months-old. I was left outside a government building wrapped in a blanket with nothing but a note that had my birthday… allegedly. Understanding my birth story has been an emotional, personal journey for me. I struggled with understanding China’s history and policies (specifically the One Child Policy) when I first learned about it in seventh grade. I struggled to understand how I was a part of that process. I struggled to understand who I was as an adoptee. With a lot of hard work and introspection, I have slowly overtime gained confidence in who I am as an Asian-American adoptee”
Photo above features Gracyn Travitz at AppState’s graduation in May 2021. Photo submitted.
Travitz has aspired to attend UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health since her sophomore year when she declared her undergraduate major of public health. As she shared, “It’s the number #1 public school of public health! I originally thought I wanted to get my Master of Public Health…Then, after talking with some professionals, I realized that healthcare administration might be more in line with what I want to do…be the boss lady of a hospital or healthcare facility! So, I changed my trajectory pretty last minute. I haven’t had any hospital experience unfortunately, in part due to COVID-19. My resume was mainly composed of research experience, which is great! However, I’m excited to actually get into a healthcare facility firsthand.” When asked why she wants to pursue the MHA, she declares,
“Research informs new policy. New policy creates change. And I hope to make meaningful change as an administrator.”
As an MHA candidate, with the intention of becoming an administrator, Travitz has the opportunity to make a difference. She explained how administrators have the ability to influence the way health disparities are managed in our current healthcare system. She is currently gaining the knowledge and tools to create meaningful healthcare transformation in her career.
Much of Travitz’ research to-date has been related to health disparities. This publication, specifically, is a byproduct of that work. She explained, “My experience with Duke University’s Center for Research to Advance Healthcare Equity in the summer of 2020 as a REACH Equity Summer Undergraduate Research Scholar (RESURP) focused on racial/ethnic health disparities, especially within the patient-provider experience. It also highlighted other key topics such as implicit bias, manuscript writing, statistics, and much more. The article that was published was an extension of the work I had been doing with Duke. It focused on racial/ethnic health disparities pertaining to COVID-19 data reporting across the US.”
Travitz learned from her experience publishing research, and shared,
“I learned that publishing a research article is hard! It takes a lot of patience, revising/editing, and persistence. However, I think it is completely worth it if it means you are getting important research that matters to you out into the world. No, you should not try to publish something that you are not passionate about; And no, you should not try to publish research just for a line on your resume (that is just an added bonus). You should want to do it because you are passionate about it! Ask questions. Rely on your support (in my case, faculty/mentors). Be persistent. Be confident. Be proud.”
Top photo of Gracyn Travitz ’21 submitted.