Graduating Health Sciences Major on a Mission to Solve Health Care Issues Around the Globe

By Tom McLaughlin

Jasmaine Quashie is a self-proclaimed “talker.”

The graduating Rutgers University–Camden senior is right at home engaged in a discussion or debate, or working with others to put a well-crafted plan into action.

Quashie wants to look at health systems on a macro level and find where they can be fixed once and for all.

“My interests point in many different directions, but they all revolve around the central focus of developing ideas creatively toward a goal,” says the senior health sciences major.

As far as the Edison resident is concerned, the bigger the problems, the bigger the ideas needed to solve them. It’s that “can-do” attitude which inspired her to pursue a bachelor’s degree in health sciences as the first step toward exploring and solving health-care and health-systems issues around the globe.

“When it comes to health care, I want to talk big ideas,” she says. “I want to look at these big systems on a macro level and find where we can fix them once and for all.”

As Quashie explains, her keen focus on adequate health care and health systems runs deep, stretching along the family’s roots to their native Togo, a West African nation located on the Gulf of Guinea.

A dire event that happened when she was a young girl would be a lifelong reminder – the story shared “thousands of times” by her parents – of the lack of proper health care elsewhere in the world.

As she recalls, it was a day that began like many others until the phone rang. Her father was calling from Togo to report the urgent news: her grandmother had just suffered a heart attack. Without any adequate health-care facilities nearby, her father, grandmother, and a family doctor needed to drive four hours away to neighboring Ghana for her to receive proper care. However, they didn’t have the $3,000 necessary for her to be treated and needed Quashie’s mother to wire them the money as soon as possible.

Quashie credits her experiences as a resident assistant for helping her to find a little bit more of herself.

Fortunately for Quashie’s grandmother and her family, the funds did make it there in time and her grandmother got the care that she needed. Nonetheless, the Rutgers–Camden senior would never forget that others aren’t so lucky and similar scenes play out every day around the world.

“That experience has always stayed with me,” says the health sciences major. “Seeing that play out in the health systems of Africa was very intriguing. I always thought that, if I had the opportunity, I wanted to explore it more.”

Years later, with a focus on health care still at the fore, Quashie arrived at Rutgers–Camden to pursue a bachelor’s in nursing degree. However, as she took courses in sociology and anthropology, she expanded her focus to encompass what she sees as the role most suited to her skills.

Over the past semester, she has been working on an independent, anthropological study focusing on health systems in Africa. Her goal has been to write a policy brief for the World Health Organization, hoping to “bring fresh ideas to a policymaking world.”

“Finally having this opportunity to study health systems in Africa on the college level has made it an incredibly worthwhile and meaningful endeavor,” says Quashie.

Closer to home, she has also worked to raise people’s awareness to various social issues as a founding member of Underground, a campus-based social-justice organization. Among her most treasured experiences with the group, she recently helped to organize a campus panel discussion focusing on sexual harassment.

The Rutgers–Camden senior is also proud to have assisted her fellow students last year as a resident assistant on campus – a role, she says, which gave her the chance to “bring people together” in order to foster a community atmosphere.

“That was the big one for me,” says Quashie. “That’s where I started to find a little bit more of myself; what I did and didn’t like, and how I could help others.”

Upon graduating, Quashie hopes to serve in a community-oriented position, with plans to supplement her expertise with a master of business administration or a master’s degree in marketing.

Wherever the path leads her, she wants to be involved in the discussion.

“Now that I am graduating, and on my way to doing what I set out to do, I realize that no challenges are too big if you take them on in steps,” she says. “I look forward to taking them.”

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