Amina Massey, SUMR '06

Amina Massey

Amina Massey, SUMR '06

As a sophomore at Brown University majoring in Ethnic Studies and Community Health, Amina Massey became a SUMR Scholar interested in understanding how to research the connections between religion and health in African American communities. She was mentored by then RWJF Health & Society Scholar Carolyn Cannuscio, ScD, ScM,  who is now a Penn epidemiologist and an LDI Senior Fellow.

"The SUMR program was a life-altering experience for me," said Massey. "Just the mentoring part was extremely valuable. I really had a chance to try out some of these research strategies and creative methologies that I'm really interested in now. Currently, Massey is a PhD candidate at the University of California, San Francisco, majoring in the Sociology of Health and Illness. She receives her degree next year; her dissertation explores the responses to chronic illness among religious African American women.

"Faith is an orientation toward hope that carries women through a lot of situations and affects their health behavior choices as well," said Massey. "My research looks at the meanings that religion creates and the experience of chronic illness. As I interviewed women throughout the San Francisco Bay area, I actually use a methodology that I learned at Penn during the SUMR program."

"A lot of my findings relate to churches and the ways those can be empowering spaces for women in times of illness and also the ways they somehow limit women's choices or encourage them to make choices that value the needs of others over their own," Massey said.

While completing her dissertation, Massey serves as a Community Health Educator, providing training workshops in health education, social determinants of health, and navigating the health care system to access services required by chronically ill patients.