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The Springboard: Scholarship supports informatics student’s quest to impact the community

Morgan Foreman
Scholarship support allows PhD student Morgan Foreman to follow her aspirations and qualify for in-state tuition.

Morgan Foreman wanted to help others, and her high-achieving history gave her a springboard to accomplish exactly that.

A PhD student at McWilliams School of Biomedical Informatics at UTHealth Houston, Morgan sought to leverage informatics to improve health disparities among pregnant women. She entered the PhD program with industry experience and publication history, accomplishments that earned her a merit scholarship from the Dean’s Excellence Scholarship Fund during her first year.

We asked Morgan—now entering her final year—about her background in biomedical informatics and how this award is helping to bring her closer to her goals.

Q: Why did you chose biomedical informatics as a field of study?

A: When I initially found out about biomedical informatics, it felt like coming home to a discipline that I truly could be passionate about. I was thinking about going to medical school, and then I really fell in love with the idea of applying technology to health care. Biomedical informatics allows us to take a medical need and use technology and information systems to develop innovative solutions.

Q: Can you elaborate on your research involving health disparities?

A: I'm studying Black pregnant women with hypertensive disorders like preeclampsia because of the maternal health crisis in this country. Black women are three times more likely to die due to pregnancy complications. I'm developing a method for culturally tailoring digital health solutions that we can apply to the issues patients are facing during their maternal health experience, allowing them to better advocate for their care. I collaborate with a doctor at UT Physicians, so I've been able to interact directly with patients and develop research right along the bedside.

Q: What was it like to learn that you had received a scholarship from the Dean’s Excellence Fund?

A: It was an incredible feeling to know that the school wanted to invest in me just as much as I was investing in the school through my work. As I started as an out-of-state master’s student, this merit scholarship qualified me for in-state tuition, and I got emotional knowing that a huge financial burden was about to be lifted from me, and I could truly focus on my classes and research. During my first year as a PhD student, my tuition was covered in full. I am so grateful for these awards and everyone who made it possible.

Q: What are your future plans?

A: After graduation, I hope to take on a Director of Innovation or Chief Information Officer-type role at a biotech or health care system, setting strategies for improving patient care in disparate populations. I have always wanted to do something that truly impacts the community, which is why I have been so passionate about working alongside these pregnant mothers. It truly affects generations to come—their children, families, and the entire community surrounding them.

The generosity of scholarship donors helps dedicated informatics students like Morgan pay for expenses such as tuition and graduate with less debt. As our students work to become the experts who will create a more effective and efficient health system, scholarships can serve as springboards to help them achieve their goals.

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