Hồng and Wallick share Rebecca Copeland’s (MPP/MPH ’21) commitment to health equity
Two graduate students, Phong Khai Hồng (MPP/MS, ’24) and Danielle Wallick (MPP/MURP, ’23) have been named the first recipients of the Ford School’s Rebecca A. Copeland (MPP/MPH ’21) Fellowship, in recognition of their commitment to public service and health equity.
Hồng is pursuing a dual master’s degree in public policy and computational epidemiology. He is a first-generation immigrant to the U.S., and hopes to return to Vietnam as a global health practitioner and researcher. “I would like to work in policy-oriented mathematical modeling,” he says, “leveraging the wealth of existing information and data on global disease outbreaks to shape a healthier, more sustainable future.
Wallick is pursuing dual degrees in public policy and urban & regional planning. She has spent much of her career to date building an understanding of affordable housing as a social determinant of health. “We know that zip code can have a significant impact on future outcomes,” she says. “Low-income families and children of color are disproportionately likely to live in lower-opportunity neighborhoods, negatively impacting economic and health outcomes.”
Wallick intends to build a career supporting comprehensive housing policy that “places all neighborhoods on an equitable playing field and gives all residents a chance at economic mobility and the fulfilling and healthy life they desire.”
The fellowship was established by the Copeland family in fall 2021 in memory of Rebecca Copeland (MPP/MPH ’21). Rebecca died just months after completing her dual master’s degrees from the University of Michigan. She was an exceptional human, beloved by her classmates and teachers.
In a joint statement, Rebecca’s parents, David and Elizabeth Copeland, said, “It is our intention that the fund at the Ford School support students who share Rebecca’s dreams of improving health and health care for everyone through bold policy change and health system reform.”
For Hồng and Wallick, the Copeland Fellowship comes with an inspiration beyond the financial support.
Hồng hopes to “embody (Rebecca’s) values for equity and inclusion through my studies and work in infectious disease policy. The scholarship ensures that I can further my academic goals without being compromised by financial restrictions and status being a first-generation graduate student.”
Wallick says, “I was truly honored to be named one of the inaugural Rebecca Copeland fellows. I took a class with Rebecca last winter about community development and economic mobility in the deep south, and I was inspired by her. Her passion and dedication, among other MPPs in the class, are a major reason I committed to a dual degree with Ford.”
“I hope to carry on in my career amplifying our shared values and making a tangible impact on housing and health justice.”
“From the tragedy of losing Rebecca, I am so grateful that we can offer fellowships to students who are also committed to public service work focused on health equity and social justice,” said Paula Lantz, James B. Hudak Professor of Health Policy and one of Rebecca’s mentors.
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