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Advancing Reproductive Health

Family fund supports women's health and family planning

Ryan Walker, M18, MPH18, has been involved with sexual health education since she was a teenager in South Florida, where rates of new HIV infection are among the highest in the country. Sexual health education, she says, is part of her identity.

Following her first year in the M.D./M.P.H. program, Walker spent the summer participating in the Family Medicine Summer Externship Program at Cambridge Health Alliance Malden Family Medicine Center in Malden, Massachusetts. Working with community health educators at the center and in the local high school, she learned effective strategies for reproductive health counseling and community outreach.

She also conducted research on HPV vaccination rates at the center and shadowed physicians during gynecological procedure clinic. Walker believes that participating in the program has helped her understand the intersection between clinical and public health.

Walker’s externship was funded in part by the Miller Family Fund, which was established to support public health graduate students pursuing advancement of women’s health and family planning. Edward and Janet Miller, MPH14P, created the fund through their philanthropic organization, the WestWind Foundation, which works to help women gain access to health care, specifically by providing resources for family planning. After their daughter Kristi, MPH14, completed her public health degree, they wanted to give back to Tufts in a way that aligned with their foundation’s values.  

While Kristi was a student at Tufts, she designed her own Applied Learning Experience examining sexual education in Colombia. Now Kristi is the program officer for reproductive health at Westwind Foundation. She hopes her family’s gift inspires more students to explore the reproductive health field through externships or Applied Learning Experiences.  

Walker is the first student to receive a stipend from the Miller Family Fund and she says it helped lessen the burden of balancing coursework and traveling between the center, high school, and the women’s reproductive clinic at Cambridge Hospital. “I’m so grateful to have had this experience,” she says. “I’ve learned so much about public health in a clinical setting that I’ll be to apply with my patients in the future.”