Meet Our Students

Emeka Agudile, doctoral student

Emeka Agudile, doctoral student Photo: Whitney Waddell

While growing up as a teenager in a rural village in Southeastern Nigeria, I noticed that a lot of women and children frequently suffer disabilities and also die from preventable causes. The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was when two of my brothers died before their fifth birthdays as a result of malaria infection. As a result, I made up my mind then to become a physician in order to assist in preventing these unnecessary deaths. Upon graduation from medical school, I immediately invested my energy in the treatment of diseases that afflict mostly women and children especially at the grassroots. As a community–based physician, who has practiced clinical medicine for over six years at both the private and public health sectors in Nigeria, I have come to realize the near total lack of public health care professionals and infrastructure especially at the grassroots. I also realized that there is a missing piece in our health system; the necessary linkage between clinical practice and public health is virtually absent. This influenced my desire to make a transition from clinical medicine to public health. After receiving an MPH with a focus on maternal and child health, I enrolled in the Doctor of Public Health (DPH) program at HSPH. I am currently a second year doctoral student in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. I am also presently working with Dr. Sophie Allende of the Department of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital at the Martha Eliot Health Center on a project aimed at improving the health literacy among adolescents with chronic medical conditions to ensure compliance and smooth health care transition to adult care. At the same time I am also working with Dr. Alan Geller, senior lecturer in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, on a secondary database that looks at the effect of second hand smoking on the health outcomes of infants. My hobbies include swimming, cycling, playing football and watching comedy movies.



Kia Davis, doctoral student

Before joining HSPH, Kia worked for three years in the Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) bringing a health disparities lens to her work. While there she assisted in the strategic planning, coordination, development, and implementation of research announcements and activities. She was also involved in the design, implementation and analysis of the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS). This work fostered Kia’s interests in social determinants of health and identifying structural barriers of health and health behaviors. At HSPH, Kia is a Cancer Prevention Fellow and her dissertation research focuses on the social patterning of stress and how perceived stress is associated with cancer prevention behaviors.  She remains interested in social determinants of health and health behaviors and would like for her work to inform social change, particularly at the organizational and policy level to ultimately eliminate health disparities. In thinking broadly about organizational change during her time at HSPH, Kia has created an evaluation plan for the Healthy Corner Store Initiative, a CDC Community Transformation Grantee and led the development of a survey designed to identify characteristics of organizational readiness for adopting integrated health promotion and worksite wellness programs for small-to-medium sized businesses for HSPH’s Center for Work, Health and Wellbeing. Additionally, Kia has been engaged in student life as a member of the Black Student Health Organization and former SBS department representative for HSPH’s Student Government. As a teacher before her public health career, she has continued to enjoy teaching and mentoring while serving as a TA for Dr. Glorian Sorensen’s Community Intervention Research Methods, Dr. JudyAnn Bigby’s Lessons in Leadership: Developing a Population Based Approach to Health and Human Services Delivery, and Dr. Ichiro Kawachi’s Society and Health. Kia received her BA in Spanish from Washington University in St. Louis, MO and her MPH from Saint Louis University School of Public Health. Originally from Memphis, TN her interests include spending time with friends, food (cooking and eating), and yoga.


Tracey Fredricks, masters student

Tracey Fredricks, masters student Photo: Whitney Waddell

Tracey Fredricks is a returning two-year masters student who received her B.A in Sociology from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor (Go Blue!).  Prior to joining HSPH, she worked for 3 years as the lead Research Coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine, where she worked on a large-scale survey-based study on the racial difference in BRCA 1 & 2 testing among black and white women. The purpose of the study was to delve deeper into the core determinants contributing to the differences in genetic testing among women with early onset breast cancer. Tracey’s work over the last few years has shaped her desire to continue to explore health disparities within the black community and their ties to social and behavioral determinants. Her career interests revolve around evidence-based public health and community involvement, as well as the translation of research into viable programs and interventions. While balancing her leadership roles as the Co-President of Black Student Health organization, Vice President of the Nigerian Students and Scholars Society, and the SBS Department Representative on HSPH’s Student Government, in her first year Tracey also became an intern at Cambridge Public Health Department’s Men’s Health League and at the Institute of Community Health. Tracey is assisting both organizations on their joint Cambridge Fatherhood Initiative project, where they hope to gain an understanding on how to better serve fathers through policies and programs in the Cambridge area. She is also assisting the Men’s Health League with the development and implementation of various health-related programs built for men of color. Tracey hopes to one day become a leader in community-based participatory research and an advocate for the improvement of the health status of vulnerable and under-served populations.


Allegra Gordon, doctoral student

Allegra Gordon, doctoral student Photo: Whitney Waddell

Allegra Gordon is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, with a concentration in Women, Gender and Health (WGH). Allegra received a BA in Education & Environmental Studies from Swarthmore College and an MPH in Sociomedical Sciences, with a concentration in Sexuality and Health, from Columbia University. Her research interests relate to the mental and physical health impacts of discrimination and to the effects of gender norms and gender expression-related stigma on the health of young people. During her time at HSPH she has been a member of the steering committee for the WGH Interdisciplinary Program, the Queer Student Alliance, and the Growing Up Today Study’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity & Expression working group (SOGIE).  She is also a Trainee with STRIPED, HSPH’s Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders, for which she has worked on projects related to body image and the spatial context of cosmetic procedures businesses in U.S. cities. She loves being a TA and is currently a TA for Dr. Nancy Krieger’s Theories of Disease Distribution & Health Inequities course and Dr. Bryn Austin’s Sexuality & Public Health course. She is also the program coordinator for Fenway Health’s Summer Institute in LGBT Population Health Research, an NIH-sponsored month-long quantitative methods training program held each summer at The Fenway Institute in Boston. Allegra hails from Berkeley, CA and Philadelphia, PA. She enjoys offbeat museums, eating, riding her bike around town, and darkroom photography.


Steven Hafner

Steven Hafner, doctoral student Photo: Susan Young

Steven Hafner, MA, CHES is a second-year doctoral student in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences concentrating in health communication.  Steven was born and raised in Custer, SD (pop. 1,860) in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  While his mother is a first-generation American, his father was an original American and a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.  Prior to HSPH, he obtained his BA in evolutionary anthropology and German studies from Duke University, and an MA in health education from Columbia University.  Steven is also a certified health education specialist (CHES).  Before pursuing public health, Steven worked in natural resources, spending five seasons with the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks.  Three of these years, he was a naturalist, charged with designing and implementing interpretive programs on a variety of topics.  Steven then worked for the Juvenile Division of the South Dakota Department of Corrections at the State Treatment and Rehabilitation Academy as a wellness instructor.  This position entailed overall health education for adjudicated youth, including physical activity, nutrition, and hygiene, as well as individual and group counseling.  In 2013, Steven interned with the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board in Rapid City, SD, completing violence-related mortality analyses for tribal communities in the four-state Aberdeen Area of the Indian Health Service (IHS).  This summer, Steven worked with the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, which serves tribes in the Portland Area of the IHS, on their health website,  Overall, Steven’s interests include health communication broadly, from targeted interventions to social media and mass communications.  He will use the skills gained at HSPH to work for tribal communities on issues of tribal priority.


Hana (Hanae) Hayashi, doctoral student

Hana (Hanae) Hayashi, doctoral student

Hana is a doctoral student in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS). Her primary interests are community interventions, health communications, and social determinants of health. Hana grew up in Japan. Prior to HSPH, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social Science from Waseda University in Tokyo, a Master of Education in Educational Media and Technology from Boston University School of Education, and a Master of Science from HSPH. Hana works as a strategic planner in the Public Health department at McCann Health, one of the largest global health communication agencies, where she has conducted health communication research and campaigns around the world. In addition to her current job, she has a wide range of international experience that includes working at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) India Country Office for HIV Prevention and interning at the National Social Marketing Center in the UK. Hana believes that we can truly make a difference by addressing four major disparities between public health and communications, research and practice, public and private, and public health and medicine. Her mission is to create healthier communities where people can maximize their lives, both in Japan and in developing countries, by bridging these gaps. Hana loves to write and cook. She is the author of No Matter What, Keep Going- What Harvard Taught Me for Life (in Japanese). She is also a scholar of the Joint Japan/ World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program.



Alyssa Jordan, masters student
Photo: Andy Gavel

Alyssa Jordan is a returning two-year masters student in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, with a concentration in Health Communication. Prior to pursuing a degree at HSPH, she graduated from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, with a Bachelor of Arts in Health Sciences and Communications. During her senior year, Alyssa undertook a self-directed research project that examined representations of youth alcohol consumption and drinking motivations for women in entertainment media. Her research interests lie in communication strategies to reduce health disparities, impact health policy, and affect behavior change. Upon arriving at HSPH, she took on a research assistant role working with distinguished researcher Dr. K. “Vish” Viswanath. The Viswanath Lab brings together leading researchers to explore evidence-based communication initiatives that address health disparities, improve quality of care, and mobilize communities around key public health issues. Her most recent project was an extensive report for community stakeholders detailing consumers’ health information seeking behaviors and engagement with health care quality information online. As a graduate intern with the American Legacy Foundation, the organization responsible for the award-winning “truth” adolescent anti-tobacco campaign, she broadened her understanding of how knowledge, cultural norms, beliefs, and attitudes learned from communications can influence health behaviors. Her experiences at HSPH have solidified her passion for research that informs and evaluates innovative interventions to improve public health outcomes, particularly for adolescents and vulnerable populations. Alyssa enjoys travelling, live music or theater, and exploring new neighborhoods on foot.