A Closer Look: Latrice Goosby
Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
Latrice Goosby doesn't back down from a challenge - even when it's nearly 1,500 miles away. The second-year student at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy split her time this summer between Jackson, Mississippi, and the state's rural Delta area, where she tried to gain a better understanding of the medical problems - obesity, diabetes and heart disease - that plague the area's African-American residents. Through this endeavor, she hoped to shed light on health and nutritional problems affecting this population and build an appreciation for research and science in these communities, which have resisted similar efforts in the past.
Why Me? Why Here?
"Both projects are working on health disparities [between different populations], which is really what drew my attention," Goosby said. "But, originally, how everything got started was I wanted to work in an African-American population, since I'm African-American, and, growing up, I noticed a lot of problems and it seemed like no one ever talked about those things. I wanted my research to be related to something that I thought could help my community in a broader sense."
Goosby said she recognized that community members were resistant to changing their traditional food recipes, which had been passed down from generation to generation. In order to combat this, she set up a nutrition and food-tasting program in a local church.
"We went in there to talk about food groups with them, and then had them name the food groups and name the foods that they liked," Goosby recalled. "At the end we did a taste testing of different dairy foods, like yogurt, [because] we wanted the kids to experience all of the different healthy dairy foods that we had..."
"At the very end, a little five-year-old ran up to me and gave me a hug and a kiss and was like, ‘Thank you!' I just thought it was the cutest thing," she said.
The Community As Classroom
According to Goosby, a lot of researchers don't involve the community in their studies "because [they say] it's a lot of work and it's not useful and different things like that."
"I would say after being here, I definitely feel like it is and I've learned how productive it can be," Goosby said.
The Big Picture
According to the National Institutes of Health, Mississippi has the highest death rate for cardiovascular disease in the nation.
"[I want to continue] working to change people's health for the better so they can live healthier lives," Goosby said.
This story originally ran on Aug. 22, 2005