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How a Congressional Fellowship Changed a Career Path

February 11th, 2016

PreventObesity.net | Dallas, TX

By: Allyson Frazier
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Dr. Corey Wiggins, a Mississippi native, was on track to becoming a physician until he participated in a congressional fellowship that changed the direction of his career.

At the time Dr. Wiggins, an undergraduate student at Alcorn State University, was accepted to be a Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholar where he worked on health policy issues for the United State Senate.

“I had a strong desire to help people and to be of service to the community,” Dr. Wiggins said, “It’s then when I realized that as a physician I could only impact one person at a time but through policy I could impact millions.”

Dr. Wiggins’ desire to help others was informed by the civil rights movement and leaders like Theodore Roosevelt Mason (T.R.M.) Howard who provided the black community in Alabama with affordable healthcare while being an activist in the movement. In addition to being physician, T.R.M. Howard was also a successful entrepreneur. The history of T.R.M. Howard rings strong with Dr. Wiggins who is the State Health Chair for the Mississippi State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a Voices for Healthy Kids grantee.

Mr. Wiggins sees himself as a translator for the community who can incorporate voices from the community to frame and inform policy. There is a lot of information in academia and at the capitol, he said, but it is not readily available to our community members or understandable with practitioners on the ground.

“It’s all about how you frame the issue, and I prefer to think of communities as places with assets instead of working out of a place of a deficit, to identify solutions,” Dr. Wiggins said. In his view there are many assets in the community that can be leveraged to create healthier communities. For example, schools can encourage healthy eating by creating community gardens.

“By making innovative policy changes we may be able to create healthier communities while also connecting people with better paying jobs,” Dr. Wiggins said.

Dr. Corey Wiggins, a Mississippi native, is the Director of the Hope Policy Institute, the policy division of HOPE (Hope Enterprise Corporation and Hope Credit Union).  As director, Dr. Wiggins manages the strategic direction, sustainability, research training and advocacy agenda for the Institute. Dr. Wiggins completed his undergraduate studies at Alcorn State University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology.  He also holds a Master of Science of Public Health with an emphasis in Health Policy and a Doctor of Philosophy in Health Promotion and Health Education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Connect with the Mississippi NAACP @MSNAACP and Dr. Wiggins @HPOLICY_COREY on Twitter.

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