JSU doctoral student selected for national leadership program – first and only one in Mississippi
(JACKSON, Miss.) — Jackson State University doctoral student TyKera
“Kera” Marrow has been selected to participate in Health Policy Research
Scholars, a leadership program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Marrow is the first student from a Mississippi institution to be selected
for the program. She joins the program’s fourth cohort, which includes 59
other doctoral students from various universities.
Designed for doctoral students from historically marginalized backgrounds
and populations underrepresented in specific disciplines, Health Policy
Research Scholars help researchers from all fields apply their work to
policies that advance equity and health while building a diverse field of
leaders who reflect changing national demographics.
The program also provides an annual $30,000 stipend, which can be used for
educational and living expenses.
In early October, Marrow’s cohort attended a virtual two-day fall
institute, including administrators and speakers. The event centered on
leadership, collaboration across disciplines and how to use research to
“This was the most interactive and engaging digital forum I have
participated in,” Marrow said. “There was music, small interactive groups,
team-building exercises, moments of reflection, honoring ancestors and
other indigenous bodies, collaborative engagement, etc.”
After the experience, Marrow said participants tweeted about how close
they all felt despite not meeting physically.
“We’ve met twice since then during our biweekly courses, and the effects
of the fall institute were evident because the other scholars were eager
to engage with one another. It was a wonderful start to years of community
and interdisciplinary partnership,” she said.
In 2018, Marrow attended RWJF’s summer institute while doing a fellowship
with the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute. She was then introduced
to a representative of the foundation and encouraged to apply.
“I applied in January of 2020. I was then invited for an interview via
zoom in April and selected as a finalist in July.”
For Marrow, who is studying clinical psychology, the opportunity is a
“It has allowed me to breathe and decrease my worry about certain
expenses,” the Baltimore, Maryland, native said. “This funding will assist
me in educational and daily living expenses, research projects, electronic
updates, and other tools that I need to be successful as I complete my
After graduation from JSU, Marrow will seek licensure as a psychologist.
Her areas of interest center on ethnic, gender and sexual minority health
“I have always had an interest in health but never wanted to pursue
medicine. During my master’s program, I learned about medical/health
psychology and became invested in learning more about the
intersectionality of behavioral and physical health,” she shared.
Discovering more about the rising Black maternal and infant mortality
disparity in America, Marrow became more invested in this research area.
“Overall, I want to help disseminate and implement culturally sound
clinical research and therapy that decreases the stigmatization of mental
and physical health care utilization to promote oppressed and repressed
populations’ holistic wellness,” she says.
Marrow holds a B.A. in psychology from Trinity Washington University in
Washington, D.C. She has an M.S. in applied counseling psychology from the
University of Baltimore.
On choosing JSU for her doctoral studies, Marrow points out that there are
only three HBCUs in the country that offers a Ph.D. in clinical
“JSU provides me the intimacy and community that I desperately needed to
pursue this degree,” she explained.
The new Health Policy Research Scholar acknowledges Dr. Dawn Bishop-McLin,
professor of psychology, and Andrea Hall, receptionist in the Department
of Financial Aid, for being supportive throughout her time at Jackson
“My cohort members are also phenomenal, and I appreciate all of their love
and support. Most importantly, I want to thank my family and friends at
home who have always encouraged and poured into me.”