Public Health Sciences Student Receives Winston Health Policy Scholarship

Nawara Alawa, a third-year student in the M.D./M.P.H. program at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, has won a $10,000 Winston Health Policy Scholarship. Only 10 students nationwide receive the prestigious award each year.

The scholarship commemorates the contributions and personal qualities of David A. Winston who, for 20 years prior to his death in 1986, played a significant role in shaping American health policy.

Recipients are selected based on their expressed and demonstrated commitment to health policy, leadership, academic achievement, community involvement and long-term career interest in health policy.

In addition to receiving the financial assistance, winners also participate in a one-day symposium on health policy in Washington, D.C.

A Miami native, Alawa studied microbiology as a UM undergraduate, then spent a year working at the Brookings Institution, a policy research group, before entering medical school with the goal of becoming a pediatrician.

“I grew up in Miami, a city full of the life and vibrancy of people from all over the world,” said Alawa. “I have always loved hearing their stories, which I find compelling. I believe strongly that the job of a physician is to be compelled to advocate for our patients as individuals — for their comfort, their health, and the best possible treatment we can provide them.”

At the Brookings Institution, however, her work required a broader view of medicine. Alawa worked on videos about the American health care system for Khan Academy, and developed case studies that highlighted innovation in payment and delivery reform that ultimately reduced costs to the system and improved outcomes for patients.

“That was where I figured out that I wanted to be a public health physician, and why I chose to pursue my M.D. and M.P.H. degrees at the Miller School,” Alawa said. “As we broaden our focus to the population level, we have scale our solutions to address patterns across large groups of patients, and the long-term solutions are often deeply rooted in policy.”

“We are incredibly proud of her, and mark my words, she will one day be Secretary of Health and Human Services,” said Alberto Caban-Martinez, Ph.D., D.O., M.P.H., assistant professor of public health sciences, who wrote one of the recommendation letters for Alawa’s application to the Winston scholarship program. “She has an amazing spirit, passion and tenacity for population-level medicine and public health.”

More information about the Winston Health Policy Scholarship is available here.

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