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Stacy-Ann Christian was 26 years old when she lost her 20-year-old brother, Clive Boxhill, to complications from lupus. Clive had been diagnosed with the chronic autoimmune disorder when he was 14, and he died in 2004, after enduring his sixth open-heart surgery.
At the time, Stacy-Ann was a fledgling attorney, having earned a juris doctor degree from Temple University in 2002. But she'd had nagging doubts even as she studied law. She knew her choices as an attorney were limited: she could live the intense, competitive life of a firm lawyer and be outwardly successful but spiritually unfulfilled, or she could follow her heart into public policy work and spend much of her life paying off her law school loans.
"My brother was my inspiration," Stacy-Ann says. "He knew about my doubts and told me nothing was impossible. I looked at my life -- and at his -- and thought, 'Oh my God, I'm wasting time. I have to do more of the work I believe in.' My brother made me commit to a new direction, to the master's degree in public health."
The decision wasn't easy. Given her student loans and the fact that she would be without an income while she studied, Stacy-Ann could not have attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Public Health without assistance.
Fortunately, help was there for her. The School's Department of Health Policy and Management awarded Stacy-Ann a teaching assistantship for two semesters, and the UNC Graduate School awarded a Scholars for Tomorrow scholarship that covered the remainder of the major costs. She completed her master's degree in 2006.
Stacy-Ann, who moved from Jamaica to the United States with her family when she was 12, eventually would like to spend more time in the country of her birth.
"Childhood friends (of mine) have passed away because medical care there isn't good," she says. "They got 'band-aids' at the hospital, for example, but had undiagnosed internal bleeding. Even the affluent say, 'If I get sick, I'll fly to Miami.' But no one plans for emergencies. I have an uncle who lost an eye because an injury wasn't attended for two days.
"I want to help the children first. In some areas, if it rains, children can't go to school because it's unsanitary or the roof leaks. They come to school hungry. I want to work on environmental and health issues, including school lunch programs. Long-term, I hope to work on the 'big picture' to create coordinated health programs in the country."
Now a grants and contracts manager at Eisai, Inc., a medical research company based in New Jersey, Stacy-Ann wants to give back to other students who have dreams without means. Her $25,000 donation has established The Clive Boxhill Jr. Scholarship in Health Policy at the School of Public Health to honor the brother who dreamed of finishing college and becoming a teacher.
Sandy Moulton, vice president of the Public Health Foundation Board and Stacy-Ann's mentor says she admires Stacy-Ann's ideals.
"I am in awe of someone this early in her career making the move to sponsor a scholarship because of all the sacrifices one has to make," says Moulton, an alumna of the School who is director of the patient assistance program at GlaxoSmithKline. "This is her first professional job after the master's, and already, she's wanting to give back in a way that's meaningful for her and her brother."
"It's important for me to help other students have this chance," Stacy-Ann says. "This is personal for me. Carolina was my home. At a point when I needed a family -- academically, personally and professionally -- the Department of Health Policy and Management and the School of Public Health took an interest in me. I want other people who have the passion to have a chance.
"I grew up with the Biblical text, 'To whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required.' We get quite a lot at Carolina. If you get a little, you should give at least a little back. If you're more fortunate, you should give more. At least, that's what I'm trying to do."
Create a scholarship -- transform a life. Scholarships provide opportunities for talented students who might otherwise not be able to pursue their educational dreams. To discuss the many options for establishing a named scholarship, contact the Office of External Affairs at (919) 966-0198. It's easier than you might think!
Make a donation to the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.
~ By Linda Kastleman
|Last updated February 04, 2013|