Kemi Balogun

“I joined National Health Corps in hopes of fulfilling healthcare needs in a new community while also meeting and learning from people of diverse backgrounds and cultures.”

Educational Background: I earned a BS in Biology and a minor in Psychology  from Wake Forest University

Host Site: Prenatal Patient Advocate at Family Practice & Counseling Network - Health Annex

Why did you join National Health Corps? 
I joined National Health Corps in hopes of fulfilling healthcare needs in a new community while also meeting and learning from people of diverse backgrounds and cultures. During this year of service, I also hope to gain a deeper understanding of the structure and dynamics of the U.S. healthcare system as well as establish where and how I want to operate and serve within it.  In doing so, I hope that I will be able to navigate the system more efficiently as a future health care provider.

What are your plans after AmeriCorps service?
After serving with AmeriCorps I hope to attend medical school. My ultimate goal is to become a practicing psychiatrist, serving marginalized populations who don’t often have access to such specialized care.

Tell us about an employment, service, or research experience that was important to you.
Last summer, I was afforded the opportunity to evaluate the impact of programs offered by GreenTree, a mental health peer support center. During my time at there, I not only was able to collect data via a questionnaire tool that will hopefully lead to program improvements in the future, but I was also able to form genuine relationships with many of the active members. Their desire to share their stories brought new insights to my work, which made it feel meaningful and important, not just for me, but for our community at large. Through those conversations, I began to understand how various prejudices and lack of funding prevent some from accessing quality care, which has led me to consider the many ways I can continue to serve this community as well as others in hopes of dismantling systemic roadblocks that prevent proper access to care.

What first sparked your interest in community service?
My earliest memory of participating in community service would have to be my experience as a Brownie, a young member of the Girl Scouts.  As a troop, we often served our community in little ways, making arts and crafts for our seniors, sometimes visiting them to keep them company, or raking leaves in our neighborhoods, and of course selling our cookies to raise money for a charity. These activities always excited me and left me feeling proud of the difference, no matter how small, we made in our community. From then on, serving became second nature. No matter what community I found myself in, I carried on the tradition of engagement, from elementary school all the way through college, and now as a post grad.

What about Philadelphia excites you the most?
I've never actually visited Philadelphia, but I hear that it's a city filled with character, full of history as well as innovation. As a small town girl, I'm simply excited about finally getting a chance to live in a big city! I'm excited for the hustle and bustle, the people, the art, the food. All of it.

What is your favorite food?
I'm always down for a good Mac and Cheese.

Hometown: Lugoff, SC