Debra and Rufus Glasper established the Glasper Family Scholarship at SCNM in 2018 to support African American students pursuing their ND Degree. Dr. Rufus Glasper served on SCNM’s Board of Trustees for nine years and both he and Debra have been longtime supporters of naturopathic medicine and SCNM.
My name is Maame-Mensima Horne, I am a 2nd year medical student at SCNM. I would like to share my warmest appreciation for Debra and Dr. Rufus Glasper for their support of Naturopathic Medicine because this scholarship provided an opportunity to share my journey and to reflect on my unique inspirations that brought me to SCNM. This scholarship also allows me to continue my study of naturopathic medicine and develop tools that will support my future patients when I become a physician.
I was born in Madison, Wisconsin and raised in Miami, Florida, Kokomo, Indiana and Gainesville, Florida. Most of my life was spent in colleges and universities because my mother was an English Professor. This gave me a diverse perspective because I learned to adapt to new environments throughout my childhood. After high school, I stayed in Gainesville, Florida and attended the University of Florida where I earned a Bachelor of Art in Political Science with minors in Economics and African Studies.
My journey to pursue a degree in naturopathic medicine was untraditional. It began my last year at the University of Florida when I found a newly opened herbal store. There, I was introduced to botanical and energy medicine and I gained a new perspective on medicine and healing.
After I graduated, it took time for me to discover my path. Along the way I gained valuable insights that lead me towards naturopathic medicine. Through my work with non-profit organizations, I learned that low-income communities and communities of color in the South are more likely to be impacted by health disparities including increased incidences of maternal and fetal mortality during childbirth. I witnessed the development of the first community garden sponsored farmer’s market that accepted SNAP benefits in Overtown, a black neighborhood and food desert in Miami. I taught yoga for a studio committed to improve the health of individuals with hypertension, diabetes and heart disease and taught mindfulness techniques to children in after school programs in Harlem. As an aspiring actress and performer, I met many people who struggled with their mental health who turned to the arts for healing.
In 2014, I experienced my first major health crisis. I was in Jamaica during the Chikungunya outbreak and upon my return to the US, I experienced mental health challenges. Returning to Florida, a state in which naturopathic medicine is unregulated state, I did not have access to my preferred treatment options due to skepticism and misinformation. As a result, I was told I would have to take medication for the rest of my life.
In 2015, I realized I needed a career change. While I grappled with the decision, I provided private yoga sessions to a man diagnosed with prostate cancer. We spent time discussing his diagnosis and treatment options. He inspired me to transition to study medicine and cancer biology. The summer of 2016, I enrolled at University of North Florida and engaged in research using botanicals to enhance the effectiveness of Taxol, a chemotherapy drug. Additionally, I gained experience in medicine through scribing, volunteering at free clinics, and shadowing physicians.
My experience encouraged me to pursue naturopathic medicine and sparked a desire to increase access to affordable health care that is preventative and provides well-studied medical options. I aspire to contribute to initiatives to educate the public about naturopathic medicine and support the growth and regulation of the profession.
As a physician, I would like to provide individualized care utilizing an integrative approach to medicine. My goal is to practice family medicine with a special focus in Mind Body Medicine and Nature Cure. I have tinkered with the idea of returning to Florida to provide affordable access to naturopathic medicine but I have realized the importance of self-care, which means living in a state that has a wide scope of practice so I can continue to receive the health care that I need to succeed as a physician.
My name is Shamar Amison, I was raised in Baltimore, Maryland and attended Delaware State University for my undergraduate degree. I decided to pursue a degree in naturopathic medicine after receiving my degree in wildlife management and a minor in Africana studies. Pursuing my undergraduate degree made me realize how so many factors in an ecosystem can affect its health and ways we can improve it. I wanted to apply these same concepts to helping people; specifically, women. I’ve always had a passion for women’s health, dermatology, and nutrition. Attending an HBCU played a role in identifying my passions as well as being able to see how diversity and culture can affect our health in a multitude of ways.
For the longest, I thought I wanted to be a doula and assist in natural births, however the more I’ve learned and experienced new things since attending SCNM, I’ve decided I want to put more of a focus on women before and after pregnancy. I believe allowing a woman to have control and complete knowledge of her health and body outside of when she is pregnant is imperative to their wellbeing. Today, many women suffer from reproductive disorders and syndromes that affect their quality of life. Often, they are told to just deal with it or have many of the symptoms covered up with birth control and other pharmaceuticals as the best course of action for treatment. Other times, they are misdiagnosed or not even paid attention to. This particularly happens with women of color.
I was recently diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and for many years I continuously told doctors something is not right and presented various issues. I was told a medley of different things but all of them ultimately ending in telling me there was nothing to worry about. By the time a doctor noticed some red flags and diagnosed me with PCOS I had a HbA1c of 6.1. As a young African American woman with history of type two diabetes on both sides of my family, I was deeply afraid for my health. My physician told me there was nothing they could do except prescribe me statins and hormonal birth control. For me, that was not the route I wanted to take. When I saw my naturopathic doctor and told them my diagnosis, we began to formulate a plan that would be centered around improving my diet and adding various supplements that would aid in my hormonal imbalance. Going through that journey is a testimony and motivation for myself to help other women going through a similar narrative and allow them the freedom of different options for their health and wellbeing that naturopathic medicine provides. For me, it provided the continued reassurance that naturopathic medicine is the route for me and that taking control of your diet and lifestyle can aid in the success of anyone’s health journey.
When it comes to skin, I always remember my mother telling me; “when you look good you feel good.” Your skin is not only your first line of defense, but the first thing people see when you meet them, having chronic skin problems can affect a person’s self-esteem. When I have free time one of my favorite things to watch is a doctor called “Dr. Pimple Popper.” She does procedures from removing lipomas, cysts, and blackheads. Seeing how she can change someone’s life and self esteem is a truly motivating thing that I wish to one day achieve and do myself. Once again, reproductive health can play a role in this as well however regardless of the gender, I believe everyone should be given the opportunity to feel comfortable in their skin.
When I become a naturopathic doctor, I see myself going back to the Baltimore, Maryland area and helping people in their own health journey and to provide them the freedom and knowledge to take control of their bodies. I plan on doing this by starting my own practice as well as opening my own produce markets, particularly near food deserts in order to provide access and flexibility to those that can’t get fresh food as readily. I also plan on raising awareness on reproductive health and being an advocate for women to ask questions about their body. I want to be able to help end the stigma that pain and discomfort are associated to reproductive health. Receiving this scholarship would aid in my academic career by being able to attend different types of conferences and shadow different types of doctors that focus on the things I am passionate about and learn new things in these unique fields for me to become a well-versed doctor in my niche.
I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to the Glasper Family for their contribution to not only SCNM and naturopathic medicine but giving me the opportunity to further my academic career for me to become an even better naturopathic doctor and give back to my community. This scholarship essay provided me the chance to truly reflect on my passion and motivation for becoming a naturopathic doctor.