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Nada Mays Uses Her Education to Improve Community Health

Nada Mays Uses Her Education to Improve Community Health


Morristown, NJ (August 3, 2021) – "I joined the Peace Corps to better understand the world," explains Nada Mays, who served in the Kingdom of eSwatini, a small landlocked country in the southern region of Africa. "As a Black and Palestinian person, I am very aware of how some regions of the world are portrayed in a falsely negative light."

While living in eSwatini for two years, Nada gained first-hand experience with the HIV pandemic. When she returned to the U.S., she was offered a position with a local community agency. In this role, she worked with incarcerated residents who were about to be released and counseled them about living with HIV.

"Being released after 30 years can be like stepping into a whole new world because long terms of incarceration leaves residents with large gaps of knowledge," explains Nada. "It's important that they know how to stay safe and what resources are available to support them in staying healthy."

She would spend her days helping these incarcerated individuals living with HIV gain access to community-based organizations that could provide long-term support. Additionally, she would help them make doctor's appointments, submit documentation for housing, applying for SNAP benefits and help them with emergency assistance.

"This work really opened my eyes to the prejudice and stigma people face during and after incarceration," says Nada.

Interested in continuing to build a career in public health, Nada decided to enter SEU's master's in nutrition/dietetic internship program. She was drawn to the community and public health nutrition curriculum because it covered the social determinants of health, such as systemic racism.

But Nada's interest in the field of nutrition has a more personal beginning.

"I grew up in a home where we made everything from scratch. My childhood friends used to come over and eat the Palestinian dishes my mom prepared but as I grew older, I found cooking to be therapeutic," says Nada. "I'm earning my master's because I want to spread nutrition education and promote health equity in underserved communities."