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Black in STEM


Rashid Njai

Rashid Njai, Ph.D., M.P.H.


Major and Degree: Biology, B.S.  

Graduation Year: 1999

Current Position: Lead, Minority Health and Health Equity Science Team, Office of Minority Health and Health Equity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Connect: LinkedIn

What motivates you to do/pursue science and/or medicine?

As a servant-leader, I credit good mentorship for my personal, academic, and professional development, and I look forward to being a good mentor for others. 

My undergraduate years provided opportunities to begin as a student leader for Penn State Black Caucus and begin scholar activism research internships: as a Ronald E. McNair Research Scholar and an intern with the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems in Washington, D.C.

After graduating from Penn State, I received both my Ph.D. and M.P.H. from the University of Michigan School of Public Health as a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Health Policy Fellow and American Psychological Association Mental Health Fellow. The investments in me by these institutions allowed me opportunity to fine-tune my focus on community-based scholar activism. 

In my professional career, I have unapologetically followed my passion and focus on the epidemiology of mental and physical health disparities among vulnerable populations, specifically relating to the social determinants of health equity and community resilience.

I maintain a commitment to spirituality and family, and seek opportunities to collaborate with other dedicated scholar-activists in addressing health inequities and advance collective community wellness.

As an affiliate scholar of Michigan’s Center for Research on Ethnicity Culture and Health, I am interested in continuing to explore innovative ways to bolster assets like culture and other innate factors while understanding how they contribute to community empowerment.

As a public health first responder, I hope to continue effective intervention to public health needs through leading domestic/international, chronic/infectious disease investigations, and rapid outbreak responses.    

What does Black History Month mean to you?

The history of African people and their resilience throughout the diaspora over time.    

Anything else you would like to share?

"If you want to travel fast, travel alone. If you want to travel far, travel together.”
—West African proverb