Dajah Nash
Category: 2020 College Winner

Dajah Nash

University of Montevallo

When I started college as a biology student, I knew I wanted to be in the medical field. I wasn’t entirely sure about what profession I wanted to go into, but I knew I wanted to help others and make an impact in my community. I also knew I wanted to be the change that I wanted to see in the medical field. Being a black woman who has grown up in a lower-income area, I know how challenging it can be for women to find physicians who won’t overlook or underestimate our health problems. Sometimes, this difficulty can carry over even into obstetrics and gynecology and can be more challenging for lower-income black women since they are not only looking for good women’s healthcare but also affordable women’s healthcare.

That is why, when I learned of Byllye Yvonne Avery and the strides that she has made for black women’s health in my English class, I had to do more outside research on her. After her husband’s death, Avery decided she wanted to help improve the black community’s health with a focus on women. In the early 1970s, Avery began participating in consciousness-raising groups. While doing this, Avery also noticed an inconsistency in affordable reproductive healthcare being available to lower-income black women and wanted to do something about it. Together, she and other black female activists opened the Gainesville Women’s Health Center in 1974. It became the first black female-focused gynecological care facility to open in the city.

She also founded Birthplace, an alternative birthing center in the city where she and other midwives took care and aided pregnant women with their deliveries. Reading about Avery’s strives to make a difference in black women’s gynecological and obstetrical health inspired me to be an OB/GYN. Avery has been such an inspiration for me due to what she has done for black women’s health because she represents what I aim to do myself. That, if my younger self could see me later in the future, she would be just as inspired and proud of my work to make a difference in my community for black women as I am now of Avery’s. It takes hard work and dedication to strive for making such an impact, and sometimes, it can feel daunting to me on how I will get there. But, learning about someone like Avery who has helped forage the road towards improving women’s healthcare shows me that it is not an impossible endeavor for me to do also. It reminds me that I am also capable of making a positive impact as long as I stay determined and true to my passion: helping the surrounding women in my community.