Mar 6th, 2023
Jackson State Community College (JSCC) Honors student Ashlee Ocegueda presented a research essay titled “Do All Lives Really Matter? A History of Racial Discrimination in the American Healthcare System,” at the annual University of Memphis-Lambuth Undergraduate Research Symposium.
Ocegueda’s essay dives into the history of the medical profession in the United States, where African Americans have historically been met with implicit racial biases that have resulted in misdiagnoses, malpractices, and even death. The focus of Ocegueda’s essay was to spark respectful and meaningful conversations regarding systemic racism in the medical field and bring to light the implicit biases that exist.
“In a time where much-needed discussions of systemic racism are being derailed by political buzzwords, I wanted to contribute something that sparked respectful conversations, in a responsible way,” said Ocegueda. “We owe it to the victims to make sure their stories are heard.”
Looking as far back as the Transatlantic slave trade, Ocegueda’s research brings to light the medical fallacies and experiments that were carried out by anatomists and medical professionals throughout U.S. history.
Her research looks not only at the dehumanization of Black bodies, both in life and in death, but also at various experiments that have taken place throughout U.S. history such as the Tuskegee Experiment, Henrietta Lacks’ cell harvesting, and more that has created a sense of distrust between the Black community and healthcare professionals.
Initially written as part of an assignment in her African American History Course in the Fall of 2022, Ocegueda was encouraged to apply to the symposium and was admitted as the sole representative for JSCC.
“I applaud the passion and the tireless work that has gone into Ashlee’s research to bring to light a history many do not know,” said Dr. Jennifer Lopes, VP of Academic Affairs. “Her ability to articulate her research through her writing as well as her presentation reflects the caliber of student enrolled in our online degree programs. This is a subject matter that requires immense detail in how it is prepared and delivered, and her passion for the subject shines through in every way.”
Ocegueda is a non-traditional honors student from Murfreesboro, TN. A mother of two, who is set to complete her degree online through JSCC’s online degree programs. She chose this hard-hitting research topic as it pertains to her future career in nursing. After graduating from JSCC, she will enroll in the nursing program at Belmont University in Fall 2023.
Photo caption: Ashlee Ocegueda (left) and Professor Tammy Prater (right) who was Ocegueda’s professor for the African American History Course that her essay was initially submitted in.