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John Jay Alum Wizdom Powell Appointed to Prestigious White House Fellowship

September 8, 2011, New York, NY -- Of the many degrees that Wizdom Powell has earned during a stellar academic career as a scholar of health education and the racial healthcare experience, the first of these came from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 1998.

Powell, who has been appointed a White House Fellow for the prestigious program's 2011-2012 term, graduated summa cum laude from John Jay with a bachelor's degree in Forensic Psychology. In addition to being a Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program scholar, Powell was also a winner of the College's Thurgood Marshall Award.

White House Fellows typically spend a year as full-time, paid assistants to senior White House Staff, the Vice President, Cabinet Secretaries and other top-ranking government officials. In return for the privilege of participating in the Fellowship year, Fellows are expected to apply what they have learned by contributing to the nation as greater leaders in their respective communities, professions, and in public service. Placements are made often outside of a Fellow's area of expertise. Powell has been assigned to the US Department of Defense.

She has most recently served as an Assistant Professor of Health Behavior and Health Education (HBHE) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) Gillings School of Global Public Health and a UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center faculty member. Powell's community-based domestic research examines the impact of neighborhood, healthcare, and socioeconomic resources on racial health disparities, with an emphasis on vulnerable African-American males.

"There are a lot of things happening at once – it's a perfect storm to create cancer disparities," she wrote in a 2009 report issued by the President's Cancer Panel. "What often happens under this level of complexity is that we trade off the structural issues – in an attempt to remove the visible or economic barriers to good health – but don't address longstanding cultural and relationship characteristics that also influence disparities. The panel addressed all of these issues and didn't shy away from the complexity this approach creates," said Powell, who gave expert testimony about racial/ethnic minority healthcare experiences.

Prior to her positions at UNC, Powell was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar at the University of California, San Francisco and Berkeley. She is an American Psychological Association (APA) Minority and Ford Foundation Pre-doctoral Fellow who received a Ph.D. and M.S. in Clinical Psychology and M.P.H. in HBHE from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. In recognition of outstanding dissertation research, Wizdom received APA's Division 51 Loren Frankel Award. Powell has also been the recipient of the Malcolm-King Leadership Award and the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program Alumnae of the Year.

Established in 1964, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York is an international leader in educating for justice. It offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. In teaching, scholarship and research, the College approaches justice as an applied art and science in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit