College Senior Born on Mother’s Day Now Saves Mothers

Student’s work addresses maternal mortality rate in Texas

(Image: Courtesy of Dominique Earland)

 

Dominique Earland wasn’t just born on Mother’s Day—in a sense, her birthright became her destiny. And this year, her birthday will also fall on Mother’s Day and mark the beginning of a week of accolades in recognition of the young scholar’s work.

Socially Engaged Researcher

Earland will be graduating later this month with two undergraduate degrees from Southern Methodist University in Dallas: one in biology (pre-med track) and one in human rights. But from before the ninth grade, she already seemed to be moving toward what would become her life’s work.

The young student arrived on the SMU campus in 2008 as part of the federally funded Physician Scientist Training Program, which encourages youth of color to pursue STEM careers by taking college-level classes and participating in research projects. Through that exposure, Earland learned that SMU was a leader in the field of human rights, another passion of hers.

(Image: Courtesy of Dominique Earland)

“Hearing [EHRP Director] Prof. Rick Halperin talk so passionately about important issues made me see there was another world of learning opportunities out there, ones relevant to me pursuing a career in global health,” she says. In 2012, SMU began offering an undergraduate degree in human rights––“that really sealed the deal that I would attend college here.”

Maternal Health Toolkit

Earland has earned several awards, grants, fellowships, and scholarships. She used her SMU Embrey Human Rights Program Community Outreach Fellowship to develop the 36-page maternal health kit for Dallas-area women.

The guide, Your Right to Health, which offers women medical advice and alerts them to community resources, was developed “to break down barriers to healthcare faced by all women, especially in Texas, where maternal mortality rates have reached an alarming high,” Earland says. The guide was completed with assistance from the Dallas County Fetal-Infant Mortality Review Program, and includes resources for refugees and undocumented immigrants; it also provides information on the Zika virus.

(Image: Courtesy of Hillsman/SMU)

“Did you know a person’s health outcome can be predicted by their zip code?” Earland says. “Race also plays a factor. African American women face harsher healthcare disparities.”

A Gentlewoman and a Scholar

Earland has done research on anemia in pregnancy in western Jamaica, which has been accepted for peer-reviewed publication. She has also done research on teen pregnancy and participated in service projects that took her from Oklahoma to Costa Rica.

(Image: Courtesy Dominique Earland)

The Phi Beta Kappa Scholar has received SMU’s highest honor—the “M” award. In addition, she held a leadership role in the school’s Association of Black Students and volunteered with a program for refugee children, among others.

Along with several college grants and scholarships, Earland received support from her Philadelphia home community, including her family’s house of worship, Bethlehem Baptist Church, and the Black Women’s Educational Alliance, based in Pennsylvania.

Maybe being born on Mother’s Day didn’t set the course for Earland’s life work, but it certainly didn’t hurt!