NASHVILLE, Tenn. Freneka Minter, PhD, MS, MCHES, PMP, CCRP, always wanted to help people. From an early age, she was interested in caring for the community and making sure everyone was able to live a healthy life.
“I thought I was going to be a medical doctor,” she recalled.
After attending Riverdale High School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Dr. Minter brought an interest in medicine to her undergraduate degree in chemistry, and master’s in health education, from Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU).
While she may not have become a physician, she earned a PhD in Health Services from Walden University, and went on to become a champion of community health, coalition building, health education and regulatory expertise throughout the state of Tennessee.
As an education coordinator at the Center for Health and Human Services at MTSU, studying and implementing methods of tobacco use prevention, Dr. Minter established a foundation working within community partnerships and forging public health coalitions.
From there, she began her career with the Tennessee Department of Health. She started at the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse and would go on to become a public health educator with the Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention program.
In the later half of 2008, Dr. Minter left her native Nashville, and traveled East to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where she became a health education specialist with Oak Ridge Associate University (ORAU), continuing her work around heart disease and stroke prevention with the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Closer to Home
When asked why she came to VUMC, Dr. Minter acknowledged there were personal reasons as well as professional ones.
“My grandfather was ill,” she explained. “My grandparents raised me while my mom worked two jobs as a single parent, and I was seeking to get back here to help out with my family.”
After an initial interview with Michael E. Matheny, MD, MS, MPH, Dr. Minter spent the next nine years back home, managing the Center for Improving the Public’s Health through Informatics' research portfolio in the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Department of Biomedical Informatics.
“It may have taken nine years to do it, but I’m back where I had the desire to be,” Dr. Minter said, when asked about transitioning to the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance (MVA).
“I’ve always had that interest in health disparities and health equity,” she explained, citing her dissertation on gender differences in health service utilization among veterans with acute kidney injury.
“Right now, I’m seeking to not only be an asset to the MVA, using all my previous experience, but I’m also here to learn and grow.”
About the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance
Founded in 1999, the Alliance bridges the institutions of Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Its mission is to enrich learning and advance clinical research in three primary areas—community engagement, interprofessional education and research—by developing and supporting mutually beneficial partnerships between Meharry Medical College, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the communities they serve. Through community engagement, the Alliance serves a large community of stakeholders including surrounding universities and colleges, community organizations, faith-based outlets and community health centers. Its interprofessional education enhances students' interdisciplinary understanding and improves patient outcomes through integrated care. The research conducted provides access to experienced grant writers and materials supporting the grant application process and facilitates grant-writing workshops.