NASHVILLE, Tenn. Marjorie Faith Christian-Hardwick, MPP, recently joined the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance (MVA) as Program Manager for the Meharry Medical College/Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center /Tennessee State University Cancer Partnership (MVTCP). She hopes to draw on her experience in public policy to further community-based research in Tennessee.
“I really am committed to the community aspect of this,” she said. “I would love for there to be more people involved in clinical trials, and to take advantage of all the opportunities that we have.”
Faith has a long history of, in her own words, “wanting to do something about it.” Her mother was a nurse and emphasized the importance of volunteering and helping in the community throughout her childhood.
It’s little surprise that after Faith received her Bachelor’s in Anthropology from the University of Kentucky, she joined AmeriCorps.
“I loved being able to directly talk to people in the community, and see what they needed,” she recalled. “But there’s a lot of institutional and financial barriers, and sometimes there’s only so much you can do from a public health perspective.”
These experiences convinced Faith that the best way she could help was by reshaping opportunity at the policy level.
“There were a lot of things that I saw, structurally, that I thought, ‘I can do something about that,’” she said. “I know that’s kind of lofty, but that’s how I felt. I love public service, it was important to me, and I wanted to expand on what public service could mean to me.”
As a result, Faith chose to pursue her Master of Public Policy from Vanderbilt University. But when her graduation came amid the height of a global pandemic, and a subsequent freeze on government hiring, she had to find another way she could follow her mantra and do something about it.
An Opportunity to Do More
Faith became a Program Manager with the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center; her work focused on promoting and maintaining the MVTCP, a partnership among Tennessee universities with the shared goal of eliminating cancer disparities through a balanced approach encompassing basic, translational, clinical, and population science.
An opportunity to do more brought Faith to the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance.
“The Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance just fits in so well with what we want to be doing with the U54 (the grant under which the MVTCP operates),” she explained. “We’re working in the same populations, and the MVA presents a really great opportunity to reach out to communities, especially the black community, and other underserved populations.”
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.