Meet Shevon Harvey: Professor, Researcher, Advocate

October 16, 2009

The issue of health care reform is being debated in living rooms, Congressional offices, and at watercoolers around the country. Currently, both the House and Senate are continuing to seek out a way to meld together all the different versions of the bills into one that might get enough support to pass.

Shevon Harvey, a 1998–99 Career Development Grant Recipient, has her finger on the pulse of the health care debate in the Midwest. She says that in the Midwest there are strong feelings on both sides of the debate but little middle ground. As a public health researcher and University of Illinois professor, Shevon wants to add research to the debate about who is actually using free health care clinics and who is not.

One of the myths swirling around the health care reform debate is that the new health care plan would provide free health care for illegal immigrants. In fact, tensions about this very issue pushed Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) to shout his infamous “You lie!” response during President Obama’s address to Congress in early September.

Shevon Harvey with studentsCurrently, Shevon has seen mainly working people using the free clinic she has been studying in Champaign, Illinois. Sometimes the clinic clients are people who are working two part-time jobs in the service sector. Other times they are underinsured. “My goal is to get the research out there to show the importance of health care reform,” said Shevon.

Before pursuing her master’s degree at Morehouse, Shevon worked as a materials science engineer. Then, in her late 20s, she decided to return to school to focus on public health. She was inspired by her community work with breast cancer survivors and with students. After those experiences, Shevon decided she wanted to see community health from the other side. “I wanted to be part of prevention, rather than the treatment.” In addition to her courses, Shevon was able to apply her knowledge and experience in meaningful ways. Working with two different Morehouse professors, she helped address school safety concerns through community projects developed in response to the tragic shooting at Columbine High School in 1999.

AAUW instilled in Shevon the confidence she needed to pursue higher education. “I would not have thought about going back to school if it wasn’t for the fellowship,” confessed Shevon. She said that before receiving the grant if someone had asked her if she would pursue a doctorate, she would have just laughed. “Because of AAUW, I went through an institution that nurtured me, mentored me, gave me hope, and got me where I am now.”

By:   |   October 16, 2009


  1. Patricia J botting. Ph.D says:

    Re Health Care. I have witnessed various attempts to provide health care that actually works for all individuals over the years I have lived in the USA. I doubt that the current debate will produce anything but more of the same. Americans do not need health care reform, they need a nation wide health delivery system that delivers health service at the point of delivery i.e when one is sick! This is a no brainer. Every other industrialized nation has managed it by the simple device of having everyone in the nation contribute a small sum of money every week/month of their working lives into a specific fund which returns medical services to individuals when they need it. The cash is not used for any other purpose. It works.
    Americans who have had medical treatment in other countries know the truth of this.

  2. Christina says:

    Interesting outsider/insider perspective P.J.B.

    Shevon: As an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois, I am excited to learn about your experience, background, and motivation behind your work. While living in the C-U area it is hard to miss the many low-income working families struggling with their day-to-day lives.

    These are the areas that many policy makers are ignoring and need to be exposed to.

    Your story backed by AAUW’s fellowship is inspiring!

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