Public Health Research Brings Student, Professor Together

First-generation college student seizes opportunity; mentor opens even more doors for her
Maya Baughn and her mentor, Amanda Grimes

The heart of UMKC is our campus community. With lots of opportunities, it’s easy to develop student mentorship teams. And these rich relationships—our Dynamic Duos—are some of our best success stories.

When Maya Baughn heard that the health sciences program was looking for student research assistants, she immediately reached out for more details.

She met about the opportunity over Zoom with Amanda Grimes, assistant professor of health sciences, and the two clicked. Given Baughn’s curiosity and positive personality, Grimes said, “I could tell right away she was a great fit for our team!”

In high school, Baughn had nurtured her interest in health care by getting involved in health related classes, clubs and organizations. One summer she spent a week at the School of Nursing and Health Studies under the KCHealthTracks program, which exposes high school students to health career options and professional connections.

“I just loved it,” Baughn said.

Then she took the leap to enroll at UMKC, becoming the first person in her family to go to college. “I felt lost when I first started,” she said. “Since then I have unapologetically grown in my confidence.”

Having Grimes as a mentor opened even more doors.

“I enjoy watching young people find passions, learn through hands-on experiences and begin to carve out a path to their academic and professional goals.”

 

 

—Amanda Grimes

Grimes is a principal investigator for the school’s Move More, Get More program, which measures the effects of the fitness activities and nutrition resources that the program brings to middle school students. For Baughn, who is interested in fitness and health advocacy, the research assistant position was perfect and allowed her to work regularly with Grimes.

A good mentor, Grimes said, can promote student success by providing a personal champion, “some who is rooting for them when things get challenging”; nominating students for scholarship and grant opportunities; and helping them build their resumes.

Baughn will take advantage of one such opportunity in mid-April, presenting results virtually to legislators and others in Jefferson City for the University of Missouri system’s Undergraduate Research Day.

“It wasn’t long after Maya became a research assistant that I recognized her natural ability to communicate with people of different ages and backgrounds, even on topics such as research,” Grimes said. “When I saw the opportunity to present at the Capitol, she immediately came to mind. These students are tasked with discussing their research outside the research and academic world, which takes skill.”

Baughn, who is on track to graduate in May 2022, is looking forward to that opportunity — and to continued growth with Grimes’ help.

“My mentor has helped me grow as a person by providing me opportunities to expand my social network, my research skills and knowledge on many different topics,” Baughn said. “Dr. Grimes has challenged me by exposing me to new areas of research, such as work involving older adults.”

Baughn added: “UMKC has solidified my interest in advanced medicine while also exposing me to aspects of health care I never imagined before. I love research and health advocacy. UMKC has allowed me to learn a lot about those two things while studying for my bachelor of health sciences degree.”

For her part, Grimes said, “I enjoy watching young people find passions, learn through hands-on experiences and begin to carve out a path to their academic and professional goals. Most of all, they are fun to be around.”

Published: Mar 26, 2021

Top Stories