Bria Peacock, a third-year student at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, has received an Association of American Medical Colleges 2019 Herbert W. Nickens Medical Student Scholarship.
The $5,000 scholarship, one of only five awarded each year, goes to rising third-year medical students who demonstrate leadership in eliminating inequities in medical education and health care and in addressing the needs of minorities.
“Bria is an outstanding, professional leader who continuously works to eradicate educational and health disparities through national and international service and research,” says MCG Dean Dr. David Hess. “Efforts in her own community, serving and empowering teenage girls and young mothers in Augusta to lower rates of sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies, are truly remarkable.”
Peacock, who plans to pursue a career in obstetrics and gynecology, is the founder of SIHLE (Sisters Informing Healing Living and Empowering) Augusta, a program she started as a first-year student that works to address the sexually transmitted disease, HIV, and teenage pregnancy rates through discussion-style sessions for girls ages 14-18 and for teen mothers. The program includes a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-based curriculum and seeks to empower black girls through safer sex education, including abstinence, building self-esteem and confidence, assertiveness in communication skills and assessing values and goal setting.
“The goal is for the girls to know self-love, self-respect, self-care and self-responsibility,” Peacock says. She has graduated three classes of teen moms and teen girls from the program and her work has been recognized by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists District IV Medical Student Group.
“In my 13 years on faculty, I have come across some incredible students, but I have never met anyone as exceptional as Bria,” wrote Dr. Erin Latif, director of medical student education in the MCG Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, in a nomination letter. “She is the definition of tenacity, determination and fortitude.”
While at MCG, Peacock has traveled to Peru, where she performed Pap smears and gave HPV vaccinations in a portion of the world where cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among women. In Kenya, she helped deliver babies and counseled patients, which helped her better understand the obstetrical needs in markedly underserved areas.
Nationally, Peacock has conducted research projects with the CDC, the Howard Hughes Medical Research Scholars program and Emory University’s Trauma Project. Since starting at MCG in 2017, she has worked on projects on reducing cardiovascular disease risk in at-risk populations and better detection of early pathology in cervical cancer.
She has helped coordinate the annual MCG Igniting the Dream of Medicine Conference, bringing to campus over 500 high school and college students from populations underrepresented in medicine to learn about medical school and the health professions. She also is clinic coordinator for a free women’s clinic, which serves uninsured and underserved women in the community, and she was elected community service chair for the MCG Chapter of the Student National Medical Association.
Peacock is a 2016 graduate of Georgia State University.
The late Dr. Herbert W. Nickens was the founding vice president of the AAMC Division of Community and Minority Programs, now the Diversity Policy and Programs Unit. His work had a significant positive impact on the support that underrepresented minorities in medicine receive, and the Nickens Scholarships aim to continue advancing his “lifelong commitment to supporting the educational, society and health care needs of racial and ethnic minorities.”