A&S Class of ’24: Darnisha Augustin’s Path Led from Pre-Med to Policy

Darnisha Augustin

This spring, sociology major, Blue Ridge Scholar, first-generation Haitian American student, and member of the Class of ’24, Darnisha Augustin, completed her Distinguished Major Program thesis on the impact of stress on the health behaviors of healthcare professionals, and this fall she’ll attend Cornell University, as a student in one of the nation’s top graduate programs in health administration and policy.

Originally a biology major on the pre-med track, Augustin attended the summer medical leadership program offered by the UVA School of Medicine in her first year, and the experience opened her up to a new way of thinking about her future.

“I learned a lot about what I wanted to do, and I made the decision to change my major.  It was a pivotal moment in my life,” Augustin said.  “UVA has taught me so much about what’s out there and how I can expand my perspective on career possibilities.”

Instead of becoming a doctor, Augustin realized that her calling was to make a difference in how hospitals function, and she realized that the way to get there was through the study of sociology with a concentration in health.

“I’m passionate about understanding the intersection of healthcare and organizational systems, and that was much more aligned with the sociology major,” Augustin explained.

As a student, she’s also spent time working at UVA Health as a mobility technician, working with physical therapists to make sure patients keep moving while they’re in the hospital, and she explained that simple exercises can have a world of an impact on how quickly patients improve and how quickly they can get out of the hospital setting.

Describing herself as a shy and hesitant high school student, Augustin said she didn’t know much about UVA when she applied, but she saw it as an opportunity to challenge herself.  And the challenge has paid off.

Augustin has spent much of her time at UVA in leadership roles in a variety of student organizations.  She is president of the Afro-Hoos Dance Team and vice president of organizations of the Daniel Hale Williams Pre-Health Honor Society, which helps support and guide minority pre-health professional students on their journeys into health care.  She’s also been a member of the Black Student Alliance and the Organization of African Students, and she’s president of the Lambda Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Delta International Honor Society of Sociology.

“I’ve grown so much,” Augustin said.  “I’ve been able to indulge in a diversity of experiences, internships in politics, working in healthcare, scientific research and I’ve volunteered for so many things, and I think that’s the beauty of the College of Arts & Sciences, you’re open to so many opportunities, and that makes you a more well-rounded individual.”

After graduate school, Augustin will pursue a career in hospital administration, working to understand how health care policy can help improve the experience of both patients and healthcare professionals.


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