Winning the title of Miss Southern Tier NY 2018 was not only an amazing experience for Rahmeka, but also a chance for her to share her story and inspire others. From continuing her education at New York University, to establishing It Only Takes One (itonlytakes1one.org) Rahmeka is the definition of a go-getter. Having instilled the importance of hard work and philanthropy throughout her life, this STEM Sista is determined to use her passion to make a difference.
Name: Rahmeka Cox
Alma Mater: East Carolina University, New York University
SiSTEM Career Path: Epidemiology/Non- Profit
Degrees: BS Biology
BA Hispanic Studies
Masters in Public Health, Epidemiology
KH: Who/What made you interested in pursuing public health?
RC: New York University has been my dream school since high school. After receiving several in-state scholarships in North Carolina, I chose to attend East Carolina University. There, I received dual degrees: Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Hispanic Studies. After taking a course about infectious diseases at ECU, and completing a Spanish/Public Health internship with Dr. Essie Torres, I knew that wanted to continue in higher education to broaden my public health perspective. I gained a strong passion for disease control and interventions, and was inspired to learn more about the epidemiology of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).
My mother was diagnosed with CKD in 2004. After she received a kidney from my brother David in 2006, we decided to advocate for "all things kidney." I used her story to start It Only Takes One (itonlytakes1one.org) which involves promoting kidney health and donor education. Competing in the Miss America Organization has allowed room for me to share my story effectively, while partnering with organizations such as the National Kidney Foundation. As a Kidney Advocacy Committee liaison, I have been fortunate to lobby for important acts of legislation (such as the Living Donor Protection Act [HR 1270] and HR 3867, which is an early detection program for CKD) that affect kidney patients and donors on the local, state and national level at Capitol Hill. With my personal platform, I hope to continue making a difference through initiatives of It Only Takes One.
What are your future plans as an Epidemiologist?
RC: Future career plans involve working as a Renal Research Coordinator in Manhattan with NYU Langone, New York VA Harbor Healthcare System, and the Narrows Institute. There, I coordinate research studies, where I work directly with hemodialysis patients, nephrologists, nurses, and renal staff members.
I also desire to turn It Only Takes One into a nonprofit organization, endorsing organizations that support the ideals and get involved initiatives of It Only Takes One, which include dialysis drives, kidney walks, and lobbying for important acts of legislation, such as the Living Donor Protection Act. Within the next 3-5 years, I would love to find opportunities working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institute of Health (NIH), World Health Organization (WHO) and/or the United Nations (U.N.)
KH: Why do you feel It is important to get more women into STEM fields?
RC: As a STEMinist, and the recipient of several STEM scholarships, I know how important it is to increase the number of women who pursue careers in STEM. We can do this by sharing our stories, and empowering future generations to pursue these careers to make significant differences in the current underwhelming statistics. There are a disproportionate amount of women who work in STEM fields, collectively. Women are capable, qualified and innovative: we are more likely to attend college and are vastly becoming our most educated workers. Increasing the number of women will enable us to bridge the gender gap that exists due to the history of women being underrepresented and underpaid these fields.