Making a Mark: Kaheela Reid
Reported by Jen Wright
She was born in Hawaii, raised in Jamaica and likes popcorn. At least, that’s how Kaheela Reid, senior at George Fox University (GFU), describes herself.
Reid is graduating this spring with a bachelor’s degree in Biology, and she wants to work in public health. Reid specifically wants to help low-income areas and women of color get the medical help they need and so sorely lack.
“When I was 14, I had an assignment, where my guidance counselor told us we had to do some volunteer work,” Reid said. “I ended up going to this children’s hospital in Jamaica and volunteering and realizing that I really love being in the medical setting and being with people. At the time, I [was] like, ‘oh, I want to be a doctor’ and I think that’s what I really wanted to do, and so I decided the best way to do that was to study biology.”
Junior year, she realized she didn’t want to be a physician, and that she wanted to work in public health.
Reid is especially hoping to help provide women of color with good health care and pregnancy support, because their survival rates are much lower than other groups of women.
“Something I’m really hoping to work on in the future is making sure that people in marginalized groups or lower-income communities are provided with proper health care,” Reid said. “And also that women in those communities can also be provided with good health care.”
Her passion for helping those communities has affected her involvement at GFU, where she has served as the treasurer for the Black Student Union, a cultural ambassador, the vice president of Intercultural Life and an intern for the James Project.
“I’ve always done something in Intercultural Life,” Reid said. “I feel like I’m always in this office, or I have some sort of attachment to this office, no matter where I am or what I’m doing.”
One of the biggest issues Reid cares about is racial reconciliation.
“I think something that we really stress at Fox is grace, which is very important,” Reid said. “I also learned about racial reconciliation. It’s a church term. A lot of times, racial reconciliation doesn’t happen out of a [Christian] context.”
Reid mentioned that racial reconciliation has to happen in a church setting, because outside the church, it doesn’t happen with the grace and love it needs to include.
Aside from racial reconciliation, Reid has seen a need on campus for more faculty of color, specifically to help students gain perspective and guidance from people who know where they are coming from.
“It’s a really important thing to have on this campus,” Reid said. “What you find is that you have a lot of students of color that come to Fox and they are looking for mentors, or people that look like them, and they don’t ever get to see that.”
Some of the faculty do a good job of supporting those students and walking with them, but the relational perspective isn’t always there, Reid said.
“Sometimes they need someone that has walked in their shoes,” Reid said.
Reid hopes to be that person in the public health community, and she hopes that the community will continue to grow at GFU after she leaves.