Elizabeth Mercer, UTHealth Medical School

I plan to work with Fellow Diana Whitney at The Beacon, a Houston-area day center affiliated with HOMES Clinic, a student-run clinic for the homeless. They will utilize a community-based participatory approach to identify and address health & hygiene needs specific to homeless women. They plan to collaborate with community members at the Beacon to develop an focused intervention that targets women’s voiced concerns, including but not limited to issues surrounding family planning, reproductive health, domestic violence, and menstrual hygiene.

I am currently a first year Medical Student at UT-Houston. I did my undergrad at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, but I am from Sugar Land, TX. My senior year of college, I went on a service trip to Camden, NJ where I helped make and distribute meals and volunteered at the local school and shelters. The part of the trip that will stay with me forever is how much we were encouraged to get to know the people we were serving. I am really looking forward to getting to know the female homeless population in Houston. Diana and I are specifically addressing problems and concerns of the female homeless population because they are a minority group amongst the homeless. Building off previous fellows’ project, we will be holding focus groups to determine the biggest struggles faced by homeless women today and build our intervention around this information. We anticipate that feminine hygiene will be one of these issues and would like to improve upon what is included in hygiene kits. However, the nature of our project is such that they tell us what they need and not the other way around. Therefore, what we anticipate and what actually happens could be very different. Some random facts about me: My favorite food is cheese. I spent two years after college working at Starbucks before I went to Medical School making me a coffee addict for life. I love anything that has to do with Wisconsin, which is probably why I like cheese so much. I’m really excited about meeting everyone!