Pitzer College Dean Kathleen Yep Speaks at CDC Public Health Ethics Forum

Professor of Asian American Studies Kathleen (Kathy) Yep

Claremont, Calif. (May 22, 2017)—Pitzer College’s Associate Dean of Faculty and Professor of Asian American Studies Kathleen Yep spoke at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2017 Public Health Ethics Forum on May 19 in Atlanta, GA. The forum, “Optimal Health for Her Whole Life,” brought together national leaders in women’s health and public health ethics to discuss the best ways to improve the health of women and girls in the US.

Yep was a panelist in a discussion titled “Women’s Health at the Intersection of Context, Inclusion and Public Health Practice,” where she discussed Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander immigrant women’s health, focusing on the immigrant elder population in the US.

“Cisgendered Asian women over the age of 65 have the highest suicide rate of women of all races over the age of 65,” Yep said before the panel. “The pernicious and socially constructed model minority myth masks the reality of depression and mental illness in Asian immigrant elder and Pacific Islander immigrant elder populations.”

Before the event, Yep said she hoped to tie this issue into a discussion that may help researchers, healthcare providers and policy makers recognize “the false universalization of their own situated knowledges and what are possible best practices for centering situated knowledges of marginalized, under-resourced communities to address health inequalities.”

Yep is an expert in community wellness, a concept that she says “shifts the conversation from exclusively looking at biomedical causes of disease to integrate the more expansive social determinants of health.” She is currently researching community wellness in Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Southern California and Hawai’i. Her courses at Pitzer include Health Inequities and Community Health. In 2007, she was awarded a two-year faculty fellowship by the Carnegie Foundation and California Campus Compact to teach classes on community health and nonviolent social change.

In addition to critical public health, Yep’s expertise includes approaches to social change. In 2015, the City of Monterey Park honored her with the Mayor’s Award for her collaboration with Literacy for All of Monterey Park, a partnership between her Asian American Studies classes and the adult literacy program at the city’s public library. Participating in the CDC panel was an opportunity for Yep to highlight this partnership and “the innovative intergenerational learning space Pitzer has created with immigrant and refugee women and men.”

“With recent changes in the MCAT to include social and behavioral science, many pre-med students from the Claremont Colleges have benefited from collaborating with immigrant and refugee elders to learn how citizenship status, language discrimination and historical trauma impact health outcomes and health access,” Yep said.

Yep is the author of Outside the Paint: When Basketball Ruled at the Chinese Playground and co-author of Dragon’s Child: The Story of Angel Island.  Her writings have appeared in numerous peer-reviewed journals, including Ethnic and Racial Studies, Metropolitan Universities and Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies. 

The Public Health Ethics Forum is hosted each year by the National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care at Tuskegee University and the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity at the CDC.

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility and community involvement. For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu.

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