Roman Johnson, a Ph.D. student studying medical sociology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has been awarded a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship to study Arabic this summer in Morocco. FLAS fellowships are nationally competitive awards funded through the U.S. Department of Education for undergraduate and graduate students to study critical and less commonly taught foreign languages. The purpose of the FLAS program is to promote the training of students who intend to make their careers in college or university teaching, government service, or other employment where knowledge of foreign languages and cultures is essential.
FLAS fellowships are awarded competi tively on merit basis through an annual fellowship competition. Johnson is finishing up his first year in UAB’s medical sociology Ph.D. program. His research focuses on health disparities of people in the Middle East and North Africa, also referred to as the MENA region.
“My research focuses on what health challenges people in the MENA region, primarily Morocco, encounter when they immigrate to European countries,” Johnson said. “Studying Arabic will help me better review the literature that currently exists on this subject. It will also help me to better communicate with those who have emigrated from Morocco to the West about their experiences when seeking health care services.”
Johnson, a native of Memphis, Tenn., received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Morehouse College in 2014. He received a master’s degree in African American Studies from Georgia State University in 2016. A teaching assistantship and the opportunity to study alongside Distinguished Professor and Department of Sociology Chair William Cockerham, Ph.D., is what led Johnson to UAB.
“Dr. Cockerham is one of the most respected scholars of global health and medical sociology,” Johnson said. “The opportunity to learn from him is why I chose UAB. I am confident that UAB is providing me with the right tools and knowledge to be a global health scholar.”
Johnson hopes to use his dissertation as the beginning of a book, and aspires to one day work for the World Health Organization.
Johnson is a member of the Black Graduate Student Association, in which he will serve as the 2017-2018 mentoring chair. He also serves as the 2016-2017 diversity chair of GRADient, an organization dedicated to the pursuit of academic excellence and social and political awareness with respect to LGBTQ graduate, professional and postdoctoral scholars.