P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans

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Osaremen Fortune Okolo, 2022

Pronunciation: Oh-Sah-Reh-Meh Oh-Koh-Loh

PhD, Harvard University

Osaremen Fortune Okolo is the child of immigrants from Nigeria

Fellowship awarded to support work towards a PhD in History of Science at Harvard University

Osaremen Okolo was born in Massachusetts to a mother and father who journeyed across an ocean to conceive. Her parents immigrated from Nigeria after struggling with a decade of unexplained infertility. She was raised in a community of fellow immigrants from Edo State, but with a true tribe of three at home. Osaremen graduated with high honors from Harvard College in 2017, concentrating in history of science & African and African American studies with a secondary in global health and health policy. Though Osaremen intended to honor the miracle of her birth by pursuing medicine, her academic interests pulled her from anatomical systems towards exploring the health of Black Americans outside of their cells and organs.

During her final year at Harvard College, Osaremen pursued a 30,000-word independent research project titled, “Blackened Fertility: The Lasting Discourse of African American Female Reproduction After the Civil Rights Movement.” In the award-winning thesis, advised by Professor Evelynn Hammonds, Osaremen argued that historical narratives which imagined Black women to be hyper-sexual and hyper-fertile were perpetuated to serve various political agendas and maintain pervasive tentacles on Black reproductive health today. 

Osaremen currently serves as policy advisor for public health and equity in the White House Office of the COVID-19 Response. Prior to the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris, Osaremen spent the summer and fall of 2020 translating campaign promises into policy implementation plans on the Biden-Harris Transition. She was recruited to join the Transition after several years specializing in health policy on Capitol Hill—first as Ranking Member Patty Murray’s legislative aide for health policy on the US Senate HELP Committee and later as senior health policy advisor for Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.

As a doctoral candidate, Osaremen will return to Harvard to study medicine, public health, and their interactions in historical, social, and cultural contexts while looking at contemporary health policy and political science—developing a body of scholarship to transform our understanding of racial health inequities, uncover a clearer path to resolving them, and set the course towards equity for our years ahead. She has been selected as a Presidential Scholar in the Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and will study in the Department of the History of Science.

Education
  • PhD History of Science | Harvard University 2027
  • AB History and Science & African and African American Studies | Harvard University 2017
Awards
  • Presidential Scholar, Harvard University
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