How One International Relations Alumna is Changing the World


by Dr. Kanji Watanabe

Su Bin “Alison” Park, who graduated from Cottey in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Business, is on track to be the first Cottey baccalaureate program graduate to earn her Ph.D. She is a native of South Korea.
 
Su Bin "Alison" Park at her 2013 Commencement
“Learning international relations theories and examples at Cottey enabled me to gain a holistic understanding of global affairs from political, economic, social and cultural aspects,” said Alison. “Moreover, I developed skills to analyze complex international issues, and I became passionate about issues of poverty and inequality.”

Given her interests in alleviating social problems, Alison moved to Kansas City after she graduated from Cottey and participated in several programs at Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, the Kansas City Health Department, and Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences (KCU), which all serve disadvantaged communities and work to reduce health inequity.

Alison worked for the Kansas City Health Department as a researcher with the Community Health Improvement Plan, a collaborative effort that brought together community leaders, medical experts and citizens in order to reduce health inequity between wealthy and poor neighborhoods. Alison processed assessments to determine the socioeconomic factors of urban-core communities. She examined the disparities of residents’ healthcare and organized civic engagement activities to address the communities’ perceptions on quality of life. She also promoted collaboration of stakeholders from different sectors in policy-making and implementation.

Likewise, at KCU, she assisted medical staff and a department director with logistics and preparations of Score 1 for Health. The program provides free health screenings in Kansas City’s urban-core neighborhoods for children at risk of diabetes.  She also evaluated the effectiveness of Score 1 by analyzing trends in health outcomes of the children from different participating schools.

“My professional experiences at a practitioner level inspired me to engage in academic inquiry of organization-level program development and evaluation issues,” said Alison. “I believe in the importance of evidence-based practice and multi-sectoral partnerships in order to maximize resources and broaden the impact and effects on communities at a greater scale.”

A year after graduating from Cottey, Alison began studying for a master’s in healthcare administration at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). In 2017, she began an interdisciplinary Ph.D. program at UMKC in public affairs and administration and bioinformatics emphasizing dissemination and implementation science. Her research interests are nonprofit leadership, public health policy analysis and community participation.

Alison’s work focuses on questions such as: “How can nonprofits and public organizations with limited resources effectively address socioeconomic factors causing inequalities in health and promote health equity through significant partnerships?” In addition to her research, Alison is a graduate assistant—teaching research methods and conducting research. One of her research projects includes a corporate social responsibility case study and efficiency assessments on low-income dental services in the Kansas City metro area.

“Since I graduated from Cottey, I have pursued higher education experiences to make a difference in my career,” said Alison. “With an aspiration of positively influencing society, my goal is to become a change agent to bridge the gap between scholarly work and policy or practice. I want to be an impactful researcher dedicated to health equity of low socio-economic communities.”

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