Frank Gyan ‘09 credits EOP with opening doors to a career in public health
By Laura Reindl
Frank Gyan ’09 was “a timid kid from Brooklyn” when he arrived at Binghamton University. Now a self-described “entrepreneurial epidemiologist,” working for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and running a business with his wife that provides janitorial services to healthcare facilities throughout the Northeast Corridor, he has come a long way. And it all started with one conversation during the Binghamton Enrichment Program the summer before his first year at Binghamton.
“I will never forget this moment,” Gyan said. “We’re going from one class to the next, and [then-EOP Director James Pogue] pulled me to the side, looked me dead in my eyes, and said, ‘Frank, you’re going to be a great guy on this campus one day. Just keep doing what you’re doing.’ And it penetrated my very soul. Everything that has happened since then came from that conversation with Dr. Pogue. It was an affirmation, and I just ran with it.”
From that point on, Gyan made it a point to make his time at Binghamton count. He joined MALIK Fraternity Inc. and delivered educational programming that explored the impact of HIV and AIDS in communities of color. He also took a geography class that introduced him to the concept of public health mapping, which he found fascinating and wanted to further explore.
“Early in my life I was diagnosed with epilepsy,” he said, “and then my dad passed away from diabetes. So I’ve been asking that question — ‘Why us, why me?’ — for a while. Not in a pitiful way, but trying to understand what is going on from a scientific standpoint.”
He delved into these questions even further through the McNair Scholars Program and the Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP), formerly known as CSTEP, both of which he learned about through EOP. Working with Sharon Bryant, co-director of STEP and a faculty member in the Decker School of Nursing, and Leo Wilton, professor of human development, he wrote a research paper looking at the prevalence of HIV among religious Black men.
Bryant and Wilton both had a profound impact on Gyan, but they weren’t the only mentors he found at Binghamton. EOP, he discovered, was an all-encompassing support system. Yulanda Whyte Johnson was his assigned counselor, but he took the opportunity to speak with anyone in the program he could.
“EOP provided the ability to walk into a counselor’s office and talk to them — even bring them into your personal life — and for them to give you their fatherly or motherly counsel,” he said. “For them to scold you when they had to, let you know when you’re not making wise choices.”
Gyan’s wife, Kayoll Galbraith Gyan ’11, also found EOP to be a valuable tool. While she did not qualify for admission through EOP, she quickly found her way into the EOP family and became an adopted member. She and Frank, who met and started dating in high school, found that they had similar academic interests in college. Kayoll was also introduced to the McNair Scholars Program and CSTEP through relationships she cultivated during her time as an EOP tutor. She was a student in the Decker School of Nursing and spent three summers studying human papillomavirus (HPV) among Caribbean Americans with Bryant and Wilton. She went on to study HPV vaccine promotion among African American women while earning her PhD at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and completing a postdoctoral research fellowship at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Currently, she is a tenure-track faculty member at Northeastern University, where she shares this passion with a new generation of students.
This is another area in which the couple finds its passions aligning. Gyan says he looks to the motto of his junior high school as one guiding principle in his life: “You must lift as you climb and leave no one behind.”
“For almost 20 years, it has stuck with me,” he said. “I really do believe in making sure that the generation behind me does better than me, just like I’m supposed to do better than the generation before me.”
This mindset is reflected in his eagerness over the years to share opportunities with and mentor current Binghamton EOP students, as well as in his career. After graduating from Binghamton, Gyan received a master’s degree in public health from New York Medical College before eventually joining the Massachusetts Department of Public Health as a school-based health center epidemiologist.
He and his colleagues assess risk and resiliency among students, with the goal of limiting chronic truancy. They work to find out more about the students who visit the 33 school-based health centers, which operate as satellite clinics located mostly in high schools around the state. What are the unseen factors that may be impacting students’ health and well-being, and therefore their academic performance — mental health issues, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc.?
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought new questions and priorities. How are families’ economic situations impacting students? What effect does that have on equity in the academic arena? Remote learning doesn’t work for students who don’t have access to computers at home.
In addition to providing medical care, providers in the school-based health centers teach students that they have what it takes to reach their full potential. They call this resiliency. Gyan has a personal appreciation for this part of the work.
“We measure risks and resiliencies,” he said. “If someone was to measure my risks and resiliencies as a student, I would say that EOP was a resiliency — it allowed me to stay in school.”
He encourages others to reflect on and appreciate their past experiences, as well.
“Let us not get so consumed with life that we forget the people and the places that made us who we are. Binghamton has made a lot of us who we are. I never talk about my graduate school experience, but I will never stop talking about my Binghamton experience, because it really shaped me. It took a timid kid from Brooklyn and introduced me to the world, and I will never forget that.”
September 21, 2020
By My-Ly Nguyen Sperry '00, MBA '02
FIVE STUDENTS RECEIVE GEORGE FLOYD SCHOLARSHIP FOR SOCIAL CHANGE
On Tuesday, Sept. 15, five Binghamton University students learned they are receiving crucial support and recognition of their efforts to advance a racially just and equitable society.
During George Floyd’s memorial service June 4, the president at North Central University in Minneapolis announced a scholarship in Floyd’s name and called on universities across the nation to do the same.
Binghamton University rose to the challenge. The Binghamton University Foundation board of directors, in partnership with University President Harvey Stenger, designated $1.5 million to establish the endowed George Floyd Scholarship for Social Change to support historically economically disadvantaged, underrepresented minorities.
Recipients receive at least $5,000 per year, for up to three years, in recognition of their demonstrated activity and/or achievements related to social change, restorative justice or racial equality.
“It is my hope that this scholarship will help to provide our students the additional resources they need to assist with their academic success; and to recognize their efforts to affect real change toward social justice now and in the time to come,” Stenger said. “These talented students will be the next generation of leaders and advocates, continuing Binghamton’s legacy of civic engagement and commitment to the community.”
“We recognize there is more work to be done on the journey to equity in our country,” said Sheldon I. Goldfarb ‘73, chair of the Foundation board. “That’s why it is important that we invest in the future of diverse leaders. With this scholarship, we are supporting educational opportunities for driven and talented students who are making positive changes in our world. On behalf of the Foundation, my congratulations to this year’s recipients.”
The students selected for academic year 2020-21 are:
Claudian Francis ‘22, who designed her own major in social sciences as part of the
Individualized Major Program. She developed The State of Black College America and
Coronavirus, sponsored by the Multicultural Resource Center and the Division of Diversity,
Equity and Inclusion at Binghamton, for national Black leaders to come together and
discuss ways the coronavirus is affecting minority communities and provide equitable
and feasible solutions for Black college students on how to move forward during these
Micah Jumpp ‘21, MA ‘22, who is in the accelerated/4+1 degree program in geography. She has challenged her hometown school district to review its curriculum and books, teach complete and accurate histories of Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), and create equity spaces for BIPOC and LGBTQ+.
Celine Lodge ‘21, a double major in nursing and psychology, who is a McNair Scholar conducting research to investigate the relationship between perceived discrimination in healthcare and practicing preventive health behaviors among African Americans with citizenship status differences. As a volunteer at a hospital where the majority of patients are minorities, she designed and administered a patient satisfaction survey relating to patients’ comfort level and quality of care. She used the data to facilitate improvement plans on the medical/surgical floor where she was stationed and helped ensure patients were being heard and receiving quality care no matter their racial background.
Anita Oduro ‘22, who is majoring in psychology and has participated in several student organizations that provide local community service, including the step team X-Fact’r, which has performed regularly at a local middle school. She has also been a host/mentor for the Juvenile Urban Multicultural Program (JUMP), which guides and fosters underprivileged eighth-grade students of African American and Latinx descent to strive for higher education.
Jelani Pusey ‘22, a major in economics, who is treasurer of the Caribbean Student Association at Binghamton, which is raising money for the Caribbean Equality Project, a nonprofit agency serving the Caribbean American LGBTQ+ community in New York City. He also volunteers virtually at a Bronx charter school for the arts, mentoring and educating low-income Black students in mathematics, and encouraging them to embrace their culture and learn about their history.
“This was a wonderful opportunity to learn the ways our students are engaging to change the world through social activism and community service,” said Karen A. Jones, University vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion. “Selecting five students was challenging, as it would be great to award all 84 applicants; however, there is comfort knowing the recipients are a reflection of all who applied.”
July 13, 2020
A message from the Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Dear Campus Community,
Being dedicated to enriching the lives of people through Binghamton University’s core values of unity, identity and excellence, we recognize the strength and richness of the diversity among our campus community. The commitment to creating an inclusive campus where everyone feels a sense of belonging and each person’s contributions is valued, is one that is continuous and must be reaffirmed daily.
As our world has become more diverse and complex so, too, have our campuses and the needs and expectations of our students, faculty and staff. As a premier public institution, we acknowledge diversity is more than checking a box. It is the very essence of who we are. Regardless of identity or intersectionality of identities, people deserve to be treated with attention, respect, integrity, and compassion. It is the collection of our diversity that gives us both the brilliance and strength of a diamond; we are not only at our best when we are diverse, we are more creative, and more innovative. Our demonstrated commitment to diversity is what makes us uniquely us ─ a place where diversity, inclusion, equity, a shared sense of belonging and a collective understanding of the value of each of us must become intrinsic to who we are and what we do.
It is well understood that the road to creating a truly inclusive and welcoming community is long and arduous, but together we can reach this goal with determination, growth and by celebrating each milestone achieved. The time for us to lead is now; following is not an option.
I look forward to forging new partnerships as we work together to create a community where we each take responsibility to contribute to one another’s success.
Karen A. Jones, PhD
Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
May 20, 2020
Special Message from DEI staff regarding the passing of Dominic Davy
The cultural community mourns the tremendous loss of Dominic Davy, a doctoral student in the College of Community and Public Affairs (CCPA) and adjunct lecturer at Binghamton University.
Dom was an amazing young man with a vibrant energy that was palpable. He was an alum of our Educational Opportunity Program and advisor to several of our cultural student organizations on campus. He impacted so many and his spirit will live on in all of us. Our sincere condolences go out to Dom’s children, his family and the scores of colleagues, friends, alumni and community partners that have come to love and admire him.
An open space for Binghamton students, faculty and staff to process his loss was held Thursday, May 21, via Zoom at bit.ly/rememberingdom. Additionally, a celebration of his life will be planned for a later date.
For those in need of counseling services, the University Counseling Center (UCC), along with the Dean of Students Office and CARE Team, can offer support.
To reach someone after hours or for emergencies, students should call 911 or the UCC
after-hours counselor by calling 607-777-2772 and selecting #2.
During business hours, students who would like to speak to someone should reach out to the UCC by calling 607-777-2772 or the Dean of Students Office and CARE Team by calling 607-777-2804.
Faculty and staff seeking assistance should contact the Employee Assistance Program at 607-777-6655 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. An off-campus coordinator can be reached after hours by calling the 24-hour EAP call line at 1-800-822-0244.
The Binghamton University Interfaith Council is also available to students, faculty and staff via email at email@example.com.
For more information, see the Binghamton University Pipe Dream article reflecting on Dom’s passing.