Two Public Health doctoral students awarded inaugural Mentoring for Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence program grants 


As part of a Tier 1 research university, College of Public Health researchers seek to solve society’s most difficult problems, including those created by systemic discrimination. Two Public Health doctoral students have recently been recognized for their anti-racism work. 

The students, Samantha Kanselaar and Julia Mandeville, are among the first group of recipients for the Mentoring for Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence (MARIE) program, a new initiative sponsored by George Mason University’s Office of the Provost. The program offers mentoring support and funding for graduate students’ project ideas that advance the university’s values of access, diversity, equity, and inclusion.  

Samantha Kanselaar
Samantha Kanselaar

Kanselaar’s project, “Structural Racism and Intimate Partner Violence in Immigrant Communities of Color: A Conceptual Model,” will create a model that explains ways in which structural racism manifests to drive intimate partner violence (IPV) in immigrant communities of color. Immigrant women of color experience high levels of IPV and its consequences, and current explanations typically use gender or culture lenses. Less attention has been given to the impact structural racism has on driving IPV. Structural racism, by one definition, includes differential access by race to the goods, services, and opportunities of society. 

Kanselaar hopes that research such as hers will serve as a bridge between the anti-racism and anti-violence fields. Her project mentors include her PhD mentor Associate Professor of Public Health Jhumka Gupta and Assistant Professor of Global and Community Health Rochelle Davidson Mhonde and Sameera Nayak, assistant professor of public health at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.  

Kanselaar says this was the first time she applied for such an award and was pleasantly surprised to receive the recognition. “It feels great to know that Mason is invested in helping their students achieve their goals through funding and mentorship in anti-racist and inclusive approaches,” she said.  

Kanselaar, who is early in her research career, expects the project to serve as a stepping stone for continued research on the intersection of anti-racism and anti-violence in immigrant populations of color, eventually leading to her dissertation.   

Julia Mandeville
Julia Mandeville

Mandeville’s winning proposal is titled “‘Virtually the Same…but Also Kind of Different’: An Exploration of How Racism and Generational Status Influence the Endometriosis Experiences of First Generation, Second Generation, and Third Generation Black Women Living in America.”  

Her research project, ENDO-Served, characterizes the experiences of Black women and other women of color who have been diagnosed with or have symptoms of endometriosis. Endometriosis is a painful condition caused by the presence of endometrial cells outside of the uterus and affects up to 10 percent of women globally. Because the disease is not well studied in this population, Black patients often experience up to a three-year delay in diagnosis and worse surgical outcomes. ENDO-Served began this past year under the supervision of Mandeville’s PhD mentors, Associate Professors of Public Health Jhumka Gupta and Anna Pollack, and in partnership with ENDO Black Inc., an organization advocating for women of color affected by endometriosis. She presented her preliminary quantitative results at the American Public Health Association’s meeting in November 2022. 

The MARIE grant will support the qualitative arm of Mandeville’s work, which will examine how racism and generational status affect outcomes in Black women with endometriosis in the United States.  

“Having an award in place to support students who pursue work that is anti-racist and inclusive is heartening,” she said. “The work started with my mentors and our community partner is an opportunity to better serve Black women and other women of color with endometriosis.”