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 " Burtel N. Forrest High School Essay Contest"  

Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc
High School Essay Contest

Our recipient of this year’s Burtel Forrest High School Essay is Myles Henneghan.  Myles is the son of Fawnia and Monta Henneghan.  He attends Brien McMahon in Norwalk where he is a Senior.  Myles essay represented our chapter entry to the District for Achievement Week. 


This year (2022) Essay Title: A world crisis has caused a paradigm shift for health disparities and social justice; what are your suggestions for positive change?

Myles Henneghan's Essay

As I began to ponder this broad topic, I started to think about universal access to resources for healthcare in this country, as compared to other countries. I wanted to take a deep dive into what other countries give their citizens freely, and the lack of resources in the US, especially among racial and socioeconomic groups.

I come from a single-parent household, and I see the struggles my mom has to go through to maintain our standard quality of living. She was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. You can imagine the toll that took on both of us emotionally. She had numerous doctor appointments and surgeries. It was at that moment, I started to think more about

healthcare in the US.

I wanted to

understand how all

of this works. I carry

around my insurance

cards with me if ever

needed, but never

thought to question

the power that little

card has. When I

have my allergist

appointments, vision

appointments, and yearly physicals, I present that Anthem card, pay the copay, and services are rendered. What about those Americans who are not as fortunate as I am to have access to insurance? Those that are not able to work and can’t afford proper healthcare? Is their access denied?

There has been some progress made to reduce health disparities. However, there is still a gap that exists for racial and ethnic minorities, rural, and low socioeconomic populations. The U.S. government does not provide health benefits to citizens or visitors. Any time you get medical care, someone has to pay for it. Higher healthcare spending means they have less income to spend on other goods and services that they may need to help support their families.

Learning the Japanese language since fifth grade has been one of my greatest challenges. I’ve learned not only how to speak the language, but what the culture is like and how they live. I have also learned that in Japanese culture, healthcare is different than here in the US. For example, healthcare in Japan is provided free for Japanese citizens and foreigners. Medical treatment in Japan is provided through universal healthcare. This system is available to all citizens, as well as non-Japanese citizens staying in Japan for more than a year. “The statutory health insurance system covers more than 98% of Japan’s population, while a separate system for those in poverty picks up the rest, proving itself as one of the countries with the best healthcare in the world. Japan’s health insurance covers the vast majority of treatments, including mental health care, hospice care, and most dental care.”

How does this tie into social justice? The definition of social justice revolves around the concept of equality and human rights. Factors such as education, employment, socioeconomic status, and environment can affect an individual’s access to healthcare. Social issues in healthcare influence every aspect of our well-being, from our physical and mental health to the treatment we receive from doctors. Social justice is the view that everyone deserves equal rights and opportunities, this also includes the right to good health. Yet today, there are inequities in health that are avoidable, unnecessary, and unjust. Racism and other inequities diminish our potential to become one of the healthiest nations. This limits the opportunities that certain individuals and communities may have. 

In conclusion, one suggestion for positive change that I have is to perform acts of kindness. Studies show that simple acts of kindness can make the person doing them happier and can even have positive health benefits. Actions like voicing my opinions and raising awareness through education can be a great way to make an impact. Another suggestion would be for healthcare organizations to help reduce ethnic health disparities by offering cultural training to healthcare providers. It could start a ripple effect that can spread far beyond the person who started it. It doesn’t take much effort or planning to create such a positive impact. My final suggestion would be for healthcare officials to embrace the complexities of health disparities. Once individuals own their truth and face the facts, then maybe we can start to see a shift in the world when it comes to healthcare and the issues revolving around it. People must begin to acknowledge that we are all different, and these differences are what makes us all unique, whether we are Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, or classify as “Other”, We Are Still The Human Race!


The Alpha Nu Chapter has renamed our Essay Contest the  " Burtel N. Forrest High School Essay Contest"  

The late Brother Burtel N. Forrest was a Life Member of our Fraternity who believed deeply in education and in our doing all that we can to be of assistance to and encourage our young people in the pursuit of education.  

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