LEAHP Welcomed Third Cohort

LEAHP Welcomed Third Cohort

Duke University School of Nursing (DUSON) Health Equity Academy (HEA II) and the MSN program recently partnered with North Carolina Central University (NCCU) to present a weeklong summer immersion welcoming the third Leading to Equitable Access to Health Professions (LEAHP) cohort of scholars

Ejim, Campbell, Okafor

During this experience, the three scholars: Evelyn Campbell, Naomi Ejim, and Chika Okafor worked with DUSON faculty, advisors, staff, and students to develop an understanding of advanced practice nursing and support for successful admission to a graduate nursing program. LEAHP assisted students in designing a professional development plan that will assist them in achieving successful admission into an Advanced Practice nursing program.

Campbell is a native of Liberia, West Africa and raised in Durham, N.C. She is a rising senior in NCCU’s accelerated BSN program. Her goal in nursing as well as participation in the LEAHP program is to be a staunch advocate for women’s health. Campbell chose to participate in LEAHP to gain mentorship on navigating the graduate school admissions process, increase her confidence, and learn how to be a mentor for others. She aspires to be a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner where she can increase access to care for marginalized communities.


Ejim is a first-generation Nigerian American and native of Charlotte, N.C. She is a rising senior at NCCU. Ejim is interested in addressing the disparities in maternal mortality rates for Black women so they can have safe and healthy birth experiences. She chose to participate in LEAHP to gain mentorship and exposure to the graduate nursing application process. Ejim used this program to gain confidence, build capacity for personal and professional development skills and engaging with healthcare providers from minoritized backgrounds.

Okafor is a native of Greensboro, N.C., and is proudly of Nigerian descent. She is currently enrolled in NCCU’s accelerated BSN program. Okafor participated in LEAHP to gain professional development strategies to increase her self-confidence, knowledge of advanced practice nursing, and gain insight from and build community with nurses and advanced nurses of color. Okafor began the program interested in providing care for women. During LEAHP, she was exposed to pediatric and neonatal simulations that expanded her knowledge of other specialties.


DUSON Associate Professor Ragan Johnson, DNP, FNP-BC, CNE, LEAHP project director and HEEAT (addressing Health disparities through Engagement, Equity, Advocacy, and Trust) Research Lab co-investigator, said with the cohort the team is looking to continue to strengthen the collaboration between NCCU and DUSON. 

“We want to create additional spaces to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) faculty as well as students,” Johnson said. “The third cohort of students were joined by select students from the first and second cohort which allowed perspective of life as an RN and the preparation it takes to ready themselves for graduate school. This was the first time we were able to offer peer mentorship from recent NCCU graduates.”

ragan johnson

LEAHP is a direct reflection of DUSON's mission. Increasing diversity in nursing and advanced practice nursing is a transformative step in reaching health equity. Johnson said LEAHP aims to not only prepare Black and other students of color for the role of nursing and advanced nursing, but also to increase their confidence and capacity to be leaders and change agents in the health equity space wherever they land. “Additionally, we aim to increase justice in nursing education by reducing barriers Black and other   students of color face in attaining nursing degrees,” Johnson said.

Johnson and her team are planning to continue working with the scholars throughout the academic year in a longstanding mentorship role. 

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