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Friends and Neighbors: NFA grad’s work highlighted in Fairfield University show

Tiara Wheeler is a 22-year-old Norwich resident in her senior year at Fairfield University, where she is majoring in Public Health. At the school’s 2021 Innovative Research Symposium, she was one of four seniors selected to be highlighted in a live show, which was held on April 22.

Wheeler worked withd Dr. Kim Doughty on a project titled “Race, Ethnicity, and Trust in the U.S. Healthcare System.” The study, expected to be published in a scientific journal by the end of the year, will feature Wheeler and Doughty as co-authors.

The two research questions focused on exploring attitudes towards and experiences with the health care system and whether those attitudes and experiences affect a person’s understanding and awareness of the historical, medical mistreatment of minority groups.

More than 200 individuals took the survey, which is still open until June. Surveys were distributed by posting the link on all of Wheeler’s social media platforms, through emails, and by asking people to share and repost once they finished. Research was supported by a $500 research grant from the Vincent Rosicach Collaborative Research and through Fairfield University.

Interim results indicated that people who identified as non-white report higher levels of distrust than people who identify as non-Hispanic white, and non-white respondents perceive the healthcare system to be less fair,. Also, both non-white and non-Hispanic white respondents have low levels of awareness of the instances where medical mistreatment or unethical experiments occurred in the United States.

“This research emphasizes the racial disparities that exist within the American healthcare system, thus validating the feelings that people of color may experience when receiving medical care. I am grateful to the Symposium for creating a platform to showcase such important findings,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler most recently was completing an internship with the emme Coalition, a program through Optimus Healthcare in Bridgeport that empowers girls and women ages 12-49 in the area of health care.

Wheeler, a 2017 graduate of Norwich Free Academy, will be part of virtual graduation ceremonies at Fairfield University on May 23, but won’t officially graduate until August with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health. She is the daughter of Farrah (Delgado) and Tyson Wheeler and sister of Tyson and Tevin.

Roberta J. Vincent of New London is Tiara Wheeler’s aunt. Friends & Neighbors is a regular feature. To contribute, email stories and high-resoultion photographs to


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