Meet a Mustang: Rachel Hardeman '98
Each month, the 123 eNewsletter features 10 questions with a member of our alumni community. This month, take a moment to get to know Rachel Hardeman ’98.
Rachel Hardeman ’98, PhD, MPH, is an Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, where she focuses on health equity research.
“The overarching goal of my work is to contribute to a body of knowledge that links structural racism to health in a tangible way, identifies opportunities for intervention, and ultimately dismantles the systems, structures, and institutions that have allowed health inequities to persist,” says Hardeman.
She is also a consultant with Partners in Equity and Inclusion, a nonprofit organization that provides organizations, groups, and individuals with evidence-based options for achieving deep diversity, true equity, and full inclusion.
After Breck, Rachel went on to pursue her Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry and Spanish from Xavier University of Louisiana. From there she attended the University of Minnesota School of Public Health where she received her Masters of Public Health (MPH) in 2007. Finally, she received her Doctorate in Health Services Research Policy and Administration (PhD) from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in 2013.
Today, Rachel lives in Golden Valley with her husband Eduardo Medina, a family medicine physician with Park Nicollet, their three-year-old daughter Leila, and their cockapoo, Hurley.
Rachel and her husband recently co-authored an article in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled "Structural Racism and Supporting Black Lives — The Role of Health Professionals." The article is a call to action for health professionals to play a role in dismantling the systems that create inequity in our health care system.
1. What was the last book you read?
I am either reading something related to my research or I’m reading to my daughter. I recently finished reading Black and Blue: The Origins and Consequences of Medical Racism by John Hoberman. I have spent many recent evenings reading The First Pup: The Real Story of How Bo Got to the White House to my daughter.
2. Why did you choose your profession?
I feel like it chose me. I knew I wanted to be on the forefront of affecting change in public health and health care delivery. As a professor, I get to read and write a lot, analyze data and design research and interventions with the goal of improving health and eliminating disparities. Being in a position where my research and intellectual contributions influence policy is really exciting.
3. What’s one of the best decisions you’ve ever made?
In 2002 I studied abroad in Havana Cuba. Not only did my time there shape the way I think about health care and public health but it’s also how I met my husband who was studying in the same program.
4. Tell us about your favorite Breck memory?
I was involved in tennis, basketball and track at Breck and have fond memories of the camaraderie.
5. Name three people – living or dead – you would have dinner with.
Michelle Obama, Prince, Toni Morrison
6. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and how would you use it?
Power to heal
7. What teacher inspired you most?
Lois Fruen is the reason I earned an undergraduate degree in Chemistry. She recruited me into the science research program my senior year and really helped me to develop my analytic and critical thinking skills. While I am not a chemist, the foundation she laid has certainly been an important part of my career in academia.
8. What words of wisdom would you pass on to your childhood self?
(1) It's OK to ask for help (2) Enjoy sleep and nap as often as possible!
9. Advice for recent Breck grads?
We all have a social responsibility to leave this place a bit better than we found it. Breck sets a strong foundation for this and we all must continue to do our part to create an equitable and just society.
10. Why is it important for you to stay connected to Breck?
I appreciate the ways that Breck has incorporated service leadership and community engagement into the curriculum. As my husband and I explore schools for our daughter, Breck has certainly stood out in that regard. I also recognize that not all children and families have the opportunity and access to resources such as those that Breck offers. By staying connected to Breck I hope to be a part of a movement that affords this opportunity to more children.