My name is Adriana Cook. I’m a member of the Iota Omega Chapter of Alpha Phi Fraternity and a senior at the University of Mississippi. I will graduate in May with a Bachelor in Business Administration in Human Resource Management and minors in Spanish and entrepreneurship.
In 2017, the Texas Heart Institute was awarded the Heart to Heart Grant. The Texas Heart Institute is located inside of the Texas Medical Center, which is known for housing some of the countries’ most renowned doctors, like Dr. Doris Taylor. She received Alpha Phi’s 2017 Heart to Heart Grant for her work in regenerative heart medicine. The grant also helped establish a summer internship program offered to collegiate or alumnae Alpha Phis interested in pursuing a career in biomedical sciences or medicine. As a freshman, I decided to apply.
Although I was a business major, I hoped to go onto a graduate program in public health administration or hospital administration. However, considering my young age and area of study, I didn’t think I had a chance. You can imagine my shock and excitement when I was offered one of the Alpha Phi summer internships.
The summer after my freshman year I had the opportunity to intern at the Texas Heart Institute. Twice a week, I would take the commuter bus from The Woodlands to downtown Houston, where THI is located. It was an incredible experience working closely with Dr. Taylor and the other Alpha Phi intern, Lauren Greger (Phi-Oklahoma). I gained valuable lab experience, I learned to culture cells, and I did an independent project on bone marrow samples over time. Towards the end of my internship, I was given the opportunity to present my independent project in front of the rest of the interns and Dr. Taylor.
Through this internship, I gained experience in my intended field with someone who leads and excels in the medical field. I was able to meet Foundation board members, local alumni, and attend the check presentation at the end of the summer. I was able to advocate for Greek Life and the Iota Omega Chapter experience in a space you’re less likely to find it. Lastly, and most importantly, I was able to see the incredible work that Dr. Taylor does in the field of heart disease and for women.
Heart disease is not only the number one killer of men, but also of women in America. However, heart disease in women can often go un-diagnosed because of the genetic differences and our current indicators or markers for heart disease. Her work has the potential to increase the quality of treatments for women living with heart disease.
Dr. Taylor showed me what it takes to be a woman leader in a field that has been mostly dominated by men. She and I have similar backgrounds—we were both born and raised in Mississippi, attended college in Mississippi (she attended Mississippi University for Women), and she is passionate about advancing lives (more specifically, women’s lives) through her work. Dr. Taylor showed me that it takes thinking outside of the box and hard work to succeed.
The Foundation and its programs have impacted me beyond words. My internship at THI has given me so much experience in the medical field, and it has taught me more about a philanthropy and cause so close to my heart. Without the Heart to Heart Grant, I may never had gotten this internship that helped me grow professionally, personally, and as a member of Alpha Phi.
Since my time at THI, I was able to work in the human resources department of another medical institution in the Texas Medical Center. Without the opportunities that Alpha Phi has given me, I would not be the person I am today.
Women’s Heart Health Program
Through the generosity of donors, Alpha Phi Foundation granted over $393,000 to heart health-focused projects and organizations during the 2018-2019 academic year. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in North America, and for 26 years Alpha Phi Foundation has invested in female-focused cardiovascular research and educational initiatives through its annual Heart to Heart Grant. Learn more about the Women’s Heart Health Program.