Student Profile: Katy Granath

Whether focusing on Somali women's health or pornography, Katy Granath took on challenging research assignments. Her efforts were rewarded when she flew to Kentucky to present her findings at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research.

Katy Granath came to Seattle University for its small classes and social justice mission. After spending time in Niger at a rural hospital, she decided to get a BA in Liberal Studies in addition to a BA in Biology.

“Working in Niger, I realized that health facilities were just one piece of a larger puzzle to improve health,” she said recently. “People do need better buildings, but they also need a way to get to the hospital.”

Granath sought the interdisciplinary focus of Liberal Studies to gain a better understanding of the “big picture.” Last year, Granath looked at the meaning of cultural competency as it relates to health care and access to care for women in Seattle’ Somali community.

“Seattle is in the forefront of improving Somali health,” she said. “Harboview’s Ethnomed program and Seattle Children’s health models directly address health care of immigrants, especially those from areas of intense conflict. The doctors and staff there provided me with invaluable information and resources.”

In her conference presentation “Beyond Culturally Competent,” Granath examined the conflicts that arise from traditional Western medical practices and those of non-Western cultures. She envisions a more holistic approach to the needs of Somali women, who experience high rates of diabetes and high risk of maternal mortality.

“I imagine a healthcare model rooted in conversation between communities and their healthcare providers--a system reliant on community health workers that amplifies the voices of Somali immigrant women and facilitates communication between communities and their health care providers to care for the whole person.”

Not one to shy away from controversy, Granath presented a second paper, “Porn and Prejudice,” at the conference.

“Pornography is frequently believed to be a medium that is immoral, negative, or wrong,” she said. “Findings from the fields of positive psychology and sex-positive feminism offer insights into ways ethical pornography can lead to positive outcomes.”

The National Conference for Undergraduate Research drew more than 2000 students from across the United States. Her sessions, which included question-and-answer periods, were well attended with “people excited and engaged.”

Granath, who graduated this year, plans to continue research into gender and health issues in a global context before going to graduate school.

Published June 2014

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