Makeda James is really, really bothered when people smoke. In fact, she admits to being one of those reformers who will actually go up to someone and explain why it’s not only bad for them to smoke, it’s bad for everyone and everything else around them. It’s a good thing she’s got such a sunny disposition—she’s much better at persuasion than being threatening, and it seems to be working for her.
Q: What’s your center of focus right now?
A: I’m working with a group called POW’R Against Tobacco [link], a non-profit organization that uses community education, media and advocacy to decrease the social acceptability of tobacco use. I am the Westchester County Coordinator for the program, and with the help of the Westchester Coalition, I’m able to achieve pretty much everything we set out to achieve.
Q: What are you best known for?
A: I’ve been “almost famous” ever since an article [link] was written about me for the New York Medical College newsletter, In Touch. It described my practicum experience with POW’R. We had a lot of success with one of our campaigns to ask local tobacco retailers to modify or eliminate tobacco advertising in their stores. Since studies show that young people are three times more sensitive to tobacco advertising than adults and are more likely to be influenced by an ad than by peer pressure—well, you can see why I’m kind of a zealot.
Q: What helped you decide to come to New York Medical College for your degree?
A: The affordable tuition and the helpfulness of the administration in the School of Public Health.
Q: What is your next goal?
A: To graduate, and after that, to become fluent in Japanese.
Q: What do you want prospective students to know about New York Medical College?
A: This place will become another home to you. The faculty and staff are like additional family members who will invest their time in your success.