Jamaican Alum to be honored by Pratt Institute

Jamaican-born Dr. Goulda Downer an assistant professor at Howard University’s College of Medicine in Washington, DC. is set to receive the 2014 Community Commitment Award as a distinguished alumnus of Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The university will bestow the award on Dr. Downer, who will be honored along with several other prominent alumni who have excelled in their fields, during Pratt’s March 20, 2014, Alumni Achievement Award ceremony. She will accept her award for her leadership in public health and nutrition.

It has been quite a dizzying past 12 months for Dr. Downer, a 1977 graduate of Excelsior High School in Kingston, Jamaica. This latest recognition adds to a burgeoning list of recent prestigious awards for her.

During the past year, she was recognized by the Congressional Black Caucus of the United States with its Health Brain Trust Leadership in Advocacy Award for 2013. She received this award for her role as health care advocate and educator and for her work in public health.

Prior to that, Dr. Downer received the 2013 Health Care Leadership Award from the Washington Metropolitan Area Chapter of the National Association of Health Services Executives for her leadership in the design and establishment of two highly successful National HIV/AIDS Education and Training Center programs which she directed with a consortium of national partners.

For more than two decades, Dr. Downer has been playing a pivotal role in the United States in educating and training more than 46,000 clinicians and care providers to deliver culturally competent, quality HIV care.

“I will accept this award on behalf of those who are motivated above all by the desire to make a difference and to improve the lives of our communities,” she stated.

Her work has been credited with helping to bolster the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) clinical workforce across the USA. Dr. Downer’s public health education and awareness initiative has also contributed to slowing the rate of HIV/AIDS transmission within the United States.

After leaving Excelsior, Dr. Downer attended CAST (now the University of Technology) in Kingston, Jamaica and later studied at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, from which she graduated with a Bachelors degree in Human Nutrition.

She went on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees from Howard University, focusing on clinical, public health, international and sports nutrition. Dr. Downer later won a postdoctoral fellowship in pediatric nutrition at Georgetown University and was also trained by the Johns Hopkins University in nutritional epidemiology.

Away from her professional work, Dr. Downer has been an avid supporter of charitable causes. She just recently returned from Jamaica where she and the Downer clan continued their three-decade long annual day tradition of helping to feed and clothe some of the destitute and homeless who dot the streets of Kingston.

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