Scholar Class – 2012
Monica Motley is a dual degree student at Virginia Tech seeking a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in the Department of Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences and a Masters of Public Health Degree in the Department of Population Health Sciences. As a native of Danville, Virginia, a medically underserved area that struggles with high rates of obesity and chronic disease, she developed a personal understanding of the many barriers people face to lead and sustain healthy lives. Growing up in a household with a teacher and community activist for parents, Monica was taught to use her talents to be a catalyst for change, and not just to be a beneficiary of change. This has inspired Monica’s academic and professional career path. She plans to become a social scientist and public health practitioner seeking to better understand how various socioeconomic factors influence health behaviors and outcomes in high risk populations, such as the LGBTQ community.
Coming out at the age of 16, Monica was fortunate to have a supportive family, but still experienced various aspects of marginalization as a triple minority: woman, African‐American and lesbian. However, she has chosen to use those negative experiences as a powerful tool to excel beyond associated stereotypes. In 2007, she was elected the first African American Homecoming Queen in 35 years, as well as the first openly gay Homecoming Queen at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her campaign motto was “Be Proud of Who You Are” and her message promoted acceptance and diversity. Monica currently holds a B.S from Virginia Commonwealth University and M.S.Ed from Virginia Tech.