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Candice Taylor, Black Hypertension Project

  • By UCLA Today, Daily Bruin
  • Published Oct 16, 2000 8:00 AM

With a major in physiological sciences, Candice Taylor understands at a highly technical level the causes and effects of the medical condition known as hypertension. But she also understands the disease in much more personal terms: her grandfather died of a stroke, an all too common complication of hypertension.

That loss and her interest in medicine combined to inspire Taylor to spend four years as a volunteer for the Black Hypertension Project, including two years as director of the project. She recruited and organized her fellow UCLA students, especially pre-medical students, to provide on-site blood pressure screenings in the Black and Latino communities.

Free and accurate blood pressure screenings are well received by the clients, who often lack access to regular medical care. But the project also benefits the student volunteers, allowing them to gain clinical experience and fluency in using medical terms in Spanish. "We all owe it to ourselves and to the community to volunteer," Taylor says.

The free screenings also provide an opportunity to educate the community about hypertension. African American men, in particular, are considered to be at high risk for the disease, which can cause stroke, heart attack, or serious kidney damage even in the absence of noticeable symptoms. Taylor believes that if she can communicate the importance of regular blood pressure checks and improvements in diet, she can spare other families from the loss of a loved one.

In June 2000 Taylor was awarded the Charles E. Young Humanitarian Award for her dedication to community service - a tribute to her work in the Black Hypertension Project and as a mentor for the African Brothers and Sisters program.