• May 02 2024

SPARK Graduate Takes Her Passion for Public Health to Harvard

A young Black woman dressed in a white suit with gold belt stands and leans her right elbow on a gray bollard. She has chest-length black hair and is smiling at the camera. In the background is a very large stone sculpture of the UK inisignia.
Video produced by UK Public Relations and Strategic Communications. To view captions for this video, push play and click on the CC icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. If using a mobile device, click on the "thought bubble" in the same area.


LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 2, 2024) — Princess Magor Agbozo takes every opportunity seriously.  

Opportunities to lead, to serve and to represent – the University of Kentucky international student has taken every one of them. That’s evidenced by a long list of achievement ranging from research awards to Lyman T. Johnson Torch Bearer to reigning Homecoming Queen.  

As Agbozo ranges closer to crossing the commencement stage at Rupp Arena on Saturday, that word – opportunity – keeps coming to mind. Graduating from UK was not an option she ever imagined while growing up in her home country of Ghana and in Qatar, where her family lives now. 

“Graduating from the University of Kentucky, for me personally, means more opportunities,” Agbozo said. “Getting this degree is opening doors for me to spaces that I never imagined myself to be in.” 

After Agbozo accepts her degree in public health, she’ll be taking her talents north to pursue a master’s degree in public health from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.  

“It's a great opportunity for me to continue to build what I have learned so far as a public health professional and practitioner,” Agbozo said. 

She’s hoping one day to take her academic career full circle and return home to Ghana to assist the public health system in any way she can. Agbozo is especially interested in global health and working to erase existing health disparities and increase equitable access to quality health care.  

“I'm interested in global health, because of the different experiences that I've had, in my lifetime with my family, with friends in relation to the public health system,” Agbozo said. “Health is seen or has become a luxury to some people when it should be something that everybody has access to.” 

Starting college from afar 

Agbozo’s decorated career at UK started over 7,000 miles away. The first-generation student started college amid in the fall of 2020 during the global upheaval brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Agbozo took classes and bonded with campus remotely from Qatar.  

“For me, it was just getting to know more about the community as much as possible so that when I got here, it would have it would just be easy for me to transition,” Agbozo said.  

Online and over Zoom, she connected with her first student organization – the Student Activities Board (SAB). Agbozo has served in multiple positions at SAB throughout her time at UK. SAB allowed her the space to learn to be a student leader. 

“It has taught me a lot of things,” Agbozo said of her time with SAB. “Working with people, interacting with faculty and staff, and then also seeing areas on campus where we can best serve students and ensure that they are also having an enriching experience on campus.” 

Agbozo didn’t set foot on campus until Jan. 17, 2021. She threw herself into the in-person experience, becoming a resident adviser, an international student ambassador and an ambassador for the College of Public Health.  

As a first-generation student from overseas, the UK International Center was indispensable for Agbozo. When she started at UK, Agbozo said she knew very little about college and leaned on the center to get acclimated. 

“I got all the resources that I needed in terms of knowing where to go if I needed help with something, how to navigate classes, how to navigate my professors and going to their office hours,” Agbozo said. 


Becoming a researcher

Within the College of Public Health, Agbozo said she’s valued the closeness between students and faculty. Agbozo particularly enjoyed her research work with Maureen Jones, Ph.D., a professor within the College of Public Health and Adebola Adegboyega, Ph.D., a College of Nursing professor. 

“I think they both really taught me what it means to be a researcher,” Agbozo said. “Most of their research is qualitative. But that's something that I'm interested in. I'm not very into the lab, I’m more into people. Listening to them and seeing how we can learn from them. And I think they've taught me the importance of listening.” 

She gained further research experience through the SPARK (Students Participating as Ambassadors for Research in Kentucky) Program, which trains undergraduate students from under-represented backgrounds in how to conduct research, from designing a study and submitting IRB applications to presenting their findings at a conference. Agbozo's SPARK project explored how the race of health workers impact Black women's childbearing experiences; Dr. Corrine Williams served as her mentor. 

"I established my foundation in research from the SPARK program, she said.  "I learned everything that research entailed including the IRB process, gathering data, as well as interpreting the data to get results and conclusions. As a result of what I learned from the SPARK program, I have been able to participate in other research programs that have helped me be a better public health practitioner!"

Agbozo has also found community and mentorship in the Lewis Honors College. Her overall time in the college was “enriching” and the Rising Leaders program was “truly one of the best programs that I was in here at the university.” 

“I was able to learn a lot about leadership,” Agbozo said. “Including fighting impostor syndrome, how to present yourself, how to network, how to make sure that you are being the best that you possibly could be, especially as a leader.” 

A ‘positive impact’  

Agbozo has also embraced opportunities to represent students of color. On behalf of the College of Public Health, Agbozo was named a 2022 recipient of the Lyman T. Johnson Torch Bearer Award – an honor named after the first Black American student to attend the university.  

When Agbozo was named Homecoming Queen last fall, she said other international students told her it was encouraging to see an international student be in that position.  

“I'm grateful that I could be a form of hope or an example to people to see that they can also achieve their dreams,” Agbozo said. “And it's not just within the academic spectrum, but as a leader, as somebody who's able to have a positive impact on campus.” 

Her influence extends beyond campus, Agbozo said, as her family abroad has certainly taken notice of what’s possible with a quality education. 

“Not only am I setting an example for my siblings, but also my extended family,” Agbozo said. “Not everyone within my community has had that opportunity to go to college and get an education. But seeing me come through college, work hard and achieve all these goals and also grow as a person, they have seen the importance of education.”  


The May 2024 Commencement Ceremonies were held on Friday and Saturday, May 3 and 4, at Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center. Agbozo spoke to the graduating class during the Saturday ceremony. More information can be found at https://commencement.uky.edu/


The SPARK program is supported by the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences through grant number UL1TR001998.  The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.


by Rick ChildressVendela Norris, and Steve Shaffer