When Kayla Dillon hangs up her lab coat after a long day of studying and practicing medicine, she laces up her shoes and hits the sidewalks of New York City. A passionate medical student and dedicated advocate for the justice-involved community, Kayla is thrilled to be running with the Fortune Flyers, as she tackles her second New York City Marathon.
“I’m excited to be part of the Fortune team. And I know that it seems like it’s going to be a close-knit group, which is great,” Kayla said. “I’m hoping that my little bit of experience from last year gives me some wisdom about how to run. But also, I’m just super excited to see all the Fortune people on the course.”
Kayla decided to run with The Fortune Society after hearing about our mission through her own justice advocacy work. As she has learned more about the justice system, she’s begun working on a project at her school that had a goal of bridging the gap between justice-involved people and the medical system.
When Kayla is not striking the pavement or studying for her third year of medical school, she is helping design an OBGYN Clinic at Long Island Jewish Hospital, along with her fellow medical students at Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine.
“I’m interested in social justice and advocacy, especially as it relates to medicine,” Kayla said. “But once I started medical school, I realized obviously that there’s a huge need to address the disproportionately negative impact of the criminal justice system on people [once they return home], particularly from a medical perspective.
She emphasizes the importance of advocacy within medical care, especially for people who are justice-involved. “Self-advocacy within healthcare is important, and it’s hard because both of those are tangible skills, but it’s not necessarily like there’s a rulebook on how to be incredibly health literate or advocate for yourself,” she said. “I think it’s something that comes with time but from a provider perspective, empowering patients to be able to pursue resources and more information, or even engage more in conversations that allow them to be more involved in care is important.”
Kayla will start training for the marathon soon, and while she usually sticks to a few routes along the water, she plans to tackle the taxing city bridges soon to prep for the long trek come November 5th.
“In general, I’m really impressed and kind of overwhelmed by the amazing services Fortune offers. And I’m excited to be able to contribute my small part to that.”