Peter Stevens, M.A. '83

Student Spotlight

By Vinny Reda, B.A.’74

Dorcey Applyrs, M.P.H.’05 ~ A True Gem


chool of Public Health doctoral student Dorcey Applyrs channels Mahatma Gandhi in describing her work with young African-American women in the Capital Region: “It is my way of taking part in the change I want to see.”

For four years, Applyrs has been an adviser with Delta GEMS (Growing & Empowering Myself Successfully), the community-service project of the Albany Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. She conducts sessions and exercises that seek to guide the 14- to 18-year-olds toward achieving their dreams.

Middletown, Conn., police headquarters

Delta GEMS participants

GEMS meetings focus on “discussions of self-esteem, body image, bullying, HIV/AIDS and other issues that impact participants’ mental and physical health,” explained Applyrs, who earned a B.S. in psychology at Delaware State University (DSU). “Each meeting, I facilitate a 15-to-20-minute physical activity component to engage the girls in some form of exercise while promoting physical activity as a social norm. The program serves lunch and snacks, like fresh fruit, salads and yogurt, to encourage healthy eating.”

Other subjects include multiculturalism and careers. Applyrs arranged for GEMS teens and Karen girls whose families had left Burma and settled in Albany to meet and talk about culture, unity and community-service opportunities. Topics for sessions related to “grade-specific career preparation” include “résumé-writing, developing a personal statement, interviewing, and completing college applications,” Applyrs said. “We have also brought in professionals to talk about the significance of a college education and best practices for climbing the career ladder.”

Like the young women she advises, Applyrs has a mentor: fellow Washington, D.C., native and DSU graduate Dwight Williams. The clinical associate professor of health policy recruited Applyrs to the School of Public Health, assuring her “that he was committed to my future success, academically and professionally. His commitment has been unwavering,” noted Applyrs, a 2012 Center for Women in Government and Civil Society Women in Public Policy Fellow.

Once she completes her studies, Applyrs will “pursue a position that will enable me to advocate for initiatives and policies that will improve communities’ quality of life and prevent poor health outcomes, such as HIV/AIDS, obesity, diabetes, cancer and influenza.”

Applyrs is married to Don-Lee Applyrs, B.A.’03, M.S.’06. The couple met at UAlbany.