MCH Leadership Scholars, 2017-2018

PhD Student, Community and Family Health

Faculty Mentor: Janice Zgibor
Community Mentor: Deborah Austin

As a former teen mom and current mother of three boys, I have first-hand experience with forces outside of one’s control that impact health.  Consistent with the life-course perspective, it is my interest and professional goal to help mothers (and fathers!) be equipped with the knowledge, tools, and policies that support their health so that they can be optimally positioned to nurture their children’s development before conception even occurs.  I am deeply passionate about helping to create a culture that encourages the full-spectrum of development and nurtures grit and resilience in the face of life difficulties.  Although it is commonly said that this starts in the home, I believe that the places we live, work, and play are just as important, as is the context of our values, policies, and laws.

I’m interested in trauma throughout the life-course at the individual, family, and community levels, and factors that contribute to resilience.  In the past year, I’ve worked on an analysis project on early in-hospital perinatal bonding behaviors among mistimed and unwanted pregnancies, and am currently investigating the variation in length of stay among newborns diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (drug withdrawal).

I am currently exploring multi-level determinants of childhood outcomes among newborns diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome as a dissertation topic. I am currently involved with classes addressing the social and spiritual needs of children in Wesley Chapel.

I am currently serving on the executive boards of the Maternal and Child Health Student Organization (MCHSO) and the Community and Family Health Doctoral Advisory Committee (DAC).  I have previously served on the Board of Directors for a non-profit agency that provides education for deaf children and siblings in Zambia (Deaf Education and Arts for African Families), and on the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Rochester, NY.

At this point, my career goal is to determine what career path will enable me to find a work-family balance while having a sense of professional fulfillment that I’m doing something meaningful and contributing to the health of individuals, families, and communities.  I’d like to be prepared to enter academia and work as a professor and researcher, but am open to working in the government or non-profit sectors.

PhD Student, Community and Family Health

Faculty Mentor: Ellen Daley
Community Mentor: Faye Johnson

I became interested in reproductive justice and minority women’s health issues several years ago after learning about how pervasive health disparities are in the U.S. My interest in MCH was further solidified when I started to understand the life-course perspective or how infant and early childhood exposures and behaviors influence health and wellness later in life. Therefore, I began working on projects related to young women’s sexual and reproductive health as an avenue for promoting good health behaviors that continue through middle and old age.

My interests are broadly centered around sexual and reproductive health disparities work. Current projects that I am working on include a quality improvement project to introduce pregnant women to birth control options, particularly immediate postpartum long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), prior to delivery to reduce rapid repeat pregnancies and promote proper birth spacing.

My dissertation will aim to identify women’s perceptions of sexual and reproductive health care experiences related to LARC to facilitate better communication between them and health care providers to reduce unintended pregnancy.

Since entering the doctoral program in the Department of Community and Family Health, I have served as a member of the Doctoral Advisory Committee. I am a section member for the HIV/AIDs section of the American Public Health Association, have served as a coordinator for a peer health educator program at the USF Student Health Clinic and mentor undergraduate students.

I intend to continue conducting research on sexual and reproductive health issues affecting disadvantaged minority populations. My ultimate professional goal is to work at a research institute that engages community members. I have served as an instructor for several classes at USF and would like an opportunity to continue educating and mentoring students in the future.

MPH Candidate, Public Health Education

Faculty Mentor: Abraham Salinas
Community Mentor: Mindy Murphy

I have found that interpersonal violence has a unique impact on women and children, particularly among the African American community. When African American men are disproportionately victims of homicide and incarceration, the women and children in their lives are left behind.  Female-led homes have lower income, leaving these families often unable to move out of disadvantaged communities. Consequently, the children are continually exposed to violence and remain in school systems that are not fully equipped to provide the best education for their students. This results in a system of inequity for women and children that I hope to improve or prevent by proactively addressing interpersonal violence as a public health issue. My interests are on violence prevention in metropolitan cities as well as health disparities and health equity.

At the University of Maryland, I worked with the CHAMP Lab, which partnered with the faith-based community to bring awareness and prevention strategies to African American women impacted by to chronic diseases, like breast cancer.  I also worked with the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program to help women in a metropolitan community, who were diagnosed with prediabetes, prevent the onset of Type 2 Diabetes. Most recently, I volunteered with the Safe and Sound Violence Prevention Conference that aimed to prevent violence in Hillsborough County among teens and young adults.  This conference included community leaders, police officers and the school system, working together to bring awareness to the problem and facilitate and environment in which incidences of violence decrease and the community feels safe.  I’ve also worked as a graduate assistant with Dr. Alicia Best in the USF Department of Community & Family Health. There, the focus was on understanding the coping skills that women find most helpful when diagnosed with cervical or breast cancer.  I was also able to do research and manuscript writing on HPV vaccination and reasons why young women have not receive the vaccine and how we can improve vaccine uptake.

I am currently serving as the Vice President of Eta Sigma Gamma, the Health Education Honorary and have previously served as the Financial Officer on the Public Health Student Association board.

My career goal is to work within health departments, coalitions and non-profits to facilitate violence prevention efforts that target women and children. I would also like to develop programs that aim to decrease a child’s susceptibility to violent behavior in adulthood.

MPH Candidate, Maternal and Child Health

Faculty Mentor: Ronee Wilson
Community Mentor: Hope Tackett

I am an MPH student with a concentration in maternal and child health. I am currently the president of the Maternal and Child Health Student Organization and co-president of Preconception Peer Educators. I am interested in addressing sexual and reproductive health issues related to preconception/interconception health, sex education, family planning, access to abortions, and sexually transmitted infections.  I believe that effective sexual and reproductive health programs can help reduce maternal and infant mortality rates and improve health outcomes for women, children, and families. 

My career goal is to develop and evaluate programs and interventions for high-risk populations using evidence and theory-based practices.

MPH Candidate, Maternal and Child Health

Faculty Mentor: Dinorah Martinez-Tyson
Community Mentor: Allison W. Nguyen

I chose to focus on MCH as I wish to change the way social determinants impact health outlooks for women and children in regards to sexual and reproductive health, maternal health, and child health and development.

My research interests are reproductive health disparities, specifically how race and socioeconomic status impact rates of STD’s in minority women and factors contributing to low birth weight and pre-term birth in African American women and children.

In the future, it is my goal to work with and/or create programs that target specific social, behavioral, and environmental factors and practices that create and contribute to disparities in women’s reproductive health and MCH.

Past Scholars

  • Kimberly Hailey
    MPH Candidate, Maternal and Child Health

  • Maria My-Phuong Huynh
    MPH Candidate, Epidemiology and Maternal and Child Health

  • Grace Liggett
    MPH Candidate, Maternal and Child Health

  • Estefania Rubio
    MPH Candidate, Epidemiology and Maternal and Child Health

  • Manuela Thomas
    MPH Candidate, Maternal and Child Health

  • Maryouri Avendano
    MPH Candidate, Epidemiology and Maternal and Child Health

  • Shana Geary
    MPH Candidate, Epidemiology and Maternal and Child Health

  • Nanah Fofanah
    MPH Candidate, Maternal and Child Health

  • Stacey Griner
    PhD Student, Public Health

  • Nathanael Stanley
    DrPH Student, Maternal and Child Health

  • Laketa Entzminger
    MPH Candidate, Socio-health Sciences

  • Jessica Gipson
    MPH Candidate, Maternal and Child Health

  • Amelia Phillips
    MPH Candidate, Maternal and Child Health

  • Ariana Bentz
    MPH Candidate, Maternal and Child Health

  • Mahmooda Khaliq Pasha
    DrPH Student, Maternal and Child Health

  • Jeannese Castro, BA
    MPH Candidate, Maternal and Child Health

  • Nicole Demetriou, MSN
    MPH candidate, Global Health Practice

  • Salem Mengistu, BA, BS
    MPH candidate, Global Health Practice

  • Laura Merrell, MPH, CPH
    PhD Student

  • Lindsay Womack, MPH
    PhD Student

  • Erika Thompson
    PhD, 2016

  • Latrice Holt
    MPH, 2014

  • Randi McCallian
    MPH, 2014

  • Latoya Hill
    MPH, 2013

  • Elizabeth Baker

  • Erica Hesch Anstey
    PhD, 2013

  • Nicole Brasseur
    MPH, 2013

  • Emily A. Dunn
    MA/MPH, 2013

  • Aimee Eden
    MPH/PhD, 2012

  • Alison Nelson
    MPH, 2012

  • Jennifer Marshall
    PhD, 2013

  • Paul Milford
    MSW, 2013

  • Megan McLaughlin
    MPH, 2012

  • Jordana Frost
    CLC, MPH, 2011

  • Natalie Rella

  • Terry Ann Harriott

  • Melissa Mercado-Crespo
    PhD, 2012

  • Natalie Hernandez
    PhD, MCH/EPI, 2012

  • Anthony D. Panzera
    PhD, MCH/EPI, 2014