MCH Leadership Scholars
2012 - 2013
Faculty Mentor: Bill Sappenfield
Community Mentor: Lisa Colen
I believe mothers and children are the cornerstone for preventive measures in terms of public health. Public health interventiosn in the perinatal period and in childhood are essential for a healthy population. Thus, I wanted to surround myself in an environment devoted to this concept. Presently, I am a Graduate Assistant with the Center for Transdisciplinary Research on Women's Health in the College of Public Health. Current projects focus on women's oral-systemic conditions across the lifespan.
This year I am coaching a group of middle school girls for the positive youth development program, Girls on the Run of the Southern Tampa Bay council. This program aims to build strong social and emotional skills and self-esteem for middle school grils. This volunteer opportunity interested me because it empowers young girls to establish a lifelong commitment to physical activity and healthy living. Currently, I work as an instructional assistant to the COPH undergrdauate biostatistics course, as well as assist with the graduate course for infectious disease epidemiology.
My future career goals include completing my PhD in epidemiology at USF with a dissertation focus in MCH, and eventually teaching and conducting research at a university. My personal goal is to make a difference in the field of maternal and child health.
Faculty Mentor: Stephanie Marhefka
Community Mentor: Iris Grimsley
My passion for services, healthy infant development and women's reproductive health began as an undergraduate at University of Maryland, College Park. It was through their prestigious public health program that I was able to serve in an internship at a nonprofit organization called A Wider Circle (AWC) whose mission was to help women and children lift themselves out of poverty. As an intern I spent most of my time working directly in the Education Department by leading Health Promotion workshops and social activities at public housing facilities in Washington, DC and supporting the Well Mother, Well Baby program at a participating school. I worked with adolescent mothers who sought out information and resources on healthy nutrition, brastfeeding, infant development, child safety, professional development and more. Working with this population fueled my desire to pursue a MPH focusing on maternal and child health issues.
My research interests include breastfeeding, childbirth, prenatal care, minority health disparities, and reproductive health. I'm particularly intruiged by the health outcomes of infants born in urban communities and rural areas. I hope to get involved with nonprofit organizatiosn whose mission and goals correlate with my interests.
Over the past few years, I've had the privilege of holding many positions that have prepared me for leadership within the MCH field. In college I served as the Vice President of A Woman's Worth, a student organization that focuses on uplifting college women and giving back to the community through bi-weekly workshops and mentoring. I also occupied many leadership positions within my beloved sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, inc. I also found joy in volunteering for woman's service organizations such as the Breastfeeding Center of Greater Washington. These roles have uplifted my character and have prepared me to serve in the field.
It is my desire to develop and coordinate progams that provide a wealth of knowledge and skill to reproductive women so that they and their babies can function and be productive citizens in their community. It is important to me to enter a career where I am able to help eliminate the resistance of minorities seeking and receiving services that can benefit the health adn wellness of them and their children.
Faculty Mentor: Kathleen O'Rourke
Community Mentor: Candice Mcdonald
I have always had a passion for pregnancy, birth and newborns. I have chosen to work in the field of maternal and child health because I believe conception, pregnancy and the time after birth are crucial in the health and well-being of families, communities, and all of human-kind. I am interested in research concerning evidence-based pregnancy and birth practices, promoting midwifery care for healthy pregnancies, and increasing breastfeeding knowledge and support.
I currently work in the Lawton and Rhea Chiles Center for Healthy Mothers and Babies on a project with the Floirda Perinatal Quality Collaborative and the March of Dimes-Florida chapter for eliminating non-medically indicated deliveries prior to 39 weeks gestational age. This project is dedicated to helping providers, payers, and the public know about the importance of the last few weeks of pregnancy in the overall health of the baby, and the public health impact that early deliveries can have on our population. I am a co-facilitator of a new breastfeeding support group targeted at the USF community to support breastfeeding mothers that work at or attend USF. I also support women in labor as a birth doula. I love this position because it keeps me in touch with the individual woman and the importance of her experience in birth and early motherhood; rather than just on the greater perspective of public health.
In my home state of Colorado, I spent time volunteering with pregnant teen mothers teaching childbirth education classes, newborn care, pre and post natal bonding, and I served as a volunteer doula. I am currently the President of the Maternal and Child Health Student Organization, where I hope to support others interests in MCHSO, bring our students into the community and improve awareness and health of MCH issues, and to improve my understanding of leading a group of passionate students in a variety of endeavors and projects.
I have many future interests, among them: teach childbirth education to expecting parents, continue my Birth Doula work, further my training in breastfeeding and potetnially become an IBCLC, as well as teaching women's health and other related courses at an undergraduate level. I also look forward to working with a community, state or federal health agency and maybe even consulting with hospitals in being Baby and Mother friendly. I beleive my possibilies are endless and I look forward to seeing where my experiences lead.
Faculty Mentor: Russ Kirby
Community Mentor: Leisa Stanley
I began my masters program wantin to learn more about the issues faced by women and children in this country and determine strategies to improve their health status. Progressing the health and well being of mothers and children is a critical public health mission for the United States, as their well being directly influences the health of future generations. My research interests include health disparities, specifically impacting birth and pregnancy outcomes as well as child development, paternal involvement, and domestic violence. I am currently conducting research with the Florida Department of Health to assess the impact of perceived discrmination on the use of preventive health services by women of childbearing age. Also, I am conducting a systematic review to determine the operationalization and efficacy of discrimination measures in birth and pregnancy outcome research.
Recently, I worked on the Hillsborough County Domestic Violence Safety Analysis project, which utilized a community based participatory research approach to identify gaps in the criminal justice system response to domestic violence. I also participated in the Embracing Fatherhood Initiative, a student-led advocacy initiative. We partnered with Dr. Deborah Austin of ReachUP, Inc. in Tampa, FL in the drive for increased awareness and support regarding services inclusive of fathers. Our efforts began with the Florida Association of Healthy Start Coalitions by developing and presenting an evidence-based initiative to promote father-friendly practices within the organizational culture. I was the membership coordinator fo the Maternal and Child Health Student Organization in 2011, and am the newly appointed Service Chair for 2012.
My primary career goal is to obtain a position as a maternal and child health epidemiologist and conduct applied research that directly impacts people, programs and policies.
Faculty Mentor: Kay Perrin
Community Mentor: Judi Vitucci
Because I believe that reproductive health is a human right, I have dedicated my academic career to learning more about the complex web of factors that affect reproductive health. Specifically, my research interests include women’s health across the lifespan; interprofessional team-based patient care; sexual health education; infertility; and health communication.
Presently, I am working on a number of projects as a Graduate Research Associate in the Department of Community and Family Health. One such project is the Ford Grant, which funds a number of USF faculty and students to examine the social, historical, and policy-related contextual characteristics that facilitate support for adoption of sexuality education programming in Florida county public schools. I am also a manuscript writer for the Cognitive and Emotional Responses to an HPV Infection in Men Study (CER Study). Lastly, I am an instructor for the undergraduate course, Sex, Health, and Decision Making.
Previously, I assisted Dr. Rita Debate and Dr. Ellen Daley with submitting the USF College of Public Health Interdisciplinary Research Development, Grant Transforming Women's Health: Using the Oral/Systemic Connection as a New Paradigm to Improve Women's Health. This project led to the establishment of the Center for Transdisciplinary Research in Women’s Health (CTR-WH) at USF. I also acted as a Graduate Teaching Assistant to Dr. Ellen Daley for the graduate course, Women's Health.
Currently, I am most excited about my dissertation research related to polycystic ovary syndrome, the leading cause of female infertility. While my dissertation will only be the first step in my research plan, my long-term goal is to eventually identify the best strategies to promote health across the lifespan in women living with this chronic illness. Ultimately, I want to conduct research that will translate into sound interventions and public health practice.
As a doctoral candidate, my immediate goal is to complete my dissertation work and to begin my search for an academic position that will allow me to continue my research plan. My personal goal is to make a difference in the field of maternal and child health, particularly in bringing more attention to infertility as a significant public health issues.