Growing up, I remember my mother reminiscing about her aunt who was diagnosed with leukemia at age 33 and later died at age 35. Shortly after her death, my mother migrated to the United States from Jamaica and saw the scientific gains and lifesaving treatments surrounding leukemia. She often wondered if the outcome of her aunt’s illness could have been different if there had been access to these discoveries and treatments in Jamaica. This experience made me aware of health disparities and equities from an early age and inspired both my decision to become a nurse and my interest in global research.
My interest in improving health outcomes for individuals with sickle cell disease (SCD) through self-management and reducing stigma began well before I entered the PhD program. Having close friends and family members with SCD sparked my desire to understand more about SCD. Ultimately, this led me to seek a position volunteering in a sickle cell clinic prior to entering nursing school. Through this experience, I became more knowledgeable about sensitivities regarding care of SCD including the profound impact that stigma has on SCD self-management.
The mission of DUSON is in line with my personal philosophy of nursing that is centered on the idea that everyone deserves health care tailored to fit near needs, regardless of their race, sex, gender identity, class, sexuality and religious beliefs. I chose Duke because I would have the opportunity to pursue an education in nursing research that will focus on enhancing the quality of life for all people.
DUSON is actively preparing me for the future of nursing by leading by example. In addition to fostering an environment with strong mentorship committed to nursing scholarship—DUSON is constantly exploring new avenues for improvement and scrutinizing current and previously held beliefs and practices. This example encourages me to be critical of my beliefs and open to change as the future of nursing progresses.