GILLIAN ADYNSKI

Research Interests: Global public health

Gillian Adynski of Niskayuna, New York, has fused together her interests in travel and global health with her work and research studying health care workers around the globe. She has worked on the Middle East Project for HIV/AIDS patients, taught English to Sudanese refugees in Israel, and interned for IntraHealth International in Windhoek, Namibia. Her dissertation topic will explore the health workforce of middle and low‐income countries. She is also a competitive fencer and former Captain of UNC’s fencing team. She currently volunteers on UNC’s Fencing Team as an Assistant Coach.

Mentor: Cheryl Jones, PhD, RN, FAAN
Secondary Mentor: Pam McQuide, PhD, RN
Expected date of PhD Completion: 2020


HARRY ADYNSKI

Research Interests: The impact of chronic stress on psychiatric mental health outcomes and nursing care related to depression symptom management, treatments and recovery patterns

Harry Adynski graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from UNC in May 2018 and has begun his clinical fellowship. He plans to investigate a biopsychosocial approach towards exploring the mechanisms of depression, including the use of biomarkers to develop evidence-based nursing interventions.

Mentor: Hudson Santos, PhD, RN
Secondary Mentor: John Gilmore, MD
Expected date of PhD Completion: 2022


ELIZABETH ALLEN

Research Interests: Reducing rising incidence of health concerns associated with aging through improved care

Elizabeth Allen of Raleigh, North Carolina, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015. She is passionate about improving the quality of care provided to long‐term care residents. She is the recipient of a T32 Pre‐Doctoral Trainee Award, NR007091‐22: Interventions for Preventing & Managing Chronic Illness (2017‐2018) and completed her clinical fellowship at UNC Hospitals on an Acute Care for the Elderly Unit. Her dissertation addresses the relationship between pain and mobility/function in cognitively impaired nursing home residents. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International and the NC Nurses Association and enjoys playing piano and spending time with her dogs, Camden and Gracie.

Mentor: Anna Beeber, PhD, RN, FAAN
Expected date of PhD Completion: 2020


STEPHANIE BETANCUR GRONDONA

Research Interests: Health disparities in oncology care

Stephanie Betancur Grondona was born in Medellin, Colombia. She has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a member of the 6th cohort of Hillman Scholars. She earned a B.A. in Political Science and a B.A. in Spanish Literature and Cultures from Appalachian State University. Her primary research interest is in health disparities in oncology care. She is a member of the North Carolina Nurses Association and Sigma Theta Tau International Honors Society in Nursing—Alpha Alpha Chapter.

Mentor: Ashely Bryant, PhD, RN, OCN
Expected date of PhD Completion: 2023


KATELYN BLANCHARD

Research Interests: Pediatric Oncology

Katelyn Blanchard, now hailing from Chapel Hill, originally called Hobbsville, North Carolina home. She is enrolled in UNC’s ABSN program and is a member of the 7th cohort of Hillman Scholars; her current research interests include pediatric oncology, looking into how pediatric patients are able to make strides to understand their own diagnosis and how best to provide parents and caregivers with the support they need throughout their child’s cancer treatment. Prior to getting her second degree, she was a senior data technician at the Duke Clinical Research Institute, and served as an RA in Public Policy at UNC.  She has a BA in Environmental Studies from UNC, and was a Buckley Public Service Scholar.

Mentor: Sheila Santacroce, PhD, RN, APRN, CPNP
Expected date of PhD Completion: 2024


LILIAN GUADALUPE BRAVO

Research Interests: Improving mental health outcomes in the Latinx community through culturally competent interventions

Lilian Guadalupe Bravo is a 2018 graduate of UNC’s BSN program and is participating in the Clinical Fellowship this past year. She aspires to improve mental health care outcomes in the Latinx community through culturally competent interventions. Her current research examines culture’s role in the perceptions of mental wellness in HIV‐positive Latino men. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International and likes keeping up with new music releases, tutoring, and spending time with family and friends.

Mentor: Cheryl Giscombe, PhD, RN, PMHNP‐BC, FAAN
Expected date of PhD Completion: 2022


ANDREA CAZALES

Research Interests: Examining culturally tailored diabetes self-management education interventions in the Latino/Hispanic Population

Andrea Cazales is a member of the 6th cohort of Hillman Scholars and earned her BSN in May 2019. She is interested in examining culturally tailored diabetes self‐management education interventions in the Latino/Hispanic Population. She is known for always having a bottle of Franks Red Hot Sauce on her and she enjoys paddle boarding.

Mentor: Diane Berry, PhD, RN, FAAN
Expected date of PhD Completion: 2024


MARTHA GRACE CROMEENS

Research Interests: The intersection of the legal and health care systems, with an emphasis on issues in delayed diagnosis of endometriosis.

Martha Grace Cromeens of Bryan, Texas, earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of St. Thomas in 2002, a Master of Arts in History from Baylor University in 2007 and a Juris Doctorate from the South Texas College of Law in 2008.  Martha Grace was admitted into the first cohort of Hillman Scholars in the spring of 2013, and graduated with her BSN from UNC School of Nursing in May 2014.  She works as a nurse on a step‐down burn unit at UNC Hospital. Her research interests include legal and health care systems, with an emphasis on issues in delayed diagnosis of endometriosis. She is a member of Academy Health, American Nurse Association, North Carolina Nurses Association, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing‐‐Alpha Alpha Chapter.

Mentor: Suzanne Thoyre, PhD, RN, FAAN
Secondary Mentor: Whitney Robinson, PhD
Expected date of PhD Completion: 2022


CASSANDRA DICTUS

Research Interests: Improving the health and well-being of those served by and working in long-term services and supports

Cassandra Dictus earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from UNC in 2018. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International and enjoys spending time with her dogs, cooking, reading, being outdoors and working on the construction of her tiny house.

Mentor: Anna Beeber, PhD, RN, FAAN
Expected date of PhD completion: 2021


CRISMA EMMANUEL

Research Interests: How neurological disorders are viewed and defined by various cultures

Crisma Emmanuel of Cary, North Carolina, earned her Bachelor of Science in Social Work and Psychology from East Carolina University in 2011. She graduated from UNC’s BSN program in 2016. She has a background helping people with mental health disorders. She has previously interned at a private mental health clinical and a Federal Prison’s Step‐Down program for inmates diagnosed with Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder. Her research interests include health equity and disparities among individuals with disabilities, particularly those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. During her free time, she enjoys travel and reading. Crisma is a member of UNC’s third cohort of Hillman Scholars (2015).

Mentor: Hudson Santos, PhD, RN
Expected date of PhD completion: 2020


SANDRA GARCIA

Research Interests: Health disparities and increasing health access to migrant farm workers, specifically Latino field workers

Sandra Garcia of Ash, North Carolina, is a member the 6ht cohort of Hillman Scholars and earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in May 2019. She is interested in researching health disparities and increasing health access to migrant farm workers, specifically Latino field workers. She enjoys being outdoors and spending time with her family.

Mentor: Jada Brooks, PhD, MSPH, RN
Expected date of PhD completion: 2023


PRASHAMSHA HARIDASS

Research Interests: Pediatrics

Prashamsha Haridass earned her M.S. in Zoology from the University of Madras, Chennai, India. In 2007, she moved to the United States of America.  She returned to school after nine years of research experience in various laboratories with the goal of advancing my research career in clinical based research. Currently, Prashamsha is enrolled in UNC’s accelerated BSN program (class of 2020) and is a member of the 7th cohort of Hillman Scholars. Her research interest include pediatrics and understanding their feeding problem.

Mentor: Suzanne Thoyre, PhD, RN, FAAN
Expected date of PhD completion: 2024

 


LATESHA HARRIS

Research Interests: Intergenerational Cardiometabolic Disease and Disparities in African American Communities

Latesha Sharpe is a BSN student from Rocky Mount, NC and a member of the 7th cohort of Hillman Scholars. She is a member of Mentors2 and the Minority Nursing Student Association. Her research interests are intergenerational cardiometabolic disease and disparities in African American communities. She enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, writing poetry, reading, and traveling.

Primary Mentor: Yamnia Cortés, PhD, MPH, FNP
Secondary Mentor: Diane Berry, PhD, RN, FAAN
Expected date of PhD completion: 2024

 


REBECCA HOOVER

Research Interests: HPV and the cervical cancer vaccine

Becky Fitzula of Morehead City, North Carolina, earned her BSN from UNC in May 2019 and is a member of the 6th cohort of Hillman Scholars. She has a strong background in science and plans to fuse that background with an interest in implementation science to explore HPV and the cervical cancer vaccine. When she has free time, she like to exercise and spend time with her kids and family. Fun fact: She has a special gift for finding four leaf clovers!

Mentor: Deborah Mayer, PhD, RN, AOCN, FAAN
Expected date of PhD completion: 2023


EBAHI IKHARO

Research Interests: Global health policy and chronic illnesses in minority communities

Before moving to Raleigh, NC, Ebahi Ikharo lived in Senegal, The Gambia and Nigeria. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from UNC in May 2019.  She is a member of UNC’s 6th cohort of Hillman Scholars. Her primary research interests include global health policy and the cardiovascular health of West African women and the metabolic factors, social determinants that contributes to their state of health. She is a McNair scholar, member of Mentors2, and past co-president of the Minority Nursing Student Association. She likes to cook, read, sing, dance and has a special interest in home décor.

Mentor: Cheryl Giscombe, PhD, RN, PMHNP‐BC, FAAN
Expected date of PhD Completion: 2023


MARY KILLELA

Research Interests: Pediatric oncology, with a particular emphasis on how recreational therapy can improve the work environment for nurses and benefit patients

Mary Killela of Raleigh, North Carolina earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 2015 and was admitted to UNC’s fourth cohort of Hillman Scholars in January 2016. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2017.  She is a dog lover who is passionate about fostering trusting, supportive relationships between providers and pediatric patients and their families. Her dissertation topic, Facility dog influence on social interaction in a pediatric oncology clinic, examines how interactions with a facility dog can facilitate social interaction and minimize emotional distress in children with cancer and their caregivers. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International and enjoys going on walks with her dog.

Mentor: Sheila Santacroce, PhD, RN, APRN, CPNP
Expected date of PhD completion: 2020


CHARITY LACKEY

Research interests: Mental health disparities, especially among African American women

Charity Lackey is a recent graduate of UNC’s BSN program and is participating in the Clinical Fellowship in Maternal‐Child Health. Her research interests include the prevalence of mental health disparities, especially among African American women, and her dissertation work will examine culturally relevant interventions to improve the psychological and physical wellbeing of African American women through measurable outcomes such as improved birth outcomes and stress management. In her free time, Charity enjoys running, reading and adding to her extensive meme/GIF repository.

Mentor: Cheryl Giscombe, PhD, RN, PMHNP‐BC, FAAN
Expected date of PhD completion: 2022


ALASIA LEDFORD

Research interests: Health disparities among American Indians and Alaskan Natives

Alasia Ledford of Durham, North Carolina, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Lee University in 2004. She earned a Master of Divinity from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in 2009, and currently serves as a Childbirth Education Coordinator with North Carolina Women’s Hospital. Alasia previously held the position of Instructional Assistant-Dual Immersion Classroom (Spanish/English) with Durham Public Schools. Her community involvement includes working with UNC Hospitals as a Feria de Salud volunteer translator, Maternity tour guide with Women’s Health Information Center, Ready Set Baby Instructor with Women’s Health Information Center, and as a Doula and Mentor with UNC Birth Partners: Volunteer Doulas. Alasia’s research focuses on addressing health disparities among American Indians and Alaskan Natives, particularly on issues related to maternal and child health, particularly perinatal care and early post-natal care and the prevention of childhood obesity as it relates to early intervention methods. Alasia was admitted to UNC’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program in January 2016, and into the fourth cohort of Hillman Scholars.

Mentor: Linda Beeber, PhD, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN
Secondary Mentor: Jennifer Leeman, DrPH, MDIV
Expected date of PhD Completion: 2022


ANNA MATTHEWS

Research Interests: Women’s health equity, social determinants of health, maternal child health

Anna Rothfuss Matthews of Carrboro, North Carolina, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from North Carolina State University in 2008, and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2018. She is a member of UNC’s fifth cohort of Hillman Scholars and a practicing women’s health nurse. She has a long-term goal of facilitating health equity by improving health outcomes in women during the perinatal period. She is currently investigating the role of lower social location in migraine and perinatal mood disorders. She is a member of the American Public Health Association and the Transcultural Nursing Society.

Mentor: Shawn Kneipp, PhD, RN
Expected date of PhD completion: 2021


LEAH MORGAN

Research Interests: The nursing workforce

Leah Morgan is originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, but moved to Chapel Hill at beginning of her undergraduate career. She received her BSN from UNC in May 2015 and is a member of the second cohort of Hillman Scholars. From the time she was admitted to the nursing school, Leah has been very involved in leadership at various levels, including the Undergraduate Student Governance Council and the Association of Nursing Students. She also served as a nursing school ambassador. Leah recently completed the Clinical Fellowship at UNC Hospitals, working in pediatrics. Her research interests focus on the nursing workforce, with a particular emphasis on the attributes of caring in nurses’ work and nurse satisfaction.

Mentor: Cheryl B. Jones, PhD, RN, FAAN
Expected date of PhD completion: 2020


MONIQUE PARDO-MONTEZ

Research Interests: Infant Immunological and Neurocognitive Development

Ms. Monique Pardo-Montez is currently working on her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is also a Hillman Scholar with the intention of earning a PhD in Nursing by 2024. Additionally, she has been working with Dr. Eric Hodges since June of 2018, coding observational data for his current interventional study examining dyadic communication related to infant and child feeding. Her research interests include gaining a better understanding of how the mother-infantmicrobiome triad impacts infant immunological and neurocognitive development. Ms. PardoMontez’s long-term goal is to apply her research in the community setting to have direct, positive impacts on a local level. Her research is primarily funded through the Hillman, Mentors2, Johnston, and Covenant Scholarships. Ms. Monique Pardo-Montez is from Carrboro, North Carolina, and has an eight-year-old daughter. Her daughter’s struggle with immunological issues has had a profound effect on Ms. Pardo-Montez’s research interest and desire to help others struggling with similar issues.

Mentor: Eric Hodges, PhD, FNP-BC, FAAN
Expected date of PhD completion: 2024


VICTORIA PETERMANN

Research Interests: Healthcare education, access and equity

Victoria Petermann of Raleigh, North Carolina, earned her Bachelor of Arts in Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 2015. Her professional experience includes working as a Moxie Scholar Intern in Project Development and Communications with NARAL Pro-Choice, Durham, North Carolina. She was nominated for the Mary Turner Lane Award and was the recipient of the Jon Curtis Student Enrichment Fund Award. Her community service work consists of working as a Volunteer Doula with UNC Hospitals Birth Partners, and serving as an Events and Action Coordinator with the UNC-Chapel Hill Sierra Student Coalition. Her research interests focus on leading in the creation of evidence based clinical practice to improve maternal and child health in rural areas, educating others on the importance and practice of providing quality care, and addressing issues of healthcare access and equity. Victoria was admitted into UNC’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science program in January 2016, and is a member of UNC’s fourth cohort of Hillman Scholars.

Mentor: Jennifer Leeman, DrPH, MDIV
Expected date of PhD completion: 2020


SHELBY SMITH

Research Interests: Perinatal and Women’s health equity, biological-behavioral connections

Shelby Smith of La Plata, MD is a member of the 7th cohort of Hillman Scholars at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Before attending nursing school, she utilized her Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health to manage programs for infant mortality reduction at a local health department. Her primary research interests are in perinatal and women’s mood disorders, health equity, and biological-behavioral connections. She enjoys kayaking on the Haw River, listening to podcasts, and spending time with friends and family.

Mentor: Hudson Santos, PhD, RN
Expected date of PhD completion: 2024


KELLY TAN

Research Interests: Chronic stress responses, positive psychology, biopsychosocial mechanisms

Kelly Tan of Cary, North Carolina, is a 3rd year PhD student and member of UNC’s 3 rd cohort of Hillman Scholars. She received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Bachelor of Arts in Biology with a minor in Cognitive Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2016. Kelly brings to the program four years of experience as a research assistant in the Vironomics Core at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is an experienced hematology oncology nurse who currently practices at Duke University Hospital. Kelly’s research interest includes understanding the biopsychosocial mechanisms in stress responses. Her current dissertation project is a longitudinal study of informal caregivers of adult allogeneic bone marrow transplant recipients.

Mentor: Sheila Santacroce, PhD, RN, APRN, CPNP
Secondary Mentor: Barbara Frederickson, PhD
Expected date of PhD completion: 2020

SALLIE ALLGOOD

Research Interests: Health care related decision making in chronic diseases

Sallie Diane Allgood, of Durham, North Carolina, earned a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from Campbell University in 2000 and a Master of Science in Biology from Wake Forest University in 2005. Sallie joined the second cohort of Hillman Scholars at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in May of 2015, and earned her Ph.D. in Nursing in May of 2019. Sallie is active in the statewide conversation in North Carolina to both recognize and professionalize the community health worker (CHW) workforce. She is a recipient of the T32 Pre‐Doctoral Traineeship Award, Interventions for the Prevention and Management of Chronic Illness, School of Nursing (2017‐2018) and her dissertation explores outcomes from the delivery of an individualized lifestyle intervention aimed to reduce cardiovascular disease risks. She is a member of American Public Health Association, Academy Health, Sigma Theta Tau Alpha, and the NC CHW Workgroup. Sallie enjoys gardening and spending time with her family.

Dissertation Title: Active Ingredients of Community Health Worker – Delivered Interventions to Reduce Cardiovascular Disease Risks

Mentor: Jennifer Leeman, DrPH, MDiv
Ph.D. completion date: May 2019


LAURA BRITTON

Research Interests: Health policy, health disparities, and reproductive health in the context of chronic illness management

Laura Elizabeth Britton of New York City, New York earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences from Wellesley College in 2005 and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of North Carolina in 2014. She is a member of UNC-CH’s first cohort of Hillman Scholars and earned her Ph.D in Nursing in December 2018.  She has a long‐term goal to improve reproductive health outcomes for women with chronic illnesses, especially those who are underserved.  She is the recipient of a Pre‐Doctoral F31 Traineeship Award, “Sociodemographic, Cognitive, and Affective Antecedents to Pregnancy Planning among Women with Diabetes” and began a Post‐Doctoral T32 Traineeship at Columbia University in summer 2019. She is a member of the Society of Family Planning, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, and Sigma Theta Tau, has a green thumb and a passion for social justice.

Dissertation Title: Sociodemographic, Cognitive, and Affective Antecedents to Pregnancy Planning among Women with Diabetes

Mentor: Diane Berry, PhD, RN, FAAN
Ph.D. completion date: December 2018


ESITA PATEL

Research interests: Models of maternal care delivery in the US and impacts on health care costs and outcomes

Esita Patel of Charlotte, North Carolina, earned a B.S. in Biology, with a minor in chemistry, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2013, earning highest honors on her thesis work on the tumorigenic effects of ASC on medulloblastoma. She is a member of the second cohort of Hillman Scholars and completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in May of 2015.  She defended her dissertation on May 1st, and will graduate with her Ph.D. in August 2019.  During her time at UNC, Esita was a microbiology intern, Carolina Research Scholar, HHMI-FSC fellow, member of Phi Sigma Pi and Tri-Beta National Honors Societies, and a volunteer doula. Prior to applying to the Hillman Scholars Program, she lived and worked alongside an indigenous midwife in Tecpan, Guatemala through funding earned from the CEES fellowship.

Dissertation Title: The Impact of States Granting Full Nurse Practitioner Scope of Practice on Access to Care in a Privately Insured Population

Mentor: Barbara Mark, PhD, RN, FAAN
Ph.D. completion date: August 2019