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
Expected date of PhD Completion: 2019


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
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: 2019[/row]


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, and completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in May of 2015. 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.
Mentor: Jennifer Leeman, DrPH, MDiv
Expected date of PhD Completion: December 2018


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 fall. 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


LAURA BRITTON

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

Laura Elizabeth Britton of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 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. She has a long‐term goal to improve reproductive health outcomes for women with chronic illnesses, especially those who are underserved. Her dissertation topic is Sociodemographic, Cognitive, and Affective Antecedents to Pregnancy Planning among Women with Diabetes. She is the recipient of a Pre‐Doctoral F31 Traineeship Award, “Sociodemographic, Cognitive, and Affective Antecedents to Pregnancy Planning among Women with Diabetes” and will begin 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.
Mentor: Diane Berry, PhD, RN, FAAN
Expected date of PhD completion: December 2018


ANDREA CAZALES

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

Andrea Cazales is enrolled in UNC’s BSN program and is a member of the 6th cohort of Hillman Scholars. 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: TBD
Expected date of PhD Completion: 2023


MARTHA GRACE CROMEENS

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

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. Martha Grace likes Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain.
Mentor: Suzanne Thoyre, PhD, RN, FAAN
Expected date of PhD Completion: May 2020


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: Cecelia Roscigno, PhD, RN, CNRN
Expected date of PhD completion: December 2020


REBECCA FITZULA

Research Interests: HPV and the cervical cancer vaccine

Becky Fitzula of Morehead City, North Carolina, is currently enrolled in the BSN program at UNC 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: TBD
Expected date of PhD completion: 2023


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 enrolled in UNC’s BSN program and is a member of the 6ht cohort of Hillman Scholars. 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: TBD
Expected date of PhD completion: 2023


EMMA GARRETT

Research Interests: Female health disparities in the Latino population

Emma Garrett is enrolled in UNC’s accelerated BSN program and is a member of the 6th cohort of Hillman Scholars. She has a B.A. in Spanish Literature and Cultures from UNC and was a cheerleader for the men’s basketball and football teams. After graduation, Emma spent a year in Madrid teaching English. Her research interests include female health disparities in the Latino population. She enjoys travel, reading, learning new languages, a good crossword puzzle and cooking for friends and family.
Mentor: TBD
Expected date of PhD completion: 2023


STEPHANIE BETANCUR GRONDONA

Research Interests: Health disparities in oncology care

Stephanie Betancur Grondona was born in Medellin, Colombia and moved to North Carolina at the age of 12. She is currently enrolled in UNC’s BSN program and is a member of the 6th cohort of Hillman Scholars. Her primary research interest is in health disparities in oncology care. Her hobbies include salsa dancing, rock climbing, swimming and travel.
Mentor: Ashely Bryant, PhD, RN, OCN
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 is a dual BSN and Biology major and member of UNC’s 6th cohort of Hillman Scholars. Her primary research interests include chronic illnesses in minority communities and global health policy. She is a member of Mentors2 and 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 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: December 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 will focus on addressing health disparities among American Indians and Alaskan Natives, focusing 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.


ANNA MATTHEWS

Research Interests: Examining the ways cultural and social constructs influence women’s health decisions and behavior

Anna Matthews recently graduated from UNC’s BSN program and will began her clinical fellowship in the fall of 2018. She has a background in Anthropology and is interested in how cultural and social constructs influence women’s health decisions and behavior. Anna is currently investigating management of migraine in women from lower social locations, with a focus on patterns of learning among mothers and daughters. She is a member of American Public Health Association, Council on Nursing and Anthropology, Transcultural Nursing Society, loves to travel and embark on family adventures.
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: May 2019


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. 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. She is a member of UNC’s second cohort of Hillman Scholars.
Mentor: Barbara Mark, PhD, RN, FAAN
Expected date of PhD completion: May 2019


VICTORIA PETERMAN

Research Interests: Healthcare education, access and equity

Victoria Peterman 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: December 2020


KELLY TAN

Research Interests: Local public health; specifically improving HIV prevention and increasing routine HIV testing

Kelly Tan of Cary, North Carolina, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May 2016. She was admitted into UNC’s third cohort of Hillman Scholars. Kelly brings to the program her experience working with under-served populations in North Carolina as an HIV/STD counselor at the UNC Student Health Action Coalition, and her experience working as a research assistant in the Vironomics Core at UNC Lineberger Cancer Research Center. Kelly’s research focuses on local public health; specifically improving HIV prevention and increasing routine HIV testing. As part of her BSN program, Kelly completed an honors project by conducting an integrative literature review and interviews with nurses to examine stigma towards patients with HIV, and identify educational opportunities and the benefits of stigma reduction.
Mentor: Sheila Santacroce, PhD, RN, APRN, CPNP
Expected date of PhD completion: 2020