Student Spotlight December 2010
Laneshia McCord is a second year doctoral student in the Kent School of Social Work. She received a Bachelor's in Social Work at the University of Kentucky and then moved to Atlanta and worked for a few years, and while working went on to obtain a Master's in Social Work from the University of Georgia. Laneshia was the first student at U of L to receive the AGE SW Gerontological Social Work Pre-Dissertation Initiative. She has presented at national and statewide conferences, and has been invited to present throughout the aging community as well as to her peers on aging issues and workforce development.
How would you describe your area of study/ specific research to your grandmother?
I am interested in ensuring that people over the age of 50 have access to adequate knowledge about STDs, HIV/AIDS, and that current interventions used to increase their knowledge are developed and conducted in a way that they will understand. I want to address myths about HIV and educate older adults about the rise of cases in their demographic, why it is happening, and what can be done about it.
What made you go into this field of study?
My great-grandmother raised me as a child and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease as I was entering into junior high school. She made me fall in love with older people and really discover the wealth of their nature and existence. She was so kind, patient, and willing, and I wanted to showcase the effects of her kind spirit on me to others.
What are your long term aspirations?
I would like to establish an educational curriculum on HIV/AIDS with an emphasis on disproportionately affected populations and specific strategies to address associated issues. I would like to see communities of older adults have access to culturally sensitive information and resources on the psychosocial aspects of their quality of life.
What accomplishment, academic or otherwise, are you most proud of?
An accomplishment that I am most proud of is that I am the first person in my family to be working towards a PhD. I believe that this will influence and encourage others in my family and social networks to continue to achieve what is possible by attempting the seemingly impossible.
What is your favorite part of the graduate school experience?
My favorite part of this experience has been the weekly commute from Lexington to be with my colleagues. They make it worth the drive, and I have time while driving to really reflect on discussion and work that is being done.
What do you feel is the greatest challenge that graduate students face and how have you dealt with this challenge?
The greatest challenge that graduate students face is juggling personal with professional. My husband, Quentin, and I have two daughters, Kennedy and Jordan. I think that whether you have a family of 2 or 12, it is about balance, and it can be challenging in contemporary education where people are working, taking care of family, and working towards higher education. I have dealt, and currently deal with, this challenge by trying to involve my family in my activities as much as possible, and as much as they will allow me to!
A talent you have always wanted: To be able to run really fast
Favorite book: Aesop’s Fables
Favorite quote: “I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything but I can still do something; I will not refuse to do the something I can do.” – Helen Keller
Role Model: My Aunt Jen-Jen, who is 85 and lives her life without conventions
Pet Peeve: Feelings of entitlement and privilege
If you weren’t in graduate school, what would you be doing now?
I would probably still be living in Atlanta and working for my last employer, doing case management and working on independent projects, and driving everyone crazy because of my need to do more!