Student Spotlight September 2020
Nana received her Bachelor’s Degree in Health Education from Southern Illinois University. She later attended Michigan State University where she received her Master's in Public Health. Nana is currently a doctoral student candidate in the Health Promotion and Behavior Science program here at the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences. Nana's anticipated graduation is May 2022.
I chose U of L because of the extensive body of research and resources the faculty at the School of Public had to support me in my research area and PhD journey.
.My area of research is infectious diseases (specifically HIV) among vulnerable population such (women and children) in low and middle income countries.
Women are most likely to get and live with HIV compared to men worldwide. Majority of HIV infection among worldwide is through heterosexual sex. My research interest is to explore the factors that influence the behavior and risk of HIV infection among heterosexual men and how that influence HIV risk infections among women in Ghana.
My involvement with this work fueled from seeing the impact HIV/AIDS had on both the individual and the community level in Ghana growing up. I remember the lack of knowledge, stigma, and fear that came with the word “HIV” or “AIDS”. My interest was reinforced during my first return to the country as part of my undergraduate practicum, where I worked with a local health facility doing sexual health education. This made me realize that there were still a lot of unmet needs for this epidemic.
Scholarship Recipient – US AIDS Conference
Scholarship Recipient - U of L MAGS Research Award
Grant Recipient – U of L Graduate Council
Co-Principal Investigator – PrEP Ghana Study
Discussant - Senior Thesis Presentations 23rd Annual American Association of Behavioral and Social Sciences Conference
6. How do you think this advanced degree will change your role in society?
HIV remains very prevalent in Sub Saharan Africa. Matter of fact, the continent is home to 70% of people living with HIV. The HIV rates in Ghana remain stable with a surge in prevalence in certain geographical areas. Women are also affected the most when it comes to the virus globally and in Ghana. With most of the transmission of HIV coming from heterosexual sex, it is important that we do not focus on just women but also include heterosexual men in efforts to eliminate this disease. This work is also important because I believe “prevention is better than cure”. The focus should not be on treating HIV but exploring the root causes of behavior and finding ways to intervene.
My long term goal is to secure an appointment in academia or with a federal/global agency or institution where I can conduct global health research in one or more of the following areas (HIV/AIDS, child marriage, and male’s involvement in women’s sexual health).
Entering into candidacy for my PhD.
Winning 3MT for U of L and representing the school on the Regional Level.
Presenting my research at the United Nations at the Afro-European Medical and Research Network 2019 Conference
Getting awarded a Fulbright-Fogarty to collect my dissertation data in Ghana
My favorite part of graduate school is the thrill and challenge of learning new things and connecting the dots with new knowledge and skills. It’s like my brain is constantly on the move.
Having a school/life balance.
I schedule self-care days and also reward myself with vacations when I complete major milestones.
I love hanging out with my nephews and nieces on my free time. They are usually my get away ticket to watch kid’s movies.
A talent you have always wanted: Dancing and Decorating Cakes
Favorite book: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Favorite quote: If at first you don't succeed try again!
If you weren’t in graduate school, what would you be doing now? A project manager in non profit organization.