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U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

July Fellow of the Month

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Marie Smith-East

July 2019 Fellow of the Month Profile Photo
Ms. Marie Smith-East is a doctoral student in the College of Nursing at the University of Central Florida (UCF). She is a traditional doctoral-level Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) fellow with the American Nursing Association (ANA).

Marie’s decision to apply for the MFP was influenced by her desire to connect with other minorities in the field, the funding support provided, and the opportunity through the program to receive training and mentoring as a new PhD student. Marie described how the MFP has enriched her academic and professional career in many ways. Aside from presenting at various conferences, she has been able to publish her research and has access to phenomenal mentors. She added, “Everyone has been so helpful in providing guidance and input. I’ve conducted podium and poster presentations and have published.”

Marie is currently beginning her dissertation process, implementing a geographic information system framework to examine methods to increase access to mental health services and improve care for individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders. She explained, “Where you live can determine your access to health care. Sidewalks, bus routes, crime, etc., can all contribute to whether or not you can follow-up with your care.” While this isn’t necessarily a new area of research, she shared that it is new to the nursing field and that the MFP supports the time and funding necessary to conduct this extensive research. Marie also attributes the MFP for helping her build and nurture her professional network. While she was initially hesitant about engaging in social media, she has since begun using it for academic and professional purposes. She explained, “This new generation of millennials is very engaged with technology through webinars, social media, etc. The MFP has made me willing to keep up with technology.”

When asked what advice she would offer prospective MFP fellows, Marie shared, “The MFP will definitely change your life… I would not be where I am today, the only minority person in my cohort, studying what I’m studying, if it wasn’t for [the] MFP. The tuition, training, [and] support provides everything I need to continue the trajectory of my research. It can mold you into the mental health professional you desire to be. You don’t realize how much support you need until you’re getting it.”

Marie shared her thoughts on the MFP and her hopes to continue being a part even after graduation. “It’s such a special program, I want to still be a part of. I am so grateful for all the genuine support I’ve received from ANA. I recently returned from [a] training program in Tallahassee, FL, where I met fellows from 20 to 30 years ago. That spark is still there after all this time, the connection, and understanding are still there.... Like them, I want to be an inspiration to future African American female nurses.”

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