Jessica McCollough is a doctoral student pursuing a Ph.D. in nursing at Case Western Reserve University. She completed her BSN from the University of Akron and her MSN from the University of Cincinnati. Her research focuses on co-occurring substance abuse and mental health factors that impact treatment outcomes in underserved populations. Her research interests also include mental health stigma in the African American community, mental health disparities in minority communities, and barriers to mental health and medication-assisted treatment in underserved populations. She is a traditional doctoral-level fellow with the Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) at the American Nursing Association (ANA) with an anticipated graduation date of May 2022.
Jessica was initially drawn to the MFP because she was in search of an organization that supported minority individuals and aligned with her personal goals and culture. She shared, "While attending a conference, a former fellow mentioned that I should apply. After reviewing the MFP history, pictures of current fellows, and hearing about the previous fellow experiences, I was motivated to apply. I felt the program could support me in my future endeavors and that I could also give back and support the MFP once I have graduated."
When reflecting on how the MFP has enriched her academic and professional career, Jessica shared that the program has provided access to resources, supplemental learning opportunities, and mentorship. She explained, "The MFP has given me information that I would not have had otherwise through their resources and newsletters as well as the educational institutes, which have helped with fostering a community and understanding research. The mentorship has been wonderful! Guidance from experienced leaders in the field has helped build my confidence and navigate difficult situations, brainstorm, and come up with promising solutions."
The MFP has also helped to build and nurture Jessica’s professional network with others in her field. She shared, "It has brought me together with individuals who share the same interests and who also have similar lived experiences as me, which make a difference when discussing change and inequality. Being able to reach out to someone when I have a question is priceless! In addition, the MFP Institutes host a fellowship networking session to meet other fellows and leaders in the field. Having access to colleagues and experts have provided me with connections I would not have gained outside of the MFP program."
After completing the MFP, Jessica plans to continue working as a PMHNP and teach, while incorporating research. She shared, "I have many ideas, but I plan to be involved in community program development where I conduct research at the community level to help impact the minority communities. There is a great need to change the disparities in my community and I intend to help make that change. Her post-MFP plans also include continuing to support the MFP and becoming an advocate for change. She explained, "I would like to become a mentor at MFP to give back. The knowledge and skills I'm gaining are preparing me to be a leader, to educate, to be a researcher, as well as promote health equality among minority populations. I would also like to advocate and become more involved with organizations to change policies and regulation that impact minority populations. One thing I have learned is that we need to support one another, and I want to continue to support in any way possible."
When asked if she had any advice for anyone thinking about applying to the MFP, Jessica said, "Do it! It has been the most exciting fellowship that I have experienced thus far. It will be worth the time and effort. You will not regret your decision to apply. I wish I had heard about this program and applied earlier!" In closing, Jessica shared, "I'm happy that this program exists and hope it continues on for years to come. I value all the people who help to keep MFP running. Thank you."