Doctoral Nursing Student Receives Fellowship Award

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This year, Wafa Khasawneh, a doctoral nursing student at the UTHSC, is one of six individuals nationwide to receive a three- to five-year doctoral fellowship award from the Southern Regional Education Board.

This year, Wafa Khasawneh, a doctoral nursing student at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), is one of six individuals nationwide to receive a three- to five-year doctoral fellowship award from the Southern Regional Education Board. The doctoral candidate’s work is focused on identifying strategies that support and promote breastfeeding for the health of both the mother and baby.

The incidence of breastfeeding in the United States has been declining over the past two decades. Such a decrease in prevalence and duration of breastfeeding can be attributed to numerous obstacles. Khasawneh explains, “My primary concerns are to improve the health and quality of life for women and children. These are my strongest interests because they are fundamental to our nation’s health.”

Khasawneh’s goal is to be exposed to high-quality scientific research and education and share information about promoting mother-child health through breastfeeding practices within the scientific and health care communities. She intends to help create an awareness of this emerging national concern with the general public. The UT College of Nursing’s Doctor of Philosophy program offers her the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge research projects that will benefit women and children’s health. Khasawneh will conduct her dissertation using data from the CANDLE Study, Conditions Affecting Neurocognitive Development and Learning. Funded by The Urban Child Institute, CANDLE, http://www.candlestudy.org, is conducted by a cross-disciplinary team headed by the UTHSC Department of Preventive Medicine. CANDLE investigators examine factors that promote or inhibit a child’s development and ability to learn from birth through the child’s third year. More than 60 percent of women in the program are African-American. Data collected from the study will allow Khasawneh to analyze various factors that facilitate or hinder the act of breastfeeding.

The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works with 16 member states to improve public pre-K-12 and higher education. Founded by the region’s governors and legislators in 1948, SREB was America’s first interstate compact for education. Today it is the only regional education compact that works directly with state leaders, schools and educators to improve teaching, learning and student achievement at every level of education. For more information, visit www.sreb.org.