After earning my PhD in Clinical Psychology from Duke, I accepted a clinical research fellowship at Johns Hopkins University, where I completed an MHS degree in epidemiology and worked with experts in health services research and sickle cell disease. I also served on faculty at Howard University. There, I taught psychology courses, received mentorship in African American psychology from leaders in the field, and gained hands-on experience in disparities research and community engagement while working with Howard’s Sickle Cell Program.
In 2014, I joined the University of Pittsburgh faculty to work on behavioral intervention technology trials with the Center for Behavioral Health and Smart Technology and to be part of Pitt’s growing sickle cell disease program. I am currently funded through an AHRQ PCOR K12 grant to lead a program of research in sickle cell disease focused on designing, cost-effective, scalable, mobile technology-delivered, stress and pain management interventions that patients can easily access on their own mobile phones or tablets.
As the eldest child of immigrant parents, I wanted to be the first in my family to graduate from college. But I lacked direction and by my senior year of high school I had lost sight of my goals. I didn’t go to a prestigious college or have a long resume of impressive extracurricular activities and experiences. I was not the type of student that goes on to receive a PhD from Duke University. Yet, the Psychology faculty at Duke saw something in me that I didn’t even see in myself. My mentor, Redford Williams, took me on as a student and spent countless, frustrating hours working with me so I could become the scientist-practitioner he believed I could be. Before arriving at Duke, I had never attended a national science conference let alone published a journal article. By the end of my time at Duke, I had 16 publications with Redford and other Duke University faculty who were willing to trust and invest in me and my career. It is because of these faculty members, advisors, mentors, and friends that I am where am today and the reason I will never give up, I will never waiver, I will work every day to achieve the vision they had for my career.