Student Scholarships

Stempel Scholars

The Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work (RSCPHSW) received funding from the Ernest Stempel Foundation to be used for student scholarships and financial aid – specifically, to support MPH students. One student is selected annually, based on specific criteria. The Stempel Scholarship Committee monitors each recipient’s academic progress. When graduating, students supported by the Stempel Scholarship through graduation are known as “Stempel Scholars – a tribute to the donor foundation and the memory of Dr. Robert R. Stempel.

In 2012-13, the Stempel Scholarship was awarded to two students in Public Health.

Ashley Fiona Desamours, from the Department of Health Policy and Management (HPM), chose to pursue a Master’s in Public Health and specialize in health policy and management because “[she] realized that public health could be applied to nearly every facet of life and that [she] could use public health to affect, on a larger scale, issues such as obesity and environmental policies, which [she is] very passionate about.” Ms. Desamours graduated in Spring 2013.

Suzette Ste-Rose grew up in Haiti, witnessing the ravages of diseases such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, and realizing early on that “public health education saves lives through prevention.” This is what motivated her to become a Public Health Technologist while in the U.S. Air Force and then, enroll for a Master’s in Public Health, with a specialization in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP). Ms. Ste-Rose explained her career choice as follows: “Working in the public health field feels right to me; like I was born to do this, as if I have found my place in this big world. I get excited just thinking about it. I am meant to be a Public Health professional.” Ms. Ste-Rose will graduate in Spring 2014.

For Fall 2013, the Stempel Scholarship was awarded to Leah Davis Ewart who grew up on picket lines. Daughter of an African American mother and a white father, Ms. Ewart has seen her fair share of strikes, rallies and protests. Her experience has taught her the importance of working for change within the community, of being politically active and having respect for people and the environment. Ms. Ewart greatly enjoys school, and believes that her background in history and sociology prepares her well for a career in Public Health as they intersect to create a source of knowledge that fundamentally shapes her values and views. History provided her with the insight into cultures, religions and politics and helped her to understand the country in its present state. Sociology has given her the theories and tools to understand social interdependence and evaluate social inequality. Ms. Ewart believes that understanding these aspects will allow her to look closely to each community and develop public health policies that will help to benefit the communities in their unique surroundings. The Stempel Scholarship will be vital in completing her desire to complete her MPH degree. In Ms. Ewart’s words, “the degree program will give me the tools to identify public health issues and develop programs necessary to address the needs of the (our) community while simultaneously allowing me the chance to specialize in the areas that I am most concerned with.”


Other Scholarships

Jennifer Attonito (January 2013) and Georgina Silva-Suarez (June 2013), two students in the Department of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, were awarded a 2013-2014 Dissertation Year Fellowship (DYF). Attonito’s work focuses on the influence of neurocognitive impairment and other psychosocial factors on treatment adherence before and after an Information-Motivation-Behavioral Skills Model-driven intervention among HIV-positive alcohol abusers. Silva-Suarez’s dissertation is entitled “Life Experiences of Youth who were Born with HIV in Puerto Rico: The Voices of Young Survivors.” Elena Cyrus-Cameron, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Epidemiology, has also been awarded a DYF for Summer 2013. Her dissertation is entitled “The Role of Substance Use in the Relationship between Social Capital and HIV Risk Behavior among Recent Latino Immigrants in South Florida.” Dissertation Year Fellowships (DYFs) provide support to highly-qualified FIU doctoral students during the data analysis and writing phase of their dissertation. It is intended to facilitate the timely completion of high-quality manuscripts and dissertations. Students who are conducting outstanding research in their discipline and have established a notable record of publication during their doctoral studies (in comparison to others in their discipline) are favored in the application process. Dissertation Fellows are expected to graduate within 1 year after receiving the award.

Julie Grochowski, a student in the School of Social Work, was selected for a 2013-2014 Doctoral Evidence Acquisition (DEA) Fellowship which is specifically intended to help doctoral students who have no financial support for evidence acquisition activities or students whose current means of financial support would significantly interfere with or preclude their ability to collect the evidence needed for their doctoral research. Grochowski’s dissertation focuses on “Predictors of Independent Living Outcomes Among Older Women Receiving Informal Care.”

Karen Fortuna has recently been selected for the 4th cohort of the Association for Gerontology Education in Social Work (AGE SW) Gerontological Social Work Pre-Dissertation Initiative. The AGESW was founded in 1981 to promote research and teaching aging in the field of social work and has become the premier organization for social work educators interested in gerontology, as well as the official sponsor of the Journal of Gerontological Social Work. This competitive award provides a number of benefits, including attendance at the Gerontological Society of America conference in November 2013.

Nadine Mikati, a first year Ph.D. student in the Department of Dietetics & Nutrition was awarded $1,000.00 towards her research by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a national organization for that profession.

 Joel Exebio, a doctoral student in the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition was recently selected to receive a MBRS RISE scholarship, which will provide Exebio with stipend, tuition, and research support. The MBRS RISE program at FIU is sponsored by a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant. The goal of the RISE program is to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups in biomedical and behavioral research who enter and successfully complete Ph.D. programs in these fields. Exebio is currently taking his candidacy examinations and will be admitted to candidacy by Fall 2013.

Author: Cecile Houry

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