PHOTO: Shanae Rhodes

Shanae Rhodes

Shanae Rhodes, BSN, RN is grateful to have been selected as the recipient of a Nurses Educational Funds (NEF) Scholarship. Shanae received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio) in 2016. Her desire to become a nurse was ignited by both personal experiences with health inequities and, conversely, an experience with a nurse who provided exceptional postmortem care to her grandmother.

In her career as a registered nurse, Shanae’s passion for health equity intensified. She noticed that limited access to health information and affordable health care, lack of consideration for cultural and gender differences, and lack of quality care continue to contribute to distrust, high rates of comorbidities, and increased mortality for marginalized groups. For these reasons, she returned to UT Health San Antonio in 2018 to pursue her graduate degree to generate research evidence that contributes toward health equity. She is currently a 5th year PhD candidate.

While in the program, Shanae has been involved in multiple projects. She has collaborated with urban and rural community leaders on multiple community-engaged projects. In June 2020, she founded My Sister’s Keeper (MSK) - a virtual community focused on promoting better health in women of color. MSK continues to offer free monthly sessions on health-related topics that are selected by the participants and has received grant funding for two research projects, including a community needs assessment for African American/Black women in Texas communities. Also, Shanae received her certification as a Community Health Worker.

In continuing to focus on marginalized populations, her dissertation will examine the experiences of Black women who are caring for loved ones with dementia. In her studies, Shanae learned that women of color encounter a disproportionately high degree of social, economic, and health disparities and are one of the largest populations of family caregivers. The combination of caregiving strains (e.g. high costs, burden) and social injustice contribute to the onset or exacerbation of poor health outcomes. There remains insufficient evidence to support policy change that will provide equitable social and health services, which are needed to improve caregiver health and disease prevention in women of color. In her dissertation research, Shanae is working collaboratively with a team of women who are caregivers of persons living with dementia to help in supporting the creation of healthier, more equitable communities.

Obtaining a PhD in Nursing Science will allow Shanae to continue to cultivate meaningful partnerships with communities and conduct rigorous, culturally-relevant research studies that will shed light on the unique experiences of marginalized populations. She is devoted to a career in research and community service that centers on advocating for health equity for underserved and marginalized communities.

Shanae believes that the greatest gift is charity, and that there are no words to express the feeling she gets when someone chooses to invest in her dreams and goals. Receiving a NEF scholarship provides the support and inspiration for Shanae to continue her work toward health equity.

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