Jacqueline Vo.

Jacqueline Vo is on her way to leading the way in cancer prevention research.

She already holds two degrees from the UAB School of Nursing and just earned an M.P.H. from Harvard University. Now the Springville, Alabama, native is completing a postdoctoral fellowship in cancer prevention research at the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.

The path to her success has been a long one. Vo says she found her direction because she received the Lettie Pate Whitehead Scholarship as an undergraduate at the UAB School of Nursing.

"That scholarship set the foundation for the rest of my career—before I even knew I wanted to pursue research," she recalls. "I was able to choose whatever path I wanted without the hindrance of student loans."

The Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation awards scholarships to deserving Christian female students pursuing health professions at more than 200 universities throughout the southeast. Each year, students from the UAB School of Nursing and the School of Health Professions receive the award.

After Vo finished her bachelor's degree in 2014, she worked as a registered nurse in UAB's Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit. When she decided to pursue her Ph.D., that experience inspired her research. She studied under Karen Meneses, Ph.D., R.N., UAB School of Nursing professor and associate dean for research, who passed away in 2018. "I wanted to combine my experience as a cardiac nurse with Dr. Meneses's breast cancer research," Vo says. "So while pursuing my Ph.D., I studied the cardiovascular effects experienced by breast cancer patients."

And that work led her to where she is today. Now Vo is studying ways to prevent tertiary effects, including cardiovascular disease, among cancer survivors.

Vo's success illustrates the impact the Lettie Pate Whitehead Scholarship has had on hundreds of UAB students, says Linda D. Moneyham, Ph.D., R.N., professor and senior associate dean for academic affairs at the School of Nursing.

"The impact in our students' lives has been profound, for many of these young women would not have been able to attend college had it not been for the generosity of the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation," Moneyham says. "The foundation’s namesake, Mrs. Whitehead, espouses the idea of women taking on significant leadership roles while also demonstrating their deep compassion for others. I can’t think of a better role model for these young women as they complete their nursing education.”

Tracee Synco, assistant dean for student recruitment, engagement, and success for the School of Health Professions, agrees that the scholarship has been invaluable to students. It has helped students remain enrolled for additional semesters, if needed, and lets them focus more on their academic rather than financial demands, she explains.

“Having the Lettie Pate Whitehead Scholarship has allowed students to lessen the stress of worrying about expense and concentrate on their studies,” she says.

Vo says that receiving the scholarship validated her decision to pursue health care. "I knew things were going to be OK—that this is where God wanted me to be. It was one of the best feelings I could ask for."

Sara Bauer

Sara Bauer

Sara Bauer is a senior majoring in nursing from Foley, Alabama, and says the scholarship, which she received in spring 2019, has helped her keep her eye on what's most important—her studies. "I work part time at a restaurant, and I've been able to cut back on how many shifts I have to work. When I graduate, I'll have much less debt. The Lettie Pate Whitehead Scholarship has taken the stress off, and I'm able to focus on my studies and my future."

Priya Patel

Priya Patel

Priya Patel is a senior majoring in health care management who received the scholarship twice—once in spring 2019 and again in summer 2019. The Tuscaloosa, Alabama, native says she plans to apply to the UAB School of Health Professions’ occupational therapy program. "Not only has the scholarship helped me financially, but it has provided me with wonderful connections for the future—from the scholarship board members to the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation members."

Layne Wood

Layne Wood

Layne Wood is a student in UAB's occupational therapy program—and the Sylacauga, Alabama, native received the Lettie Pate Whitehead Scholarship in summer 2018 to pursue that goal. "I have known I wanted to be an occupational therapist since I was in the fifth grade, and I knew that to go to college, I would have to take out loans and apply for as many scholarships as possible. I come from a family of five kids, and this has definitely eased the financial burden for my family and myself."


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