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Dr. Kaleea Lewis

Life As A Post Doc – Dr. Kaleea Lewis

Dr. Kaleea R. Lewis, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Health Sciences and Women’s and Gender Studies and recipient of the Inclusive Excellence Grant from IDE is committed to amplifying the voices of Black students in her researcher on mental health, one voice at a time. Dr. Lewis joined MU as a postdoctoral scholar in fall 2018 and describes her researcher as a blend of “sociological theories of race and racism and a social determinant of health perspective to explore how systems of oppression contribute to adverse health outcomes for Black Americans.”

As a recipient of the Inclusive Excellence Grant, Dr. Lewis describes how Black students on campus will have the unique opportunity for their voices to be heard. “The grant will allow me to center the voices of Black students on campus in an effort to build stronger mental health promotion programs on this campus. By centering the voices of Black students on this campus I hope to begin the groundwork for the creation and implementation of a sustainable mental health promotion program that will support Black students. The health of our students will impact them across the lifecourse and it is time that we confront the intergenerational trauma held captive in Black bodies”, says Lewis.

Dr. Lewis shares that the most rewarding moment of her being a postdoctoral scholar thus far has been cultivating a better understanding of her researcher as a qualitative health scholar. “As a post-doc I have the room to evaluate my strengths and areas of improvement, read additional text focused on qualitative research, and spend time engaging with interdisciplinary literature that examines the interconnectedness of race, racism, and health inequities. The time and flexibility I have to explore and reflect on my research agenda is a privilege that I don’t take lightly,” she shares.

And when asked what advice or words of wisdom she would share with current graduate students, Lewis offers graduate students and post docs the following advice for success:

Trust the Process

Trust the process, trust your mentors, but most importantly trust your intuition. These three factors will never lead you astray and if things don’t go as you envisioned them it simply means that there is a lesson that you need to learn.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up!

You can only prepare so much for the future. Until technological advances allow us to see in the future, don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go as you assume they should. Build a strategic and realistic after graduation plan with trusted mentors and advisors with the understanding that your first job doesn’t have to be your last.