Janet Lopez, BSN, RN, sixth-year PhD candidate, speaks about her journey through the PhD program.
A day in the life as a PhD candidate and nurse scientist is challenging. As a first-generation Mexican-American and the first in my family to attend college, the process of integrating myself into an academic culture has not been easy. Many times, I feel as I am walking into situations that feel completely novel and I have a sense of loneliness navigating something so foreign to me.
Despite all the challenges and hardships, my academic life at the University of Florida College of Nursing has allowed me to do new things, break new ground and overcome challenges that once seemed impossible. During my academic journey, I have learned that I am not alone. The social support that is available through my family, friends and members of the UF academic community has been essential to my success.
I decided to pursue my PhD at the UF College of Nursing after my exposure to research as a senior undergraduate nursing student in the college’s honors program. I realized the importance of research and the impact it could have on people’s lives. It was then that I understood I became a nurse not simply because of my desire to care for others, but my wish to pursue a profession where future leaders have the knowledge base to identify gaps in health care and transform the health care system. Today, I am filled with even more passion and motivation to address health disparities and inequities.