Thomas-Meadows Family Scholarship for Nursing
Scholarship honors public health expertís commitment to nursing
Phyllis D. Meadows, Ph.D., a College of Nursing alumna and current associate dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan, has a lot to be proud of. Yet when asked what career accomplishment she takes the most pride in, she says, "I don't know that I have done it yet. I hope that my best professional accomplishment is yet to come."
Meadows grew up in Detroit, Michigan, and earned her bachelor's degree from Oakland University. When it came time to choose a school for a master's degree, she says that she had a lot of choices, but Wayne State was the best school and the best option for her. "I thought, that's where I'm going," she says.
Looking back on her time at the college, Meadows says that the people stand out in her memory. She had wonderful professors who made the material interesting and gave it real world context. She discovered an interest in public health and epidemiology and appreciated the honest, straightforward approach of her teachers. "There was a time when I had to write a paper, but I hadn't written a paper in a long time," she says. "One of my professors told me to give it a shot, and that she would give me honest feedback. She did, and through that process I learned and got to a place where I didn't need help writing anymore."
Meadows also studied under Bernice Morton, who was one of only a few African American professors in the program at the time. "She was encouraging and made it seem doable," Meadows says. "And her academic background was in community health so she understood the material and could bring it to life."
After earning her master's degree, Meadows began working full time, but harbored an interest in continuing her education. "I loved my job, and I didn't want to leave it," she says. So Meadows turned her attention back to Wayne State, which she felt was receptive to working adults, and began pursuing a Ph.D. in sociology. "Sociology made sense to me because in my career at the time, the health issues that I saw were not biological but more social instead." Working toward her doctorate, Meadows studied with Dr. Leon Wilson, who she describes as a phenomenal instructor. "He provided both personal and professional guidance throughout the program," she says.
In 1998, Meadows received her Ph.D. and has had an impressive career. In addition to her current role at the University of Michigan, she has worked in academia, lecturing at Wayne State, Oakland University and Marygrove College. She was deputy director, then director and public health officer at the Detroit Department of Health and Wellness Promotion. She has been a Kellogg International Leadership fellow, and later joined the W.K. Kellogg Foundation as a program director. She also served as the director of nursing for The Medical Team - Michigan. She is now an associate dean for Public Health Practice at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and has an appointment as a senior fellow in health for the Kresge Foundation.
Meadows describes one of her primary roles at the University of Michigan as working to bridge education, research, and, service, and to connect students and faculty with public health practitioners in the field. "We want to provide real life experiences for students and prepare them for the field of public health," she says. She also works hard to ensure that public health research is translated into meaningful practice in the field. "We're creating regional studies, to identify commonalities that exist across six regions in the state of Michigan," she says. "When we are done, we will be able to have more clarity about the research interests of local public health, their training needs and strengths, workforce issues, and areas for health interventions within the communities they serve. Our goal is to foster an exchange of ideas and resources between the university and the local public health agencies."
Throughout her career, Meadows has remained true to her love of nursing. "Nursing is a wonderful and generous necessity. It is a gift of both science and caring for the world," she says. In recognition of this commitment to nursing, she established the Thomas-Meadows Family Scholarship for Nursing at Wayne State University. The scholarship supports undergraduate nursing students from Detroit, with a preference for first generation college students, contributing to their ability to remain in school and work toward their degree. More than anything, Meadows says she hopes to help students have the kind of experience that she had at Wayne State. "The entirety of the College of Nursing experience," she says, "was always challenging and always interesting."
To make a gift to the Thomas-Meadows Family Scholarship for Nursing, contact Tracy Utech, Director of Philanthropy in the College of Nursing, at (313) 577-6967 or email@example.com.
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