Alumni Profile – Quantrilla Ard, Ph.D candidate

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Quantrilla is a proud Oakwood alum.  She currently resides in Maryland with her husband and two young sons.  Her desire is to integrate science and practice through evidence-based, behavioral interventions designed to influence positive social change.

HealthOU:  Hi Quantrilla, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed.  Can you tell us a little bit about your educational / professional pursuits after graduating from Oakwood?

QA: I graduated from Oakwood in 2002, and wasn’t 100% sure what my next steps were honestly.  I took some involuntary time off after graduation, but started on my Master’s Degree in public health in the fall of 2004.  I knew I had found the right direction, and was eager to begin my career.  I began doing data collection in the field, and eventually found myself as a one of two project managers of a multi-million dollar grant to test a support program for recovering substance abusers.  My favorite position by far was my time as a Senior Analyst on the clinical operations team for Cardinal Health – Medmined Services

HealthOU: What were your academic goals and aspirations upon starting college?

QA: As far-fetched as it may sound, my aspirations were to find a cure to sarcoidosis. My mother passed of complications due to this disease, and I was determined to be the individual that found the cure.  My academic goals were simple…get in, do well, get out.  I probably should have taken a more proactive approach, but I was very naive about my responsibilities in pursuing my education at Oakwood, and that is one of my biggest regrets.

HealthOU: Did those goals change at all?  How so?  What were some of the factors that led to those changes?

QA: The academic goal changed in my junior year.  I was beginning to get frustrated (I had to take organic chem a few times) and I felt a little lost in the weeds.  I think that I felt stranded in my major because I knew I didn’t want to be a doctor, but I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to be either. 

HealthOU: Were there any mentors or advisors or resources/websites that were helpful as you explored different career options?

QA: The most valuable resource I had was my advisor (and mentor at the time) Dr. Schmidt.  It was a quirky relationship, but it changed my outlook on my academic prowess. I was renewed by her faith in my ability to not only do well, but also excel in my course of study.  Needless to say, my last semester was my best.  Dr. Schmidt didn’t suggest and different career options, but encouraged me to search and find what would fit with my personality.  Obviously, sitting in a lab all day was not the right track for me.  The CDC website was extremely helpful in helping me find health-related career options.

HealthOU: You are currently completing your dissertation for your PhD in Health Psychology.  Can you tell us a little bit more about it and what sparked your interest in this particular field?

QA: Sure.  Health psychology is the study of how behavior influences or promotes/detracts from health and the factors that are either directly or indirectly related to their intersection.  I became interested in health psychology after speaking to a fellow Oakwood alum about my desire to integrate the study of health behavior on health status and outcomes.  She suggested I look into this field, and I was hooked immediately.  It sounded like what I had been trying to define for people for years.  I knew immediately that this was for me.  I had always known I would eventually go back for a doctoral degree, and this discussion (along with some other personal decisions) made my choice easy to make.

HealthOU:  Did you work in the field of Health Promotion prior to starting your doctoral degree?  If so, what did you job entail?

QA: I worked on a substance abuse (prescription medication in particular) grant and was excited to see what I had learned in the classroom translate into the workforce.  Also as the Senior Analyst, we specifically rallied for the prevention of hospital-acquired infections through healthcare technology an education. Its rewards were immediately felt and seen with the clients.

HealthOU: A large part of the reason students pursue healthcare is because they have a desire to help people.  How do you feel that your current position allows you the opportunity to fulfill this desire or have a positive impact on the lives of others?

QA:That is definitely my goal.  To help people and allow them to realize their potential in the maintenance and prevention of illness is life-changing.

HealthOU: After completing your PhD. what’s next for you?

QA: I actually have several desires.  I would like to teach and conduct qualitative research to fill in the gaps of literature that doesn’t allow people to currently have a voice.

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