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Kyra (Waligora) Mendez, PhD, MPH

Kyra (Waligora) Mendez

Congratulations to Florida Atlantic University Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing alumna
Kyra (Waligora) Mendez, BSN ’14, who received both a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree (May ‘22) and a Ph.D. in Nursing (May ‘21) from Johns Hopkins University. As a Ph.D. candidate at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, Mendez collaborated on a variety of research studies, mostly focused on improving the health and well-being of persons living with chronic health conditions and family caregivers of persons with dementia.

Mendez credits her early interest in research to her mentor in the College, Dr. Ruth Tappen, who encouraged her to apply for an FAU undergraduate research grant and participate in FAU’s annual Office of Undergraduate Research and Inquiry Symposium. She worked with Dr. Tappen on her undergraduate research project to study Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers in conjunction with the Louis and Anne Green Memory and Wellness Center. “FAU gave me the opportunities to become proficient in clinical skills and how to practice caring science as a nurse,” Mendez said. “It also provided me with a research background which allowed me to competitively apply to higher education programs and pursue research at the graduate level.”

In addition to providing a foundation for her research background, Mendez also expressed how much the College’s teaching philosophy impacted the way she practices nursing. “I really loved the BSN program because it prepared me to be clinically proficient and to ground my nursing practice in caring,” she explained. “They taught from a deeply grounded philosophy of caring – it’s a beautiful way to practice with compassion and empathy.”

Mendez is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the National Cancer Institute. “I’m looking forward to giving back and being able to train and mentor the next generation of nurses and researchers,” she said. Mendez also expressed that current FAU Nursing students should take advantage of the opportunities at FAU, and get involved in extra-curricular activities outside of class or participate in research projects. “Pursue your dreams! You can do anything you put your mind to. Hard work and perseverance pays off, though you will encounter
obstacles and challenges,” she said. “It requires a level of resiliency and support. Surround yourself with people who support you,
love you and inspire you.”