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Stephanie Betancur, a doctoral student in nursing, was born in Medellin, Colombia. She is the recipient of a National Institutes of Health-funded T32 Predoctoral Training Grant and is an inpatient registered nurse in the UNC Bone Marrow Transplant unit. She received her bachelor’s degree in nursing with honors from UNC-Chapel Hill and was selected for the UNC Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation.

Stephanie Betancur

What made you choose UNC-Chapel Hill when deciding on a program/place to study?
I chose UNC-Chapel Hill for my doctoral program because of the extraordinary academic environment, the strong mentoring relationships, and the Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation. UNC-Chapel Hill is one of three schools in the nation to offer the Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation, which is a highly competitive program that supports individuals seeking a career as a nurse researcher. The program is designed to accelerate the time of completion of a Ph.D. degree to four years or less.

Tell us about your research.
My dissertation topic will explore the risk of occupational exposure of environmental services (EVS) workers to antineoplastic agents in the inpatient oncology setting. By identifying and understanding the risk of exposure to these agents, we can take the necessary safety precautions and implement strategies to decrease the incidence of exposure among EVS workers.

What does it mean to be a first-generation graduate student in your family?My father left his home country with the sole purpose of providing his children with the opportunity for an education and a better life. His courage to leave behind all that was familiar taught me resilience and encouraged me to work hard and take advantage of every opportunity that came my way. Being a first-generation graduate student means that all the sacrifices made by my father, who raised me and my siblings on his own, have finally paid off.

What are you hoping to accomplish with your Carolina degree?
My long-term career goal is to become a cancer nurse scientist and eliminate cancer health disparities in ethnic minority populations. I plan to complete my Ph.D. program within three years, graduating in 2023. During the last year of the Ph.D. program, I intend to apply for a postdoctoral fellowship focused on eliminating health disparities. I will use my research training to build the substantive and methodological skills necessary to develop, test, and implement interventions to eliminate health disparities in cancer, specifically in the Latinx population.

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