Towanda Pettway is a junior from Bridgeport, Connecticut studying Psychology and Sociology.
Although she did not initially plan on conducting research during her undergraduate career, Towanda visited the Emerging Scholars website and after seeing the potential to go above and beyond classroom learning changed her perspective. With the aid of the Emerging Scholars Program and Dr. Bronwen Lichtenstein (her faculty mentor), she did exactly that through her research on resistance to tuberculosis testing in Perry County, Alabama.
In the spring of 2016, Towanda conducted surveys and interviews trying to determine why the residents of Perry County refused TB testing from health officials. The data she collected revealed that the residents opposed TB testing because of mistrust in the health officials, fear of being reported to law enforcement, and misconceptions about the source of TB transmission. She presented these findings at URCA and placed first in the Arts & Sciences oral division. Towanda still feels honored that her research had such a positive influence on the judges.
While she is not currently doing research, she is composing a paper surrounding her findings in Perry County and conducting background research on how health care cutbacks may have led to her study’s results. Towanda hopes that this paper will enlighten her audience on the poor health conditions in the county.
Towanda has this advice for other students interested in research, “Go for it. I was just a regular student – I didn’t have the best of grades – but when I pulled my GPA up, started doing research, and found something that I love at UA, I feel like I found my place here. Don’t be afraid to explore and try new things, especially when it comes to your education.”
After graduation, Towanda hopes to continue her education at The University by pursuing a Masters degree in clinical psychology.