Sa’Nealdra Wiggins fell in love with the field of women’s health during an undergraduate internship. Now a fourth-year doctoral student in nutrition expected to graduate in May 2021, Wiggins is one of five doctoral students recently honored as Tennessee Doctoral Fellows.
A leading award for graduate students, the scholarships are funded by the Tennessee Commission on Higher Education and the Graduate School at UT. Tennessee doctoral students are chosen every three years; this is only the second group of fellows at UT.
Recipients are chosen from nominations from campus departments. Their three-year scholarships consist of a $ 20,000 scholarship, a 25% assistantship in their home department, a tuition waiver, and an educational allowance of $ 2,500 for conference travel or other expenses. academic. In addition, fellows take advantage of networking and professional development opportunities and are matched with a faculty mentor.
Wiggins was born in Frankfurt, Germany, and raised in Clarksville, Tennessee. Her first name, Sa’Nealdra, is a combination of the names of her parents, Sandra and O’Neal. She holds a bachelor’s degree in public health from Middle Tennessee State University.
She arrived at UT in 2013. While taking undergraduate nutrition courses to enroll in the master’s program, she began working with Sarah Colby, associate professor of nutrition, in the research lab. food and activity for community health.
âI was quickly captivated by the large amount of career opportunities available in nutrition and the opportunities to educate others about health,â she said. âI knew it would be important to get the most out of my studies by gaining as much knowledge as possible. The following year, I enrolled in our masters bypass program and was accepted as a doctoral student.
Wiggins’ research involves implementing a dietary intervention with mothers in the hopes of improving the diets of their teenage daughters. She aspires to become a dietitian and work as a director of government programs. But she is also interested in staying in academia.
Wiggins said UT has been a good place for her.
âUT provided me with the space to continue to learn and develop professionally,â she said. âMy mentor, Dr. Colby, has been central to my growth here at UT. I call her my mom at work because she saw the potential in me before I saw it in me. She continues to broaden my thinking and prepare me for a prosperous future.
Wiggins said the Tennessee Doctoral Fellowship âmeans an opportunity to network and continue to shape me as a future nutrition professional. This gives me the opportunity to pursue my doctoral career without financial constraints. “