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Q&A: Catching Up with the McNair-Center for Healthy Minds Scholars
May 12, 2023

We recently caught up with scholars Augusta Ike and Godwill Oke, who participated in the McNair-Center for Healthy Minds Scholars Program.

In partnership with the University of Wisconsin Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement, the McNair-CHM initiative provides underrepresented undergraduate students with research opportunities.

Read on to hear more about their experiences in and out of the program.

Q&A with Augusta Ike

​​Describe the research you are currently doing as a McNair-CHM scholar?
project aims to investigate a mindfulness-based stress reduction intervention for Blk mental health practitioners to reduce secondary trauma and compassion fatigue while also enhancing their well-being. Findings from this project have the potential to enhance mental health providers' knowledge of culturally accessible interventions to support the overall well-being of themselves and Black people.

I collaboratively worked with my principal investigator Dr. Daniel Grupe to design this experiment to advance health equity in behavioral health through culturally responsive approaches in Black mental health providers.

Describe the research you want to do as a PhD student.

In graduate school, I plan to use a mixed methods research design to explore how African immigrant parents navigate well-being for themselves while retaining cultural practices and knowledge for their children in the United States. Through this exploration, I aim to explore how mental health shifts across time, space, context, and access to resources. My goal as a researcher is to highlight existing coping mechanisms, including non-western therapeutic modalities and medicine, while also destigmatizing therapy amongst African families in the United States.

What are you enjoying most about your current journey as a McNair CHM scholar?

What I am enjoying the most about my journey as a McNair CHM scholar is the mentorship and support. Having co-mentorship from Dr. Abercrombie and Dr. Grupe has filled me with a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience surrounding research and preparing for the graduate school application process.

Support and guidance from my PA’s Khrysta and CJ restored confidence in my capabilities to explore research and graduate programs. Lastly, learning about what other undergraduate researchers are working on has also been insightful, informative, and provided community building. Without this opportunity my research experience would not be where it is now.

Q&A with Godwill Oke

What are you doing now that you have graduated from UWMadison?

After graduating I moved to Chicago and got a job working as a Lab Manager at a Social-Emotional Learning lab at the University of Illinois-Chicago. I’m also interviewing for graduate programs to enroll in the fall of 2024.

Do you see any links between your experience as a McNair-CHM and the work you are currently doing?

My research mentor/supervisor Dr. Matthew Hirshberg was the person who directly connected me to the Lab I’m currently working at and Khrysta and the rest of the McNair staff helped me extensively draft my graduate school application materials.

What are you enjoying most about your current journey?

I’m currently taking a gap year, so I’ve really appreciated being able to choose my next steps from a new perspective.

Special thanks to Khrysta Evans, who is a PhD student, graduate assistant and McNair Scholars support staff. For more information about the program, go to the McNair Scholars Program website.