uc irvine school of nursing phd student decade representative and fellow alexandria jones-patten wants to educate others about keeping their hearts healthy

Nursing PhD student and fellow Alexandria Jones-Patten.

PhD student Alexandria Jones-Patten has been named the first fellow of the UCI Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing.

The fellowship is the result of a recent gift from UCI philanthropist Stanley Behrens, which established the UCI Behrens Nursing Endowment Fund.

Jones-Patten says the gift comes at a critical time in her research: She is busy preparing her dissertation and gathering data on her mixed-method study of the effects of perceived discrimination on the desire to quit cigarette smoking in African American adults on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. 

“I’m actively collecting data for my dissertation now, and it’s quite time-consuming. This award definitely takes some financial stress off,” she says. “I am so incredibly humbled.”

Reaching underserved communities

Jones-Patten’s passion is heart health in underserved communities, where access to primary care and health education are lacking. 

She wants individuals in those communities to understand the link between their behaviors and their physical and emotional well-being so they can live longer, healthier lives.

“We have a number of underserved communities where people are not getting the treatment they need. More specifically, there is a great need to educate people about cardiovascular diseases and their association with modifiable behaviors, like cigarette smoking.”

Devoting her career to minority populations

When she has her PhD in hand later this year, Jones-Patten wants to continue to reach those who need information about their health the most. 

Her work will help fill an important gap in existing research, which historically has focused on Caucasian populations.

“I want to work for a team that’s working to increase health equity among minority populations, to be a nurse scientist, to be that expert in cardiovascular disease risk and management in minority populations.”

‘We are so essential’

Jones-Patten is happy that Behrens recognizes the need to have more nurses in leadership and research roles.

“Nurses are taking care of patients at the bedside, we’re also leaders in hospital administration, and in science. We take care of patients in their homes, in both outpatient and community clinics,” she says. 

“We are so essential to the continued development of healthcare and how we take care of the public. I am excited that Mr. Behrens sees and understands that.”

It has been a year of accolades for Jones-Patten, who was honored as an Outstanding DECADE Representative for her work with diverse students in the Diverse Educational Community & Doctoral Experience program.

She is grateful to all of the mentors and supporters who have stood behind her while she pursues her doctoral degree.

“I have a village behind me that wants me to succeed. They’re going to be there to make sure I have the tools to be successful.”

For more information, to support a future nurse or nurse-led research, please connect to Juliana Goswick, Director of Development at jgoswick@hs.uci.edu or visit Giving.