Christina Ross PhD, RN, is an Assistant Professor in the UConn School of Nursing. Her main research interests focus on the promotion of sexual and reproductive health among vulnerable youth, specifically African-American girls in foster care.“The adolescent population keeps you engaged, working on your toes, I love working with young people,” says Ross. Her passion for nursing stems from the “love and appreciation” she developed for the nurses who took excellent care of her after she immigrated to the United States.
While completing her bachelor’s degree in nursing at the University of Saint Joseph, Ross received a grant through the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame to complete a community engagement project in Hartford. The health promotion project included a series of workshops on diabetes and hypertension. Upon completion, her innovative skills were recognized by the President of Saint Joseph. This led to her pursuit of a PhD at the University of Virginia where she completed her dissertation: “African American Female Adolescents’ Perspectives Regarding Their Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs While in Foster Care: A Qualitative Descriptive Study.” Ross’ interest in women’s health promotion and her observation of health disparities among African-American youth made her want to work toward change. “I noticed high rates of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections among African-American youth in foster care. Health disparities are important to me, and I really want to change the narrative about African-American youth in foster care, so they can be seen in a more positive light.”
Ross is currently working on a continuation project of her doctoral research to promote “Sexual and Reproductive Health Communication Between Female African American Adolescents in Foster Care and Their Foster Parents.” The project’s aim is to close the existing communication and resource gap between foster youth and caregivers regarding sexuality education. It will foster positive environments for learning and support about sexually transmitted infections, unintended pregnancy prevention, and female empowerment. The project is pending IRB approval and involves organizations that work with youth in foster care.
Involvement with CSCH
Ross joined CSCH after hearing about the opportunities to connect with colleagues from other disciplines. Her research centers around access to foster youth, which is easier to achieve in the school setting. Ross realized that the Collaboratory’s focus on the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model aligned perfectly with her work. “I love the WSCC model, especially the health and education components, because of its contribution to the success of the child.”
Ross was born in Guyana and lived in Antigua before immigrating to the United States. She loves to travel and enjoys the beach. When she takes breaks from research, her favorite thing to do is sit on a plane staring into the clouds. “Going to a new destination and exploring new cultures is very therapeutic for me. It gives me new perspectives and passions.”
Undergraduate Researcher Angel Ojide interviewed Dr. Ross and wrote this profile.