School of Nursing Doctoral Student Selected as Fulbright Scholar

June 29, 2012

Orlando O. Harris, M.S., A.P.R.N., F.N.P.

School of Nursing doctoral student Orlando O. Harris, M.S., A.P.R.N., F.N.P., was recently selected to receive a United States Fulbright award to support his dissertation research in Kingston, Jamaica. He will leave for Jamaica at the end of December to lead a 10-month project in which he will study the HIV prevention needs, and the social and cultural determinants of HIV risk, among young Jamaican men who have sex with men. This is the first time a School of Nursing Ph.D. student has earned a Fulbright award.

Harris, who was born in Jamaica and raised in New York City, currently lives in Rochester, and is employed as a nurse practitioner with the Monroe County Health Department’s Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinic and as a senior trainer with the Center for Health and Behavioral Training at the University of Rochester. He is also a senior teaching associate with the School of Nursing, where he is working toward his Ph.D. in Health Practice Research. Harris is a 2010 graduate of the School of Nursing’s family nurse practitioner program, and holds a B.S. in nursing, a B.S. in education and human development, and a B.A. in Africana studies, all from Binghamton University.

In Jamaica, he will be affiliated with the Institute for Gender and Developmental Studies at the University of the West Indies Mona Campus and will be supervised and supported by Leith Lorraine Dunn, Ph.D.,  a senior lecturer and department chair, who has research expertise in the areas of gender-based violence, sexuality, and HIV/AIDS.

“There is very limited research about the HIV-prevention needs of young Jamaican men who have sex with men,” said Harris, who plans to focus on factors including interpersonal (family friends, and social networks), organizational (governmental and social institutions), community and public policy (local laws), that influence HIV risk and prevention. He also plans to conduct individual interviews to better understand how young men navigate the factors that place them at risk for HIV.

“The Fulbright fellowship is especially meaningful to me because it allows me to gather this information by immersing myself in the culture and society of Jamaica, and to build on my public health expertise to formulate a multi-faceted insider perspective,” he said. “My hope is that this will provide critical information to stakeholders within Jamaican society to aid in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and that it also may have a far-reaching impact on public health, prevention, and linkage to care for these same populations living in the United States.”

Established in 1946, the Fulbright Program is the flagship international exchange scholarship program between the U.S. and 155 countries, and is supported by the U.S. Congress and partner governments. The program awards about 8,000 grants annually to U.S. students wishing to study, teach, and conduct research abroad and to non-U.S. citizens wishing to do the same in the U.S.

The application process is lengthy, rigorous, and competitive, with eligibility criteria varying by program and country. Harris submitted his application last October and was notified that he had made it through the first round of cuts in January. He is one of only a handful of students to receive grants to conduct research in the Caribbean region.

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