Thursday, July 20, 2017

Highlight on Dr. Ann Becket, Ph.D., R.N.

by Jaime Bogdash

Dr. Ann Becket, circa 1990 (School of Nursing Archives)
We recently shared a new oral history about School of Nursing faculty member Ann Beckett, Ph.D., R.N. In case you haven’t been able to read this interesting oral history interview, I thought I would highlight some of her achievements and her impressive work and academic history.

Dr. Beckett started in public health nursing in the Maryland and Washington, D.C. areas. Although she was one of only a few minorities at her university at the time, she found a large cultural community within Howard University and the greater D.C. area. She entered into academic teaching serendipitously when a member of her church, who was a faculty member at Howard University called to ask for teacher recommendations for their new baccalaureate program. While working as faculty at Howard University, Beckett began her Master’s degree at Catholic University. She was also a parent to one child and pregnant with her second while teaching and working on her Master's. Although she fell into academia almost by accident, she worked at Howard University for a total of twenty-one years.

In Dr. Beckett’s oral history interview, she talks about her experience with diversity in her student population. As she explains:
“I learned a lot. I had a lot of experience. I met a lot of students. We had international students there. And so I think my experience was really broadened culturally. We had students from Africa. We had some Asian students. Hispanic students, not a whole lot. Our largest, probably, group, international group, was African students from Nigeria, Kenya, and some of the other countries. So I did, I was exposed to different, you know, the cultural differences. And was made more aware of that. Because working at Howard University, as people know, I mean, it’s predominantly an African American school. So I found that very interesting, that I had that opportunity.”
Dr. Beckett really embraced diversity in teaching and socially so her move to OHSU was a bit of an adjustment. When she came to OHSU, she began teaching in the Department of Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing. At the time she “was probably ... the only African American in the group. But after a while, that didn’t seem to be such a big issue. I believe there was one other faculty member that had been here for a very long time that was African American. And she, I was introduced to her and she was sort of helping me, you know, sort of navigate the campus and find things I needed to know and meet the people that I needed to meet.”

Beckett decided to pursue her doctorate two years into her teaching position at OHSU. Although she was content with her work, she decided to pursue an advanced degree simply as a personal goal. She continued to focus on diversity and found a need in African American psychiatric health. She focused her graduate and doctoral thesis work on the mental health of African American adolescents, specifically those who had been affected by homicide and drug related crime. Her dissertation, Surviving an Adolescent Violence Trajectory: An African American Perspective, can be found online in OHSU's Scholar Archive. In her thesis, she was able to work with African American adolescents who had witnessed homicide and their trauma around their experiences. Dr. Beckett talks about her experience doing this important qualitative study and the trauma and stress she felt through conducting it.

Dr. Beckett also discusses her committee work and the amazing work she has done at OHSU in the nursing department and to better develop the teaching curriculum and practicums of the students in the nursing department. You can read more about Dr. Beckett’s impressive work and career by examining her oral history online.

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