University of Arkansas doctoral student Nicole Doyle is passionate about statistics and measurement, but sometimes she’s concerned about what the numbers reveal.
Nicole and fellow researchers in the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation have studied the misuse of prescription opioids, self-stigma, mental health and other issues of concern among college students.
“The statistics are abysmal when it comes to suicide rates in this group, and I’m certain most of us know how crucial mental health is and how many of the issues surrounding it have become a public health crisis,” she said.
Nicole, who’s working toward a Ph.D. in Health Behavior and Health Promotion, wants to help mitigate the issues her stats uncover. Promoting awareness of student mental health gives her a sense of purpose.
“The first step is minimizing the negative stigma surrounding mental health, and that starts with a conversation,” she said.
In the spring semester, Nicole studied self-harm and emotional intelligence with the help of her advisor. She had hoped to present her findings this fall semester at the American Public Health Association’s conference in San Francisco, but instead she’ll be attending virtually due to the pandemic.
Nicole said she’s grateful to work with U of A faculty who believe in her and push her to be better academically and professionally. That’s how she discovered statistics wasn’t scary. She’s now aiming for a graduate certification in Educational Statistics and Research Methods.
“I find myself soaking up what I’m learning in my classes, and it’s incredibly helpful when applying it to my research,” she said. “It’s like a hidden language that I am now privy to.”
“My dream job is to work for SAS, a statistical software company, either here or abroad,” she said. “In the immediate future, I want to continue to publish and to investigate the troubling mental health issues of students. I love teaching and researching, my advisor is awesome, and my students have led me to strive to be a better instructor.”
Nicole moved to Fayetteville in 2014 after finishing her first master’s degree at the University of Central Oklahoma. She worked as a health coach for a local company for a few years, always knowing she would begin a Ph.D. at some point.
“The timing was right, and I was able to make connections to begin my program in summer of 2018,” she said. “At the U of A I feel supported, my voice is heard, and I feel validated. Learning here is diverse, fun, and constantly challenging.”
Nicole, newly married, is immersed. She served last year as vice president of the Graduate Professional Student Congress, which is dedicated to creating a better environment for graduate students. She has also worked with Dr. Paul Calleja in HHPR on a podcast called “Lightning Between the Bookends”. It’s an informative and fun podcast related to all things graduate school.
She’s also served as a student ambassador in HHPR.
“I am grateful to have been nominated for the position. I enjoy being involved and ‘in the know’ with the happenings of the department. It feels great to be able to be there for my fellow students in a variety of ways,” she said.
Are you curious about a doctorate in Health Behavior and Health Promotion now? Visit the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation to find out more.