Howell Foundation Announces the 2021 USD-Cheryl Wilson Awards in Nursing

Howell Foundation Announces the 2021 USD-Cheryl Wilson Awards in Nursing

  • Partner Violence in the Latino Community and Meditation for Post-Partum Depression as the 2021 fields of research.
  • Howell Foundation’s Research Awards inspire and fund undergraduate and post graduate research as an essential component in accelerating women’s health.

The Howell Foundation congratulates USD-Cheryl Wilson Awards in Nursing, Lorena Perez and Ritamarie Smedile. Lorena will be analyzing the effects of partner violence in Latina community during COVID, while Ritamarie will address new mitigation techniques to manage post-partum depression via Mantram Repetition.

Our mission is to create a long-lasting impact in women’s health. Our work stems from women’s underrepresentation or exclusion in scientific research. This in turn, has the potential to have adverse health consequences for women, their health, and the health of their family. One way to ensure the inclusion of women is by creating a program that funds scientific research, and inspires undergraduate and graduate students to pursue the next scientific breakthrough in women’s health.

As a recognition to long time serving Board Member and Past President Cheryl Wilson, the Doctoral Candidate award is unique in that the recipients typically approach women’s health research from a current, public health perspective, thus ensuring the highest quality of care. In addition, their research highlights current health care needs for women in our community as they serve in various capacities professionally. Because of the nature of the Research Award, our awardees are able to instantly implement the findings of their research and create an immediate impact to women in our community.

Congratulations to the 2021 Awardees!

Lorena Perez
Mentor: Cynthia Connelly
Latinas Lived Experience of Intimate Partner Violence Amidst the COVID‐19 Global Pandemic

The purpose of this study is to gain a deeper understanding of the lived experience of Latinas experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) during the COVID‐19 global pandemic. The 2020 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey indicate 34.4% of Latinas have experienced IPV. This data is especially concerning during the COVID‐19 pandemic; stay‐at‐ home orders, job loss, financial hardship, and isolation may have resulted in more frequent and worsening episodes of IVP. It is essential to understand the Latina experience to identify targeted interventions to improve access to maintaining a safe home environment during government‐ issued stay‐at‐home orders and eliminating perceived barriers to accessing medical care.


Ritamarie Smedile
Mentor: Mary Berger
Mantram Repetition for Postpartum Women

The transition into motherhood is a complex phenomenon for a woman, whether it is for the first time with a new baby or adjusting to a new dynamic as her family grows. For some women, the feelings of being weepy, anxious, irritable, and overwhelmed do not fade away over time and can begin to intensify and can be deemed as Postpartum Depression (PPD). PPD has negative effects on maternal health and well‐being as well as her ability to interact with her newborn, in addition to showing long‐term consequences on the physical, social and behavioral development of the child. This study will evaluate the feasibility of an intervention, the Mantram Repetition Program, in decreasing depression risk and improving an overall sense of maternal wellbeing among postpartum women.

Ritamarie has an extensive nursing career, currently serving as Labor and Delivery Nurse at Scripps.


The Doris A. Howell Foundation for Women’s Health Research accelerates research solutions for the benefit or women’s health.

By offering first hand knowledge to cutting-edge research, inspiring careers and funding research for the next scientific breakthrough in women’s health and partnering with community researchers to conduct research that benefits underserved community, the Howell Foundation strives to make a long-term positive impact on women’s health for the sake of women, their families and the communities in which they live.

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