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PhD Student Uses Communication Skills for Public Good

Tambra Raye Stevenson and daughter
Tambra Raye Stevenson and her daughter, Ruby Rose.

American University School of Communication second year PhD student and public health nutritionist Tambra Raye Stevenson, MPH, uses her communication skills for good. Since the Covid-19 shutdown began, she has transitioned her work online while also juggling her school-aged children’s virtual education. Over the summer, she produced and created "Cooking with Soul," a six-part online video series for the US Botanic Garden to help home cooks to prepare plant-forward meals. Her work has been featured on NBC 4 Washington and she was included in a list of changemakers in the DC food system in Washington City Paper.

With support from the DC Department of Health Care Finance and Sibley Memorial Hospital, she also launched the virtual WANDA Academy for women, which helps build community, improve healthy food access, and provide free nutrition classes for residents of Washington, DC’s Wards seven and eight. As part of the academy, the women recreated healthy family recipes and shared their food stories of resiliency and reclamation. In addition, the women participated in tours of local black women-owned farms to pick their own produce.

Her professional work dovetails perfectly with her doctoral research. Stevenson plans to explore how black women seek health information and build social capital in digital health communities during the COVID-19 pandemic as part of her dissertation. Her work with the WANDA Academy provides a perfect opportunity to study these issues.

Stevenson has also been writing research papers on COVID misinformation related to social media policies and how women are using social media for health information resources.

As part of her experience at SOC, Stevenson serves as the research assistant to Dr. Benjamin Stokes in the Playful City Lab working with DC Public Libraries and the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum. She will be featured in an upcoming food justice exhibit curated by the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum in 2021.