In December of 2009, after months of severe pain and a feeling of imminent doom, I was diagnosed with severe vitamin D deficiency. My 25(OH)D blood serum level was 4 ng/ml. The simplest explanation for my severe vitamin D deficiency is the extreme photosensitivity that I experience as a result of lupus.
After immersing myself in the new research literature on vitamin D, I decided that the truer explanation was more complex and that I needed to study the broader context of nutrition and health in a structured environment. In June of 2013, I took a Master of Science in Health and Nutrition Education, Magna cum Laude, from Hawthorn University.
My thesis, Vitamin D Needs of African Americans during Pregnancy, Lactation, and Early Infancy, represented the strength of my new interest in vitamins D and nutrition and my lifelong commitment to improving the health outcomes of women, infants, and children.
I earned a BA (1973), MA (1976), and PhD (1980) in sociology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. I spent 30 years on the faculty of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond. As a medical sociologist my primary research interest was racial disparities in health, especially birth outcomes but also in autoimmune diagnoses.These interests come together in vitamin D and nutrition. For 28 years, I was jointly appointed in African American Studies at VCU and on several occasions served as the director of that program.
When I tell people that I am a retired VCU faculty member, they ask me what I taught. I take a deep breath before I recite the list: sociology, anthropology, African American studies, and women’s studies. The courses that I taught most often dealt with some aspect of comparative family systems. Except for graduate courses in sociology, most of the courses that I taught were triple listed. Since retiring from VCU in 2010, I have facilitated several graduate seminars on the role of politics in nutrition. The political is very personal.
I am now largely retired even from health and nutrition education. However, I have added DNA genealogy to my list of activities and I still have a need to read, write and reflect. This blog is where I share those activities.