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Perseverance Pays Off for Lumbee Graduate of Public Health Doctoral Program

Lisa Oxendine, Lumbee, was the first from her tribe and second American Indian to attend this Executive Doctoral Program in Health Leadership at UNC.

Lisa Huggins Oxendine graduated the University Of North Carolina Chapel Hill Gillings School Of Global Public Health’s Executive Doctoral Program in Health Leadership in December 2014. This distance program confers a Doctor of Public Health in Health Administration to senior-level healthcare professionals. Oxendine was part of an international cohort that included members from Switzerland, New Guinea, Canada, France, North Carolina and other states.

The program requires each cohort to meet online once a week and in-person in August, January, and May of the first two years. The remaining years are focused on dissertation completion.

Oxendine, Lumbee, was the first from her tribe and second American Indian to attend this Executive Doctoral program. Her dissertation was titled, “Critical Factors Related To Communication Of Nutrition Information Targeting Lumbee Women In Robeson County, NC.” She interviewed Lumbee women in Robeson County to understand how to communicate nutrition information that encourages health-supporting dietary behaviors by tribal women. She chose this topic after learning that Lumbee women who received cardiac intervention at Duke University Medical Center since 1969 had more significant cardiovascular disease and risk factors than other patients. Oxendine’s research indicates the current state of nutrition communication does not effectively encourage Lumbee women to consume nutritious foods. Effective nutrition communication targeted to Lumbee women must consider critical factors such as engagement of Lumbee women in nutrition communication change efforts. Additionally, agencies with beneficial resources including decision-making and policy-setting power must collaboratively address nutrition communication issues for Lumbee women in Robeson County, North Carolina.

Oxendine earned her undergraduate degree in mathematics with a computer science track and master’s in mathematics education at UNC-Pembroke. She completed the Wake Forest University School of Medicine Physician Assistant program in 1995. She is a nationally certified physician assistant and has received distinction as a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Physician Assistants.

She is employed by Children’s Health of Carolinas as a Physician Assistant and Corporate Administrator. In 2013, she assumed the role of executive director of the Children’s Health of Carolina Foundation.

Oxendine has written and self-published three books, and she received a North Carolina Society of Historians D. T. Smithwick Newspaper/Magazine Award. Her works have been cited by other organizations. She collaborated on a writing project with the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity at Wake Forest University.

She has spoken at events such as the Wake Forest University School of Medicine Physician Assistant Symposium, American Indian Health Conferences, Southeastern American Indian Conference, American Indian Women’s Conferences, North Carolina Baptist State Convention’s Annual Women’s Prayer and Evangelism Conference, and the UNC Minority Health Conference. She was a member of the NC Institute of Medicine Task Force on Early Childhood Obesity Prevention.

Oxendine is the daughter of Earl and Sally Huggins of Lumberton, North Carolina. She is married to Terry Oxendine and they have a daughter and granddaughter. She feels her life success is the culmination of learning that perseverance brings rewards and believing that God has great plans.