Curiosity is the best point of departure for any journey, especially an adventure in nursing. My journey began after spending a year travelling through Asia in 1978. What Maslow termed a “peak emotional experience” occurred one afternoon in India.  Throwing up my hands in desperation at the poverty and disease, I thought “I wish someone would help these people.”  It suddenly became clear that I had to be the change I wanted to see happen.  Returning to the United States, I enrolled in nursing school.

My career in maternal/child health, my experiences as a public school teacher in a Harlem neighborhood of New York City, and my Peace Corps volunteer work in Africa, have all helped to inform my decision to enroll in a PhD program at the University of Virginia. Currently my topics of interest include: the causes and conditions that contribute to infant mortality in Charlottesville; African American health disparities; end-of-life issues; and homelessness due to intimate partner violence.

Honors and Awards

  • Rodriguez Nursing Student Research and Leadership Scholarship, University of Virginia, School of Nursing (2012)
  • Anne Hemmings Pollok Fellow for Excellence in Clinical Teaching, University of Virginia, School of Nursing (2010)

Research Focus

Historical scholar approach to improving pregnancy outcomes in the Thomas Jefferson Health District by conducting focus groups in neighborhoods with high infant mortality rates.

Clinical Focus

Strong commitment to the health and safety of women and children from low socioeconomic backgrounds within Charlottesville neighborhoods, throughout Virginia, and the wider international community of which we are all a part. Women make most of the healthcare decisions for a family, so a maternal/child focus will have the greatest impact on public health. “Educate a man and you teach one person. Educate a woman and you educate the entire family.”

Teaching Focus

During my Peace Corps volunteer experience in Burkina Faso, a French-speaking West African Country, girls’ education became a focus of my attention in our village. Following my two-years of Peace Corps Service, I returned to the United States and pursued a degree in teaching. My belief is that instructors can create a clinical environment that facilitates each student’s engagement and success.


  • Member, American Nurses Association (Member)
  • Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses (Member)
  • Sigma Theta Tau (Member)


Journal Articles

Burnett, C., Swanberg, M., Hudson, A., & Schminkey, D. (2018). Structural justice: A critical feminist framework exploring the intersection between justice, equity and structural reconciliation. Journal of Health Disparities Research and Practice, 11(4), 4.

Connelly, L., Cramer, E., Demott, Q., Piperno, J., Swanberg, M., Coyne, B., & Winfield, C. (2017). The optimal time and method for surgical pre-warming: A comprehensive review of the literature. Journal of PeriAnesthesia Nursing, 32(3), 199-209. doi:10.1016/j.jopan.2015.11.010