Category Archives: Ph.d

2016 What About Your Friends?


I was wrong. A few things had happened and I took them to be something different then what they were. So I proceeded to talk about a friend behind their back. I did this instead of talking to my friend about it. Well, of course what I said went back to my friend and they were hurt. I figured as such and I reached out to apologize. I felt bad. I was wrong for what I did.
So my friend told me how much I hurt them. I was devastated about what happened. So my friend said I needed to make a public apology and guess what? I did. My friend means more to me than the people that I was talking to and even if our friendship is never the same, atleast they know where my heart is. I also know that I have to reevaluate my friendships. Maybe the truth is that I consider everyone to be my friend but in reality I don’t have any. Don’t let my Twitter or Facebook followers fool you. I probably have more associates than anything. At this point in my life even though it makes me sad, I have to be okay with that and I will. So many people underestimate me and cannot begin to understand the pain that I have felt in my life. And again that is okay. People may have to be hard pressed when I go mute because I’m really really good at it.
At the end of the day you have to ask yourself what and who matter. There is no point in letting people get me down just because it is easy. But oh it is so easy. So I’m going to go through the motions just to get through because that is important to me. Maybe it is much less important that my voice be heard because in a vaccum of white noise everything cancels out anyway. I’m very disappointed in myself for believing that things were different. I only had a few friends growing up and I don’t even have them now.
So here’s to me learning a lesson in being quiet.

2016 When Everything Turns Up Roses


Hey y’all. I hope this finds you well. If not, I hope you feel a little better after reading. Why? Because you deserve to feel great. I know it sounds cheesy, but once you start telling yourself what you deserve, you start feeling better. Now this may get a little bumpy as I tend to go all over the place(just like my writing, and another reason why revision is a great thing, not something to fear or hate).

First things first, this semester is going awesome. Like I totally turned things around in Stats(and each class session is even more awesome). For instance, last week we began a conversation about multilevel modeling and I am telling you it was like poetry. Pure mathematical poetry. Every day I realize that I love math(a lot).

Second, I got an awesome job. Like it is so awesome that I still can’t believe it. I just can’t believe that I have this opportunity. The people that I work with are great. I get to work on real world projects. I am in a good space.

Third, every single conference that I submitted to, I was accepted. I still can’t believe that people want to hear about my work and what I have to say. So, a lot of people are proud of me and I have been given permission to be proud of myself. I am. I am.

Fourth, everything is working out wonderfully, so for the first time in a long, long time, I have no drama. Yep, you read that right, no major drama in my life(or the dancery quoting MJBlige). What does this mean? It means that I have a lot of time to make up my own internal drama(filled with over thinking and wondering where Prince Charming is). But I have an amazing support group who nudges me and jostles me out of the drama cloud and I am on my merry way again.

So, I plan on doing a better job of writing on here. So, be ready for a bunch of stuff because I have a lot to talk about(or be ready for a little bit of stuff because I might get busy lol). Who knows, let’s just be optimistic and hope for the best.

I am hoping for the best in all things. Even though I am turning that big scary 3-5 in a few months, I am going to be optimistic. Even though it seems as if Prince Charming lost all of my contact info, I am going to be optimistic. Even though there are a million things that I cannot change, I am going to be optimistic. Because really at the end of the day, I have no other choice.

Peace, love, and light y’all 🙂


2016 Gratitude


    Hey y’all! I just wanted to post some good stuff. With all that is going on in the world, I don’t think positive vibes hurt anything.
In line with the year of yes, I accepted a super cool job. My family is proud of me. My friends want me around. I am doing well in my classes.
     I know that doesn’t sound much but it means a lot to me.     No I haven’t met the great love of my life yet but I still manage to smile at the world. I’m trying to be the change that I want to see in the world and on most days, I think I’m on the right track.
    It seems like everyday I have an epiphany about something and I’m humbled. I know that my journey is only through the help and strength of a ton of angels on Earth.
    I got to hear my sponsor’s experience, strength, and hope tonight and I know that God blessed me with her awesome example of living life on life’s terms. I have had the opportunity to hear so much wisdom from my professors and I’m blessed to learn from them.
    So I’m just a bundle of gratitude because when we talk about the promises, I know that I didn’t envision anything that even remotely looks like my life today.
   I’m grateful for you taking the time to read my roller coaster of a blog.
Thank you!

2016 The Year Of Being Open To Life


Hey blog readers and viewers. I hope you are having a great new year so far. I know I am. I told God and the universe that I wanted to be open and a lot of good things have come my way.
     I had two interesting job interviews this week. I hope to hear a good word soon. Classes started back in my doctoral program. I don’t think I have been more excited about a semester. Anxiety aside, things are looking up. People are showing interest in my research. I’m getting amazing feedback and that’s great fuel to keep writing.
     I renewed my gym membership so now I have to go. I’m going swimming tomorrow. I have been getting in some good workouts.
     I met someone. I know it’s early but it is so interesting. We are getting to know each other. We spend time talking. He seems to be into me. Which is surprising. I already laid down the law. He knows where I stand. So even though things feel great, I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop. I think he is intrigued because I’m not looking to hookup. I’m also very honest.
     We are using SAS this semester and I had to get another laptop and amazingly found one for just my price and all I need. I’m calling it an early birthday/dissertation gift.
     I feel like I’m in a really good place at the moment and that’s great. One funny thing is that now that I found someone to be interested in, all of these other people that I was interested in before have all made a point to reach out to me. One day I was thinking about how many guys may still have my number in their phones. I know that’s an odd thought.
     But whatever happens, it’s nice to have someone to think fondly of and know that someone is thinking about me too.
Well I better try and get some sleep.
May your tomorrow bring even more joy than today 🙂

2016 Potential and Possibilities


Hey blog readers and viewers, looks like we made it to 2016. You may be wondering how 2016 will be different than 2015. You may be wondering if 2016 will be better than 2015. The answer to these questions is: As of this moment, I don’t know. I hope that things will be different. I hope that things will be better. But I know that this can only happen when I focus on changes that I need to make in order to have better outcomes.

I am doing my best to keep a positive outlook on things and that includes minimizing negative energy(I may not be able to eliminate it but I can definitely minimize how much of it I allow myself to be consumed by). Negative energy is draining and I want to be a source of positive energy so I believe that you get back what you put into the world so I am attempting to put more positivity in the atmosphere.

I haven’t made any resolutions for the New Year but I do have goals. Last year I had a huge list of goals and when I looked back over them, I had accomplished half of them. I was quite surprised if I do say so myself. So the plan is to continue working on the other goals in order to accomplish them. I know it sounds simple, but it requires work and dedication. Also, I believe that we have to have not only faith in ourselves, but faith in our goals(that they are achievable).

One part to achieving a goal is making a plan. I made a workout plan(for most of 2016, a meal plan, and of course a training plan for my running). These are things that I have done before but seeing them written down really did something to me, it made me excited. So before the new year hit, I had racked a few days under my belt of consistency.

I always make plans to read through the Bible in a year but I really don’t like reading the book of Genesis( I know that sounds horrible but hear me out), I think the first couple chapters of Genesis are quite dry, they are pretty much in my brain and I just struggle with getting through them consistently. Well, I am praying that I get through it. I will keep you posted.

Last semester I had the awesome experience of writing the first and second drafts of my dissertation proposal. I know right!? I couldn’t believe it either, until I did it and did it again. Well, now I am working on the first draft of my dissertation seeing it in full draft form is a wonder in itself. I am so excited about it. I am just glad to be on the right track.

Next week classes begin for the second semester of my second year of doctoral work. I feel like I am ready for it and I look forward to what the new semester brings. I have worked very hard to brush up on my coding for my stats and I am really excited about it.

Well, here’s to a great year!



Exploring the inequality-mortality relationship in the US with Bayesian spatial modeling (Yang and Jensen 2015)


Research questions: 1) Is the relationship between socioeconomic inequality and place due to different levels of deprivation and social capital? 2) Does income inequality threaten population health?
Purpose: To test the relationship between socioeconomic inequality and place.
Hypotheses: 1) Without any other independent covariates, inequality is positively related to mortality 2) Including control variables into the analysis will not fully explain the inequality-mortality relationship 3) After controlling for deprivation, social capital, and other variables in the analysis, inequality is not associated with mortality.
Data: United States County level data from U.S. Census Bureau and the 2003-2007 Compressed Mortality Files (CMF) by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)
Main findings:
• There was a positive and significant association between income inequality and mortality that was partially explained by racial composition, SES scores, and metropolitan status
• The inequality-mortality association increased (by over 20%) when controlling for social capital and deprivation which impacted mortality in the expected direction
• The Gini coefficient remained a significant correlate of mortality.
• Deprivation and social capital partly but do not completely account for why inequality is positively associated with mortality
• Spatial modeling generates more accurate predictions than does the traditional approach.
1. What are some mechanisms that can be utilized to reduce the relationship between income inequality and mortality?
2. How would you devise a system that better informs how we view place and its role in explaining population?
3. What other frameworks would you suggest to better explain place and mortality?

Reflection-Space and Place Effects on Mortality


There continues to be high rates of infant mortality in poor and minority communities (Sparks et al. 2013; Sparks et al. 2009; Cossman et al, 2010). This is particularly true for rural areas with high concentration of minority households that also tend to be poor (Xu et al. 2014; Sparks and Sparks 2010). The purpose of this response is to discuss the contributions to this area of mortality specifically through spatial models. The continued increase in differentials of infant mortality in rural areas is a cause of concern and continued research.
When discussing infant mortality rates specifically when discussing minority infant mortality rates, much of the research has not focused on the role of space and place as a contributor to infant mortality (Xu et al. 2014; McLaughlin et al. 2007). Spatial statistical modeling serves to fill in the gap of not only how we define and discuss space and place in relation to individuals but also society as a whole (Xu et al. 2014; Sparks et al. 2010). With a better understanding of space and place comes new areas of discussion for not only improvement but also functionality that best serves those who interact in spaces and places that is unlike what may have previously occurred. Spatial modeling provides more in depth information as to how space and place function to inform a number of outcomes including infant mortality (Sparks et al. 2013; Xu et al. 2014; Yang et al. 2015). Spatial modeling gives greater detail into patterns of health and mortality that serve to benefit a variety of industry and agency which can translate into improved health outcomes for those who are at risk for higher rates of infant mortality as a result of living in a high-risk area.

Research studies show that there are higher rates of infant mortality in nonmetropolitan areas as a result of lack of access to needed health resources that occur less in metropolitan areas (McLaughlin et al. 2007; Xu et al. 2014; Sparks et al. 2009). When nonmetropolitan areas continue to have smaller pathways to access compared to metropolitan areas, there is a higher likelihood of higher mortality which would include infant mortality. With a lack of access to the nearest hospital for treatment and preventative measures throughout pregnancy in the case of expectant mothers, there is a higher rate of infant mortality due to complications and concerns that would be preventative in nature as a result of having quality access to health care services. McLaughlin and colleagues (2007) make the point that when we discuss inequality related to health, inequality by definition becomes a multilayered source of mortality (McLaughlin et al. 2007). As a result, when inequality is discussed, the framework of the discussion has to be multi-dimensional in order to capture all of the varied aspects that are impacted by inequality.
Previous statistically analysis in the area of mortality and health care research often contributed to the short sited nature of framing the issue of inequality (Xu et al. 2014; McLaughlin et al. 2007; Sparks and Sparks 2010). As a result, in order to get a more complete picture of inequality, the use of spatial statistical modeling is imperative. Spatial statistically modeling provides the insight into the highest areas of need and also the proximity to needed resources in order to better inform the allocation of resources for preventative measures at a larger scale.

Historically cities had higher mortality rates (Xu et al. 2014) and as a result of using spatial statistical modeling, there was greater insight into the historical health of a neighborhood and also insight into future health research. In the case of excess nonmetropolitan death, spatial statistical models provided the data needed to make the case for more research being needed in nonmetropolitan areas (McLaughlin et al. 2007; Xu et al. 2014; Sparks et al. 2013). This research shows that there is a need for reinvestment into nonmetropolitan areas in order to prevent further excess mortality and devastation of nonmetropolitan land. This is critical for areas that have historically experienced wide scale inequality specifically in the rural South and also Native American reservations (Sparks et al. 2013; Xu et al. 2014).
Using the idea that McLaughlin and colleagues (2007) present of spatial inequality equates to mortality inequality, which Sparks and Sparks (2010) also contend, makes the argument for the need of not only resource reinvestment but also ecological reinvestment through various means such as the addition of green spaces and the elimination of known spaces that contribute to poor health outcomes such as revitalizing unused spaces, cleaning rivers, reimaging recycling/landfill structures.
These are some of the ways that spatial statistical analysis can inform not only health practices but help to combat rising infant mortality rates in areas of high inequality that are often nonmetropolitan in nature.