May 24, 2022

Meet T32 Predoc Melissa Vera


Melissa Vera is a current PhD candidate at the University of Washington School of Nursing. She is a citizen of the Ts’msyen and Yaqui First Nations from British Columbia and Northern Mexico, respectively. Her research focuses on HIV prevention among adolescent girls and young women in Western Kenya at UW Department of Global Health. She also researches Indigenous health and climate change for Washington State University. Prior to becoming a PhD student, Ms. Vera practiced as a registered nurse for four years in the hospital and clinic settings, while also working as a medical editor and writer. Her first bachelor’s degree is in Creative Writing from Seattle University and her BSN she earned from Boise State University (her hometown). In her free time, she enjoys kung fu, yoga, baking, and hiking among the moss and cedars.

Nursing & UW

Why did you decide to receive a doctoral degree in nursing?

I wanted to go into nursing because I wanted to care for patients and nurses have the most hands-on interaction. I loved seeing the difference I could make in a patient’s experience with healthcare.

What brought you to the Pacific Northwest?

I wanted to go to the best nursing school in the country and I had lived in Seattle before, a place I love to call home.


What is the primary topic for research?

HIV Prevention Among Adolescent Girls and Young Women in Western Kenya

How did you become interested in this topic?

I’m interested in health questions that look at user experience for patients receiving care in healthcare settings. It’s a complex issue and can incorporate many facets of life.


What do you like to do outside of work & studies?

Kung fu, yoga, baking, hiking

What’s next for you?

After graduation, I will become research faculty at Washington State University and further pursue my research in Indigenous health and climate change.