My name is Staja Booker, affectionately known as Star by family, friends, and colleagues. I was born and raised in the Cajun state of Louisiana in a small town called Jonesboro.
My Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree is from Grambling State University and my master’s degree is from Penn State University in gerontology/adult health. I attribute my love of older adults to my granny who turned 106 years old in June 2014; she is truly blessed. My broad area of research is pain in older adults, with a special focus on understanding and improving pain management in older African Americans given their propensity for immense health and pain disparities. My interest in pain management began as an undergraduate and this love has grown and evolved over the years. My dissertation will explore the role of patient activation in pain self-management and control over pain in older African Americans who have osteoarthritis or chronic joint pain.
I chose to attend the University of Iowa seeking mentorship from Professor Keela Herr, who is a recognized expert in pain management in older adults. Obtaining a PhD degree from the University of Iowa will position me to effect change in pain practice and policy in community and corporate settings. After completing my PhD, I hope to pursue a one-year post-doctoral fellowship at a research university then transition to a tenure-track position in a school of nursing, hopefully closer to home (Louisiana). I believe my nursing education has come full circle such that my undergraduate alma mater’s colors were black and gold and the University of Iowa’s colors are also black and gold.