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How Researching with Passion Led International Student to Fellowship

How Researching with Passion Led International Student to Fellowship

AD+PR doctoral student, Barikisu Issaka, was recently selected for a prestigious fellowship to support her research in women’s health communications
By: Tori VanSlambrouck

The American Association of University Women awards fellowships and grants to outstanding women who will change the world by empowering and improving women’s lives. Michigan State University Advertising + Public Relations doctoral student, Barikisu Issaka, and her work are doing just that.

Now in her second year in MSU’s interdepartmental information and media Ph.D. program, Issaka’s progressive research aims to gain a better understanding of how to identify postpartum depression in new mothers through social media activity. She says the end goal of her research is to aid in the development of symptom detection and to understand if women are seeking help for their needs.

“I really want to see if people actually express their depressive symptoms online, and how they do that,” said Issaka. “I think it’ll be interesting to see those results.”

Issaka says many women are not aware of symptoms of postpartum depression or how to properly treat the condition. This highlights the important role communication holds in various fields, specifically health.

“I think my work is important because the kids are the future leaders, and anything that affects the mother affects the kid,” said Issaka. “We want our future leaders to be very healthy and have good cognitive processes.”

Issaka’s passion for communication and media in women’s health originated during her time as an undergraduate at the University of Ghana in West Africa. As a nonprofit volunteer, she says she witnessed firsthand the lack of knowledge and communication about women’s health issues.

She says from that point on, she’s been determined to discover why this is, and how to fix it.

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“[For health issues] Prevention is always better than curing,” said Issaka.

Issaka encourages students hoping to discover their passions to join research groups.

“Our department, we are really lucky, we have so many research groups,” said Issaka. “When you join, you will be able to learn more about what others are doing. You can ask questions and relate the research to your passions.”

For undergraduates finding your passions, with over 25 different Communication Arts and Sciences student groups and many research opportunities available, AD+PR students are certain to find the first step in making a difference.