University of South Florida

College of Behavioral and Community Sciences


Aging studies student named McKnight Fellow

Charity Lewis

Charity Lewis, an incoming PhD student to the School of Aging Studies, received the McKnight Doctoral Fellowship. This fellowship program has increased the number of African Americans who have earned doctoral degrees in historically underrepresented disciplines. The purpose of the fellowship is to address the under-representation of African American and Hispanic faculty at colleges and universities in Florida by increasing the pool of qualified candidates with PhDs to teach at the college and university levels.

Lewis received a master's degree in gerontology from USF last year, and she brings to the PhD program a special interest in audiology and in disparities among older adults. While working on her master’s, she assisted in the Auditory Rehabilitation and Clinical Trials Laboratory at USF. During this time, she realized that older adults who are Black don’t appear to use hearing aids or have the same access to hearing aids as others do. Given the importance of hearing to health and well-being, Charity identified this as a critical health disparity that deserved greater research attention.

Lewis will begin her PhD studies in the School of Aging Studies in the Fall of 2022. While here, she plans to research disparities in hearing health services, with the hope that her work leads to policies and clinical practices to improve the quality of care and quality of life for an underserved population.

In addition to the McKnight Doctoral Fellowship, Lewis was also recently awarded the first Kathryn Hyer Endowed Memorial Scholarship in Public Policy and Aging. As a researcher, Kathryn Hyer, PhD believed that she had a responsibility to conduct studies about real-world concerns. Her work focused on the care older adults receive in later life through services provided in their homes, assisted living communities, or nursing homes and her main goal was learning how to improve quality of care and quality of life for older adults.

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The Mission of the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences (CBCS) is to advance knowledge through interdisciplinary teaching, research, and service that improves the capacity of individuals, families, and diverse communities to promote productive, satisfying, healthy, and safe lives across the lifespan. CBCS envisions the college as a globally recognized leader that creates innovative solutions to complex conditions that affect the behavior and well-being of individuals, families, and diverse communities.