University of South Florida


PhD Student Olajumoke Ojeleye poses in the USF Health College of Nursing

From midwife to researcher: USF Nursing PhD student wins awards for perinatal health studies

There are three shared experiences among humans across the globe: life, death, and mental health. Unfortunately, some young mothers may experience all three in one perinatal cycle. One nursing PhD student is investigating ways to improve the mental health and morbidity outcomes of perinatal adolescents.

Olajumoke “Jummy” Ojeleye is a third-year PhD student at the University of South Florida (USF). Born and raised in Nigeria, West Africa, Ojeleye was eager to enhance the field of maternal care. She became a nurse-midwife and practiced in various settings, including clinical care, academia, and non-governmental organizations in Nigeria before starting her PhD program at USF. It was as a midwife that she began recognizing that maternal morbidity and mortality were global issues.

Olajumoke Ojeleye prepares to present her research.

Olajumoke Ojeleye prepares to present her research.

“According to the World Health Organization, midwives educated to international standards can prevent over 80% of maternal mortality including perinatal depression,” says Ojeleye. “I am committed to making an impact through research and supporting the next generation of nurses and midwives.”

Ojeleye’s goal is to use her experience and skills as a nurse-midwife to address pressing problems in perinatal mental health, an underserved aspect of maternity care. Her research into perinatal mental health was first recognized with a monetary award at the 2023 USF Health Research Day. The recognition continued as her studies progressed. During the 2024 USF Health Research Day, Ojeleye presented findings from her integrative review titled, “Perinatal Depression and Anxiety Among Adolescents: Knowledge, Perception, Care Preferences, and Access to Perinatal Mental Health Care.” Her presentation captured the current state of the science on perinatal depression and perinatal anxiety among adolescents across diverse geographical and cultural contexts and was awarded The USF Health Deans’ Interprofessional Research Award.

This study was foundational to further develop Ojeleye’s understanding of perinatal mental health and the existing gaps, which is a growing area of research among adolescents. The findings helped her identify the specific research gaps and areas to focus on in her follow-up dissertation titled, “The Lived Experiences of Pregnant and Parenting Adolescents With Perinatal Depression and Perinatal Anxiety in the Tampa Bay Area of Florida.” This ongoing study aims to explore pregnant and parenting adolescents' knowledge of mental health, identify their unique mental health needs, understand their care preferences, and determine the factors that motivate or hinder them from utilizing existing perinatal mental health services. 

Dr. Oruche and Olejeyes pose together.

Dr. Ukamaka Oruche and Olajumoke Ojeleye pose together outside the USF Health College of Nursing. 

Recently receiving the ISPN Foundational Mental Health Research Grant by the International Society of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses for this project, Ojeleye expresses gratitude for all those who mentored her in this process, including Dr. Ukamaka Oruche, USF Health College of Nursing Senior Associate Dean of Research and PhD Program Director.

“I helped Jummy by analyzing and synthesizing her literature review, then refining her manuscript, and identifying the best journal for submission and publication,” says Oruche. "I loved the aha moment in her face when the findings became crystal clear.”

Ojeleye will begin collecting data for this study later this summer. 

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