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Hendersonville native wins fellowship at UCLA

Rebecca Woofter Rebecca Woofter

A Hendersonville native who is a doctoral student at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health has been awarded the school’s 2022 Celia and Joseph Blann Fellowship for her excellence in academics at the graduate school, ranked as one of the Top 10 public health programs in the United States.

Rebecca Woofter, a specialist in maternal and reproductive health in the Fielding School’s Department of Community Health Sciences, received the fellowship at the school’s 2022 Student Academic Honors and Awards Ceremony, at UCLA.

“I sought a Ph.D. in public health to help address inequities in reproductive health," Woofter said. "At UCLA, I am grateful to have learned from incredible faculty mentors who have guided me as a scholar and as a person. It is an honor to be recognized for this work by my mentors.”

Woofter, the daughter of Susan and Doug Woofter, has a 3.96 GPA and is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis (2019, MPH, Epidemiology and Biostatistics) and Emory University in Atlanta (2016, B.A., History and Political Science). She is a current affiliate of the UCLA California Center for Population Research. Along with teaching at UCLA and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, she has worked as a researcher at UCLA and Washington University. At Emory University, she worked on issues of campus sexual violence and served as resident advisor.

Woofter is a third-year doctoral student whose research at the Fielding School has focused on maternal and reproductive health, including contraceptive use, birth outcomes, and access to and quality of healthcare. She has co-authored or contributed to no less than eight research papers published in peer-reviewed journals, including a 2021 study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association that found exclusive immigrant policies are associated with higher rates of preterm birth for Black women born outside the United States, while inclusive immigrant policies were associated with lower preterm birth for all women born outside the U.S.

“Rebecca’s program of research is impressive, and in addition to its rigor and key contributions to science, her work also demonstrates her continued dedication to advancing health equity among vulnerable communities,” said Dr. Courtney S. Thomas Tobin, a Fielding School professor who nominated Woofter for the fellowship. “Rebecca has emerged as an exceptional teacher, including independently teaching a seminar at UCLA that focuses on reproductive health across the life course.”

The Blann fellowship, which includes a $10,000 stipend, is awarded annually to doctoral students on the basis of academic excellence. It was established by Annette Blann to honor the memory of her parents. A 1954 UCLA graduate, she was committed to the enhancement of health and well-being.