Kaitlin Pegoda ('15) | Social Work

Kaitlin Pegoda

Hometown: Huntsville, Texas 

Kaitlin Pegoda is on a mission to impact her world through research. She’s currently conducting studies at Hendrick Medical Center to gather information on how to provide interventions and proactive measures of care for people in the battle against cancer. 

For Kaitlin, that battle is personal. 

“My little brother was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer called Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis when he was 2 years old,” explains Kaitlin. “Since then, he has undergone 11 years of chemotherapy treatments for this disease.” 

Kaitlin says her brother exhibits resilience and positivity in the face of adversity that motivates her to do research in the medical field. 

“In seeing my little brother deal with the cancer, I saw there were things I could do to help that didn’t have to include the treatments themselves. I saw that I could make a difference in another way.” 

Her previous work at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston helped her identify how design and communications in a children’s hospital context can significantly impact the experiences of children undergoing treatment, and her current research at Hendrick has the potential to reveal important factors common among those who score as being resilient while undergoing cancer treatments. 

Kaitlin’s research is already making waves. She’s won multiple awards and presented her work both locally and across the country in Providence, R.I., and she plans to present her latest findings at the annual Baccalaureate Program Directors Conference this spring in Kansas City, Mo. She also has plans to present at the Western Social Science Association Annual Conference in Portland, Ore. 

The talented undergraduate cites Dr. Stephen Baldridge, director of ACU’s Bachelor of Science in Social Work program, and Dr. Laura Lemley, director of the Speaking Center and graduate studies, as her two biggest mentors. 

“Dr. Baldridge has always been there to help me cultivate my ideas, work through roadblocks and advocate for my passions and my research, and Dr. Lemley was the first person to encourage my big ideas for medical and interdisciplinary research.” 

For Kaitlin, her big ideas in medical research will always be connected to her goal of improving patients’ lives and providing optimal treatment. 

“I hope to make significant contributions to the field of medical social work and change the face of treatment, specifically cancer treatment, for each patient who walks through the doors of a healthcare facility.”

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