A Tribute to Dr. Karen Meneses
Dr. Karen Meneses, a professor and associate dean at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Nursing, as well as UAB’s lead for SurviveAL, passed away unexpectedly recently. Below are a few of our remembrances of her.
Kayla Lewis: I sent Dr. Meneses a cold-call email in the spring of 2017, asking if she had any opportunities available for graduate students. She quickly invited me to talk to her and Silvia (Silivia Camata is the SurviveAL Coordinator) about the Susan G. Komen Graduate Traineeship in Disparities Research. Dr. Meneses’ kindness radiated from her and she took a chance on me: a basic scientist whom she had never met before! She equipped me with the tools to conduct community-based research, and she appreciated my input on basic science. She immediately gave me the opportunity to give a “Think Well” talk and she also entrusted me with the Young Breast Cancer Survivors Workshop data in order to conduct statistical analyses. She put me in contact with many influential people at UAB and wrote the sweetest and most helpful letters of recommendation. In short, because of Dr. Meneses’ constant encouragement over the course of just one year, I am a much stronger graduate student than I was before I met her.
Bailey Hendricks: I was in the last semester of my undergraduate nursing program and had no intention of going back to school to get my PhD in Nursing. That was - until I met Dr. Karen Meneses. I had the wonderful opportunity to work on some of her breast cancer projects while in the UAB Nursing Honors program and I saw the impact research could have on people in the community. She was able to touch the lives of so many people and improve their quality of life. When I did express an interest in going back to school, Dr. Meneses eagerly suggested that I come and meet with her. We talked about my future and she offered me so much encouragement and support, inspiring me to become a nurse scientist. It it is because of her that I am going to try to change the world. I wish she could have seen it, and I wish I could have had the chance to thank her again for believing in me.
Jacqueline B. Vo: Karen Meneses changed my life, but I did not know her as Karen. To me and many other doctoral students, she was Dr. Meneses. And her name had value beyond what was spoken. I first met Dr. Meneses as a 20-year-old Honors BSN student at UAB School of Nursing. Although I had a wonderful experience with the Young Breast Cancer Survivorship Network, I knew I wanted to build clinical experience. While working as a bedside nurse, she reached out to me to apply to the PhD program. From Day One, she believed in me. The best feeling a mentee can ever have is being believed in by a world-renowned nurse scientist. I am now a PhD graduate and postdoctoral fellow at the National Cancer Institute where I will study cardiotoxicity of breast cancer treatment. However, my successes, present or future, were “ours” – we did it together. She changed my life many times. I am who I am today because of the impact she had on my life, and will embark on my career using the many lessons she taught me, hoping to change the lives of breast cancer survivors for the better - just like she did.
Silvia Camata: Dr. Meneses taught me perseverance and determination in striving for excellence, as well as to work with passion in embracing our community of breast cancer survivors and their loved ones. Because of Dr. Meneses’ work, young women facing breast cancer are not alone in Alabama – they now have support and education! It started in 2012, when the Young Breast Cancer Survivorship Network was created in Birmingham, becoming SurviveAL in 2014, a branch of the Gulf States Young Breast Cancer Survivors Network. Ten years ago, I shared with Dr. Meneses my dream to bring support to young women facing breast cancer. She believed in me, and my dream has been achieved. I am forever grateful!