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IC communication professor awarded research grant


Kallia Wright, associate professor of communication and rhetorical studies, was recently awarded a $5,000 Federation Research prize from the Central States Communication Association.

The grant will fund a study co-authored by Wright titled: "’You Ok Sis?’ A Qualitative Communication Analysis of Black Women's Maternal Health."


Wright is conducting the study in collaboration with Soroya Julian McFarlane (University of Georgia) and Diane Francis (University of Kentucky). The study begins in June, and student researchers from Illinois College will assist in coding of the research data in the fall. 

According to Wright: “Hopefully, through their involvement in the study, the student researchers will become more empathetic to the experiences of Black women who often find themselves marginalized in healthcare. 

“Also, through the personal stories they will code, the students will learn how pregnant Black women advocate for themselves in interactions with family and medical practitioners. Finally, the project allows students to learn qualitative research skills and how these skills can be applied to better understanding how we communicate with each other.”  

Wright said the study is part of a larger mixed methods project examining the birthing experiences of Black women. Through interviews, the project will analyze the lived and communicative experiences of Black women in the U.S. healthcare system before, during and after pregnancy. The research team will analyze how patients, in this case pregnant Black women, advocate for themselves when communicating with others about their health. 

Wright said these perspectives are becoming increasingly important. Recent data illustrates the racial disparity in maternal health, with Black women almost three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. 

To learn more about communication and rhetorical studies at Illinois College, visit 

About Illinois College

Founded in 1829, Illinois College is a residential liberal arts college fostering academic excellence rooted in opportunities for experiential learning while preparing students for lifelong success. The college is located in Jacksonville, Illinois. With an enrollment of more than 1,000 students, the college offers over 50 undergraduate programs. In 1932 the society of Phi Beta Kappa established a chapter at Illinois College, and it remains one of only 11 in the state.

Illinois College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

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