Columbia Nursing student Kodiak Soled sits by a window at Columbia Nursing.

PhD Student Profile: Kodiak Soled

Kodiak Soled, MSN, RN, Praises the Support From Faculty and Mentors

If you’re entering a field that’s relatively new, there may not be one mentor who meets all your needs. But you can learn from and work with a variety of mentors who can weave together their expertise to help you gain yours. The key is to have a village of people who can help you develop the unique expertise you need and connect you to the right people in your field. Being in an environment that will support your whole self is essential to thriving during this intense time period in your life.

Kodiak Soled, MSN, RN


Q: Why did you choose Columbia University School of Nursing?

A: The single piece of advice I heard over and over when choosing a PhD program was to find the right mentor; thus, it was extremely important for me to find a program where I could receive mentorship by a sexual and gender minority (SGM; e.g., lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals) health expert. Columbia’s Program for the Study of LGBT Health is one of the only programs in the country where I could receive a PhD in Nursing Science with a focus on SGM health and the school has one of the largest cohorts of faculty experts in LGBT health. This made the decision to choose Columbia Nursing for my PhD a no-brainer.


Q: Why did you choose the PhD program?

A: I wanted to provide care for SGM childbearing individuals, but quickly found there hadn’t been enough research conducted to provide evidence-based care to this population. I realized I had to be the person I was looking for and do the research myself. Earning a PhD will allow me to design and lead research studies among this population in pursuit of providing better care and promoting the health and wellbeing of SGM’s across the perinatal period.


Q: Do you receive financial aid?

A: All PhD students are fully funded for the first two years of the PhD program. Funding after that can be obtained through grants, scholarships, or being a teacher’s assistant. I chose to submit an NIH grant, and hope that will cover the last two years of the program so I can focus on my research and continue to build the skills I need to become an expert in my field.


Q: How academically rigorous is your program?

A: Overall, the program is rigorous and demanding of your full attention and energy; however, it has never been overwhelming. It’s nicely balanced with a combination of nursing foundations and statistics courses. Everything I’m learning are skills I’ll need for the rest of my career, so it’s all very exciting and interesting to me.


Q: What is your relationship like with your professors and mentors?

A: The faculty support and advisement have been the most important parts of my experience in the PhD program. I’ve received a tremendous amount of feedback on course papers, which has developed my thinking about my research. I have also received strong support from faculty while writing my NIH grant. I have a team of mentors who bring different expertise to the table, including Walter Bockting, PhD, my primary advisor and population (SGM) expert; Maureen George, PhD, my nursing advisor and methods (qualitative) expert; and Catherine Monk, PhD, my “disease” (perinatal) expert.


Q: Are you involved in any extracurricular activities?

A: I serve on the national board of GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality, the world’s largest and oldest LGBTQ professional health-care association. We hold the premier LGBTQ scientific conference in the country and are a leader in public policy advocacy related to LGBTQ health. Being part of something that is able to make a tangible, positive impact on a national scale for the LGBTQ community brings me a lot of joy, meaning, and purpose.


Q: Where do you hope this education will take you?

A: I hope to continue my program of research and contribute to the evolving and growing field of sexual and gender minority perinatal health.


Q: How has globalization affected you academically or professionally?

A: Being able to connect with sexual and gender minority researchers across the globe is absolutely essential, especially since the field is still pretty small and most of the research to date has been conducted outside the United States. Columbia fosters this interconnectedness through the international scholars my advisors have connected me to.