Alumni Spotlight: Shannon Halloway, PhD ’16/CON

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Shannon Halloway knew as a teenager that she wanted to work in nursing. Specifically she wanted to help older adults who are facing more challenges — physical and mental — as they age.

“I come from a family of professional helpers. Relatives work in education, in various trades and a few in nursing,” Halloway said. “I had caregiving experience with my grandmother and so that’s an area of care that has always been important to me.”

Her early experiences working in intensive care with elderly people inspired Halloway to think about how she could affect patient care for whole groups of people into the future, instead of interacting with one person at a time.

“I wanted to make an impact on a national and global scale,” she said.

Halloway’s desire to pursue nursing research led her to Rush. She began in the Rush University College of Nursing BSN to PhD program, which allowed her to practice patient care while also engaging in research efforts. Scholarships from the Golden Lamp Society — which celebrates donors to the College of Nursing and its students — and assistance through the college with securing grant funding helped enable Halloway to pursue a unique nursing career.

“There are two schools of thought for pursuing additional nursing education: Some believe you need a strong, long foundation of practice experience before pursuing a PhD,” Halloway said. “Others suggest pursuing a doctorate right away. At Rush I had the best of both worlds. I remained in practice throughout my entire doctoral education.”

For her dissertation, Halloway studied the relationship between physical activity and cognition in elderly Latinos, a group often left out of such research. Halloway is continuing to study the relationship between activity and brain health at Rush as the College of Nursing’s first Golden Lamp Society Postdoctoral Research Fellow.

“I want to prevent hospitalizations and promote quality of life and independence for older adults,” Halloway said. “We’ve seen that older people with heart disease are at greater risk for cognitive impairment or dementia, and this is even more pronounced in women.”

Funding for this new fellowship came from GLS scholarships — largely provided by gifts from nursing alumni and faculty — as well as the college dean’s office.

“I’m so honored and thankful because I had always wanted to stay and make Rush my home,” Halloway said. “Rush’s balance of patient care, research and education is deeply important for my work and cannot be replicated anywhere else. I’m so grateful to GLS members, as well as the college faculty and staff for supporting my efforts.”