Sharese Porter
Sharese Porter

Urban Health


Work Position
Senior Program Coordinator
Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Department of Family and Community Health Sciences

Date passed dissertation defense: September 9, 2013


Sharese Porter earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Health and Sociology from Rutgers University and Master of Public Health, with a concentration in Community Health Education, from Temple University.  She has maintained the credential of Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) for over 12 years.  During her career, she has worked in various health and health care sectors including corporate health care organizations, higher education as an adjunct faculty member, state, and local public health departments.  Much of her community based experience was gained during her tenure as a health educator with the Department of Health and Human Services in the City of Newark, NJ, where she was born and raised.  Her current position as a Senior Program Coordinator in the Department of Family and Community Health Sciences of Rutgers Cooperative Extension has allowed her to teach families, support schools, and build community capacity to improve health and nutrition. Sharese’s research interests include health disparities, health promoting behaviors and the effect of racial residential segregation and other social determinants on the health of African American and Black immigrant populations.

Title of Dissertation

Perceived social environment and self-reported health status among African American and African Caribbean immigrants in the U.S.

Dissertation Abstract

Immigrants of African descent experience better health outcomes than African Americans but this health advantage dissipates over time and in succeeding generations.  Few studies have investigated the influence of environmental factors on their declining health. This study examined the relationship between individual characteristics, neighborhood features and exposure to the U.S. social contexts on self-reported physical and mental health status among African American and African Caribbean adults who reside in “predominantly” African American and African Caribbean neighborhoods in the U.S.  The conceptual framework was drawn from several models, race and health model, eco-social theory, and environmental stress exposure – disease framework, as well as theories specific to immigrant populations.  Secondary data analysis using bivariate and logistic regression analysis of the 2001-2003 National Survey of American Life dataset was conducted with the sample comprised of African Americans (2,140) and African Caribbeans (687). Features of the neighborhood environment (higher social cohesion, neighborhood satisfaction, and frequent drug activity), immigrant status (age at migration and years lived in the U.S.) were associated with increased odds of fair or poor mental health. Nativity and number of years lived in the neighborhood were associated with increased odds of fair/poor mental health. Poorer perceptions of physical health were associated with increased exposure to the U.S. social context, based on number of years lived in the U.S. and by generation. Second and higher generation immigrants had increased odds of fair or poor physical health than first generation when controlling for age, gender, and SES, but not when physical and mental co-morbidities were added to control variables.  African Caribbean immigrants and African Americans reported no significant differences in their overall self-rated mental and physical health status suggesting convergence of their health status mediated by exposure to similarly racially constituted neighborhoods and the U.S. social contexts.



Porter, S. N.  and Pacquiao, D. F.(August, 2011).  The social and cultural construction of depression among African American women.  UPNAA International Nursing Journal, 7(1).


Sherese was the recipient of the NJ Society for Public Health Education (NJSOPHE) Academic Scholarship Award (December, 2011) and Rutgers-Newark Graduate Student Excellence Award 2012.

She was a research assistant with the Race, Neighborhood, and African American Health (RNA) research study under Dr. Naa Oyo Kwate, Lab Director and Associate Professor, Human Ecology and Africana Studies, Rutgers University.


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