Tharwa Bilbesi

PhD Student

Office Hours
Contact for office hours and appointments.


I am concentrating on Health Communication under the advisorship of Dr. Joy Goldsmith. I am a second-year doctoral student and should be completing coursework in the fall of 2020 assuming all goes well.

I am also taking courses with the public health department and hope to also complete a graduate certificate in Health Systems Leadership, with the intent to continue an MPH or an MHA in the future. I am also working with professors Appleby and Goodman to incorporate aspects of film and broadcast to integrate into my goals of outreach in public health and health communication. We are also working to design projects that can be incorporated into future study and dissertation work.

I am also doing an unpaid research internship at St. Jude, working on an IRB approved longitudinal study with the Palliative Care team.

Personally, I am a wife and mother of 4 amazing children (ages ranging from soon to be 20-- down to 10). I am a certified Yoga instructor, Reiki practitioner, and health coach. I even taught yoga at the U of M for a few years before returning to graduate school. I currently reside in the area and have called Memphis my home for the last 12 and a half years.



Ph.D. Candidate, University of Memphis Jan 2019- Present
Program: Doctor of Philosophy in Communication Studies
Advisor: Professor Joy Goldsmith, PhD
Health Communication
Department of Communication and Film

Graduate Certificate in Health Systems Leadership

M.A. College of Charleston and The Citadel (Joint program), English May 2002
Thesis: Independent Study "Eighteen Century Western
Representations of Islam and the East"
Advisor: Dr. Terrence Bowers, PhD

B.S. Eastern Michigan University, English Language and Literature May 1999
Cum Laude
Minored in Communications

A.S. Washtenaw Community College Dec 1996
Associates Degree: Basic Studies


Research Interests

In addition to my full-time graduate coursework, I have also submitted 2 abstracts for panel presentation at the 2020 Kentucky Conference for Health Communication (KCHC). The proposals aim to address disparities among special populations as part of a greater study of interdisciplinary approaches to health care among patients at the intersections of race, religion and socio-economic status.

In the upcoming months, I will be collecting data, via interviews and filmed focus groups of local urban religious communities to access their perceived health deficits, health literacy and accessibility, and social determinants that may affect the quality of the healthcare they receive. The aim is to work towards finding viable solutions to bridging the disparity gaps while empowering patients to become effective self-advocates.

Public Service

Midtown Mosque
Monthly Food Drive/Distribution

St. Jude
Volunteer 12/2017, 11/2018