UWW Fellow Morgan Wadams: Examining the experience of people living with HIV and transitioning in and out of the correctional system

Written by Scott Montgomery, Alberta CBR Collaborative Practicum Student

Morgan Wadams is a PhD student and a Universities Without Walls Fellow at the University of Alberta. His doctoral dissertation is a narrative inquiry study examining the experiences of people living with HIV who are transitioning in and out of the correctional system.

Morgan’s interest in correctional system transitions developed as he completed health assessments for people being admitted to the Edmonton Remand Centre where he works as a registered nurse. He observed people with complex health issues, often coupled with social barriers such as poverty and discrimination, repeatedly admitted and discharged from the jail. His observations sparked a curiosity regarding the quality and consistency of care available to these people. Morgan became especially interested in the experiences of people living with HIV in this context, as many populations that are overrepresented in our prisons already face stigma and discrimination. Last year, in what Morgan describes as a “serendipitous moment” a professor asked if he would be interested in undertaking a project on these transitions. This set the wheels in motion, and his dissertation began to take shape.

The purpose of Morgan’s research is to identify the inequities faced by people living with HIV in the context of transitioning in and out of incarceration, but he also aspires to help create meaningful change at the community level. He hopes that his research will help create positive outcomes for this highly stigmatized population by meeting people where they are, and through building and maintaining relationships. To his work, Morgan brings a passion for meaningful engagement and affecting positive change in a way that recognizes not only ‘what’ supports are needed, but ‘how’ these function and ‘where’ they should be delivered.

Morgan’s commitment to meaningful engagement and relationship building are also the answer to questions he often encounters regarding the challenges of working with this population. His experience has taught him that awareness of one’s social location and privilege are essential for anyone working with a population to which they do not belong. He cautions that good intentions alone do not guarantee acceptance or willing participation. When especially difficult challenges arise, Morgan indicates that he never feels alone. His supervisory and advisory committees, along with the people he meets through his work are united in their common goal of creating meaningful relationships and change, and are always willing to help.

Contact Morgan for more information about his research: 
wadams@ualberta.ca | (587) 985-5864
See Morgan’s bio on the UWW website.

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