Dr. Carrie West is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Schreiner University. Dr. West earned her PhD in Communication from the University of Denver with a focus on interpersonal and family communication, and a cognate in research methods. She has written a book chapter about the family identity of bereaved remarried stepfamilies in More than blood: Today’s reality and tomorrow’s vision of family, and has presented papers on grief, bereavement, resilience, privacy, and wellness and well-being at several national and regional academic conferences including the annual conferences of the National Communication Association, Southern States Communication Association, and at the upcoming conference for the Society for Behavioral Medicine. Dr. West has served as an international consultant for the customer support industry as the Science Lab Director, primarily working on research design, statistical analysis, and training. In addition to academic presentations and consulting, Dr. West has presented workshops to a wide variety of audiences on the topics of privacy, resilience, conflict, decision making, empowerment, social support, and wellness.
Carrie was widowed in 1999 when her husband, Shane, was killed in a car accident. She was left with two boys, Nathan who was 6, and Holden who was 1, and found very few resources for younger widows. Determined to learn more to help her children and herself, and to make sense of her new reality, she went back to school. Starting with a course in family communication she was fascinated with all we “know,” and even more with all we don’t “know” about widowhood. When she looked for resources which were difficult to find, Dr. West realized she could help correct that problem.
Carrie’s passion for the widowed community, and a desire to get resources into the hands of the people who need them, led her to Michele, at Soaring Spirts. Dr. West had read an article about Camp Widow in USA Today and thought, “These are my people!” In a wonderful demonstration of mutual support, Soaring Spirits and the widowed community responded with eagerness to help Dr. West with research for her dissertation project.
Dr. West gives back to this community by serving on the Soaring Spirits Advisory board, consulting on methodologies to evaluate, prove, and improve the effectiveness of Soaring Spirits resources, programs, and workshops. She continues to question the ways we do grief and healing, and to use her research, her teaching, and her consulting to improve resources for individuals who have lost a partner and for their families.