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Arely Perez

Perez received her Master’s degree in Health and Kinesiology at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Currently, she is project coordinator for the Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training program at the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at UT San Antonio, the team behind the Salud America! program. Éxito! aims to increase the number of Latinos who pursue doctoral degrees and cancer research. Since joining the IHPR in 2012, her research focus has been on cancer survivorship and cancer health disparities.

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Articles by Arely Perez

Monica Villarruel: Making Strides for the Health of Latina Mothers

Monica Villarruel is concerned about the unmet health needs of Latina mothers. Seeing her own mother struggle with gestational diabetes while pregnant with her little brother fueled her interest in birth and health outcome disparities among Latinas. She learned how language and other barriers can hurt patient-provider relationships. Villarruel, who recently earned her master’s degree in public health at Washington University in St. Louis, is already on the right path to make a difference. Villarruel has spent nearly a decade in program implementation and evaluation, especially in community-based participatory research involving Latinos. She has worked as a research and program assistant for university- and community-based nonprofits in both Los Angeles and St. Louis. Her ...

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Crystal Costa: Drawing on Her Upbringing to Promote Public Health for Latinos

Growing up around the borders of Mexico, New Mexico, and Texas, Crystal Costa was immersed in Mexican culture. She experienced good, like the red chili peppers for traditional meals. She experienced bad, like seeing how doctors didn’t explain health issues to her mother. Costa’s experience drove her keen interest in working with underserved populations and building capacity among community leaders to improve public health, especially when it comes to environmental justice and health advocacy. Today Costa is working on her master’s degree in public health at the University of Texas at El Paso. She also works with an interdisciplinary research team and provides support to pregnant and postpartum women recovering from substance use disorder and trauma. To further her ...

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Jaquelin Flores: Determined to Reduce Latino Health Inequities

Taking a cue from her energetic, hard-working, El Salvadoran mother, Jaquelin Flores is determined to reduce health inequities that grip the young Latino population. For instance, as she studies for her master’s degree at California State University, Long Beach, she also works as a clinical research coordinator. She leads research projects that focus on psychosocial factors and innovative clinical care models with adolescents and young adults with type 1 diabetes. Flores has a strong desire to shine a light on how different cultural backgrounds influence health behaviors and manifest in different health outcomes. To further her experience and education, Flores applied for the Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training program. The Éxito! program, led by Dr. Amelie ...

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Hilmaris Centeno Girona: Brewing Up a Passion for Coffee (and Latino Health)

Coffee is life for Hilmaris Centeno Girona. For many families in Puerto Rico, coffee is a childhood staple, and Centeno Girona has been an avid java drinker since childhood. Now she’s brewing up a passion for solving cancer health disparities and improving health knowledge among Latinos. Currently, Centeno-Girona is a master’s degree student and a clinical research coordinator at the Comprehensive Cancer Center of the University of Puerto Rico. Her research interest includes health disparities, cancer research, and social and behavioral sciences, in areas like colorectal cancer screening and liver cancer prevention. To further her experience and education, Centeno Girona applied for the Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training program. The Éxito! program, led ...

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Corina Zamora: Using Storytelling to Solve Problems, Boost Health

Corina Zamora grew up playing bingo and telling stories with her family in South Texas. Storytelling even helped in solving problems and learning Spanish, by using loteria cards to tell stories in this language. As the only Latina in a small Texas school, it was important to be able to talk about all experiences, good and bad. Zamora, currently a graduate student at the UTHealth School of Public Health campus in San Antonio, can tell many stories of how she is improving Latino health. After getting interested in public health began as an undergrad at UT Rio Grande Valley, Zamora worked with the USDA to study local agriculture and entomology. She was asked to present this research at the 72nd annual Subtropical Agriculture and Environments Society’s 72nd annual ...

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Alexis Smith: Bridging the Gap between Researchers and Latino Communities

Having witnessed how lack of health information harms Latinos’ quality of life, Alexis Smith wants to bridge the gap between researchers and marginalized communities. Originally from Alabama, Smith is a first-year master’s-degree student in public health at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Her focus is in health promotion research and practice, because she is incredibly interested in advocating for quality healthcare for all people and empowering communities through interventions that are both innovative and evidence-based. She already has served in various public health roles, from working in a community health center as a diabetes prevention coach in the Bronx, to managing social media and youth engagement for a mobile health clinic in Boston. To ...

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Sophia Rodriguez: From Culture Clash to Latino Health Promotion

Growing up, Sophia Rodriguez experienced a clash of Peruvian-Mexican cultures, traditional values, and food in her home. This prepared her to confront uncomfortable health and social justice issues. Now Rodriguez is pushing for Latino health as a master’s-degree student in health promotion and behavioral science at San Diego State University, where she also works as part of a research team to boost colorectal cancer screening. Rodriguez also has coordinated programs for disadvantaged pre-med and pre-health students with the University of California, Riverside. One of the programs involved health coaches stationed at Riverside County clinics that focused on lifestyle modifications for patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. To further her experience ...

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Marissa Jauregui: Mexico Native Takes Aim at Latino Health Disparities

Mexico holds a special place in Marissa Jauregui’s heart. Jauregui has taught English to students in Yucatan as a Fulbright scholar, and she grew up traveling to visit her grandparents. Now she is keeping her roots in mind as a first-year student in the Community Oriented Public Health Practice program at the University of Washington, Seattle. She already is focusing on mental health, reproductive health, health disparities, and health policy. She has strong leadership qualities and desires to conduct research and advocate for mental health services outside of the clinic. To further her experience and education, Jauregui applied for the Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training program. The Éxito! program, led by Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez at UT Health San Antonio ...

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Emily Reyes: Finding Ways to Reduce Latino Health Disparities

Having worked firsthand with promotoras de salud, Emily Reyes understands the important role community health workers play in addressing Latino health disparities. Reyes, who has a master’s degree in public health from California State University, Fullerton, specializes in health promotion and regularly works with underserved communities to bring health equity and sustainable change through education, services and civic participation. Her interests include improving rural health, public policy, and infectious diseases research─all done with the same resilience and grit as her mother, who earned a master’s degree while raising a family as a single mom. To further her experience and education, Reyes applied for the Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training ...

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