Arielle Guzman: Targeting Latino Cancer

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From her supportive abuela to her two-hour-long big family dinners, Arielle Guzman feels a strong connection to her Mexican heritage. So she knows very well that Latinos face big health obstacles. This experience, and her own father’s struggle with multiple myeloma, inspired her to pursue a career as a culturally competent healthcare professional targeting cancer. Currently a master’s degree student in public health and epidemiology at Loyola University Chicago, Guzman already honed her health skills as a volunteer at a Chicago hospital and in Santo Domingo, Ecuador. She also will participate in cancer health disparities research. Her main goal is to find cutting-edge ways to boost cancer screening, beneficial policies, and health education among Latinos. To further her ...

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Lizeth Tamayo: From Peru to Health Disparities Research in Illinois

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Perseverance is the essence of Lizeth Tamayo’s character. She came with her family from Peru to the United States at age 4, and went from not knowing how to buy school supplies to now being a graduate student and Susan G. Komen Fellow. Tamayo is currently a master’s-degree student in public health epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). As a Komen fellow at UIC, her research aims to better understand and eliminate health disparities in breast cancer. Tamayo’s parents paved the way for her, making sacrifices and struggling with language barriers to give her a better life in the United States. Now Tamayo is paving the way for her cousins and sibling by excelling in school. Her strong passion to solve Latino health disparities and break down cultural ...

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Ashton Balarin: Turning ‘Try’ into ‘Success’ for Latino Health

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“You’re not gonna know until you try.” That’s the motto Ashton Balarin’s parents used to grow her confidence, to try and reduce health disparities in her native Fiesta city of San Antonio. Balarin is certainly putting that motto to work. She graduated from UT San Antonio with a bachelor’s degree in public health, and is in her second year of graduate school for a master’s degree in health and kinesiology. As a graduate research assistant, Balarin also works on several projects, including a pilot study to reduce older adult men’s risk of getting prostate cancer by lowering their folic acid intake. She also wants to try to improve maternal health and breastfeeding rates in San Antonio. To further her training and education, Balarin applied for the Éxito! ...

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Yuritzy Gonzalez Peña: Busting Myths to Help Latinos Join Clinical Trials

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Latinos are less likely than their peers to join potentially life-saving clinical trials. They often fear being treated like a guinea pig, are scared of being deported, and don’t trust doctors. Yuritzy Gonzalez Peña wants to change that. Peña wants to bust the myths about clinical trials among Latinos, and also boost community health by promoting beneficial policies and improved health systems. Peña, a native of Salem, Ore., earned her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in public health from Oregon State University. Because she understands the importance of evidence-based, practical, and multidisciplinary research, she is involved in many research projects. Her most recent projects have dealt with teen pregnancy in rural communities, chronic risk factors in migrant ...

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Fred Cardenas: Improving Mental Healthcare for Kids in San Antonio

"I hear demons telling me to be bad." "I need my medicine to calm down." "Mom has a new boyfriend, but that’s okay cause dad has a new girlfriend." Fred Cardenas has heard these statements from kids ages 6 and younger who suffer mental health issues. Cardenas, who has spent 30 years in early childhood services in San Antonio (68% Latino), said overwhelmed parents and stressed teachers struggle to deal with these kids. Health workers too often look for a psychiatric diagnosis to medicate. He wanted to help parents, teachers, and health workers look more at the context and relationships experienced by the kids. So Cardenas helped build a program—Early Childhood Well Being (ECWB) at Family Service Association of San Antonio. ECWB intervenes early for kids ages 0-8 ...

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Sylvia L. Peral: Working Hard to Push for Latino Health

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Sylvia Peral knows the value of hard work. The native of Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, learned it from her father, and worked two jobs to put herself through college. Peral also knows the crucial need to promote healthier lifestyles among low-income Latino families, who often face issues of obesity and disease. That’s why she is working hard to boost Latino health. She earned her bachelor’s degree in foreign languages with a concentration in Spanish in 2015 and her master’s-degree in public health with a concentration in health behavior in 2017 from the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB). She has spent the past three years working on a research program to address Latino cancer disparities at UAB’s Department of Preventive Medicine. She’s also interested in ...

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Eliani Uc: Turning Challenges into Opportunities for Better Health

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“You’re never done, no matter how old you are. There’s always more you can do.” Eliani Uc, inspired by these words from her mother, has made the most out of the many changes and challenges in her life. In fact, the Mexico City native moved to San Antonio, learned a new language and culture, earned a bachelor’s degree in forensic science at Baylor University, earned a master’s degree in health in kinesiology at UT San Antonio, and now is pursuing her passion for nutrition and health promotion. Uc is currently a clinical registered dietitian at Methodist Healthcare System in San Antonio. Her research areas of interest are nutrigenetics, nutrigenomics, and their relation to cancer. To further her training and education, Uc applied for the Éxito! Latino Cancer ...

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20 State Profiles on Drinking Water Access and Quality in Schools & Child Care Centers

Access to free drinking water is not a given in schools and child care centers, although it is a key strategy to build lifelong healthy habits in children. Safe and appealing drinking water is particularly important to increase water consumption among Latino kids, who face more obstacles to being healthy, thus face higher rates of obesity and chronic disease. At the state policy level, drinking water availability in child care centers is governed by child care center licensing regulations, and drinking water availability in public schools is primarily governed by school nutrition policies, state plumbing codes, and school facilities standards. A recent study looked at state-wide policies in 20 states for drinking water quality and access in public schools and licensed child-care ...

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Elidia Tafoya: Researching Solutions to Latino Health Issues

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For Elidia Tafoya, calavera—the Spanish word for “skull”—has a positive connotation. It reminds her that opportunities in life are abundant. Tafoya is certainly taking advantage of growing opportunities to study health issues and promote healthy lifestyles among underserved populations. After earning her master’s degree in public health from San Jose State University in 2015, Tafoya has worked as a clinical researcher at Stanford School of Medicine. She manages several dermatologic projects, ranging from investigator-initiated, to industry, and federally funded clinical trials to test new therapies for skin conditions. Tafoya also has served as an advocate on a diabetes prevention program to reduce the risk of diabetes and minimize health disparities. Due to the ...

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