Richard Gamarra: From Prison to Public Health

Richard Gamarra

New York native Richard Gamarra spent seven years in prison after falling victim to the lures of gangs, drugs, and money. But he used his time in prison wisely. He continued his education and took an interest in public health, specifically the effects of drugs, violence, mass incarceration, and solitary confinement on mental health. Now outside of the prison walls, Gamarra has overcome his early-life troubles with an encouraging, pay-it-forward attitude and has earned a master’s degree in public health at Columbia University in the Ivy League. "The former Latin King gangbanger, after seven years behind bars for assault and weapon convictions, [graduated May 17, 2017] from Columbia University’s renowned Mailman School of Public Health," according to a great profile of ...

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Two-Year Colleges across the Country are Getting Creative to Recruit Latino Students

There is undeniable link between attaining a quality education and living a healthier life. The more education someone attains, the better their chances of living longer lives. Attaining better education has become one of the most important topics for all Latinos. As their population grows, more and more Latinos are both enrolling in college and attaining degrees. However, there are still barriers preventing many Latinos from attaining two- and four-year degrees. According to a story in Inside Higher Ed, community colleges across the country have seen growing populations of Latino residents in their regions. That growth hasn’t often translated to increases in Latino enrollment on their campuses, especially as overall enrollments decline in a largely recovered economy. With that ...

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Feeding Guidelines for Infants and Young Toddlers: A Responsive Parenting Approach

Latino Health Healthy Eating Research Infant Toddler Feeding

In addition to breastfeeding, research suggests that other factors that may also play a critical role in helping Latino kids achieve a healthy weight by kindergarten: mothers’ physical activity and healthy eating habits before and during pregnancy, formula marketing, maternity leave, and kids’ healthy eating and physical activity habits established during early childhood. An expert panel, convened by Healthy Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, developed Feeding Guidelines for Infants and Young Toddlers, a report of evidence-based recommendations for promoting healthy nutrition and feeding patterns for infants and toddlers. These guidelines can be used by parents and caregivers in the home, as well as be applied in child-care settings where ...

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Brenda Frutos: Fighting for Latino Health Equity

Brenda Frutos

Growing up as “the minority kid” in school isn’t easy, but it helped Brenda Frutos develop a passion for fighting for health equity among Latinos. Frutos not only earned her master’s degree in public health from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, she also is working as a certified health education specialist. She provides research and technical support in the Department of Family Medicine at Lehigh Valley Health Network in Pennsylvania, and also has experience helping with interventions in breastfeeding among underserved women. Motivated by the hard work of her significant other who overcame challenges to reach medical school, Frutos wants to continue pursuing more education. Frutos applied for the Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training program, which ...

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Akron School Increases Time for Recess

Latino Health School Recess Physical Activity

Teachers in Betty Jane Elementary School in Akron, Ohio noticed kids were restless and not paying attention in class. Although testing is right around the corner, the school principal increased time for recess 15-20 minutes everyday. Schools play a huge role in helping kids reach their recommended daily physical activity, which boosts their mental and physical health, as well as their academic performance. Betty Jane Elementary also does a "Fit Five" brain break every morning, which is five minutes of physical activity in the classroom. Test scores improved from the fall to spring semester. The students' social skills are also thought to have improved given additional time in an unstructured setting. It is important that teachers and school officials understand that ...

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Jose De Jesus: Applying What Works to Solve Health Problems

Jose De Jesus

Jose De Jesus’ grandmother had to cook Puerto Rican “mofongo” (Puerto Rican dish) on a large enough scale to nourish him and his six siblings. In the same way, a successful health intervention or program needs to be applied in order for people to receive the health benefits. That’s why De Jesus wants to tackle health disparities by applying and implementing proven programs to bring things like cancer prevention and physical activity to kids and families. He’s already helped many people in need as a health educator by working on several social issues, such as homelessness, criminal justice, mental health, and job development. The elimination of cancer health disparities is his newest passion. That’s why De Jesus applied for the Éxito! Latino Cancer Research ...

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Latino Kindergartners Start School Already Behind in Math

Currently, 1 in 4 kindergartners nationwide are Latino. By 2050, that number will be 1 in 3. Latinos are the fastest-growing population in the country and they are also becoming the youngest. However, many disparities in education exist between Latinos and other races and ethnicities. A new report from the Child Trends’ Hispanic Institute uncovered some alarming findings regarding Latino kindergartners and their math skills. According to the report, Latino students, on average show up to their first days of school three months behind their white peers when it comes to their mathematics abilities. While they “make up ground” throughout the school year, the achievement gap remains because they start so far behind. “One of the best ways to not be behind the starting gate at ...

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Shayda Dioun: Working to Prevent Cancer with Healthy Lifestyles


Physical activity. Proper nutrition. Shayda Dioun is not shy about trumpeting these two big ways to prevent cancer. Dioun, a public health student at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, is already making an effort to push nutrition and activity as an intern for the San Antonio Mayor’s Fitness Council. She also mentors kids from low-income families. Dioun is interested in applying for a PhD program and applying nutritional and fitness concepts to cancer prevention, especially among minority populations. That’s why she applied for the Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training program, which recruits 25 master’s-level students and professionals for a five-day Summer Institute to promote doctoral degrees and careers studying Latino cancer. ...

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Jackeline Ruiz: Compassion Drives Goal to Boost People’s Health

Jackeline Ruiz

Jackeline Ruiz of Los Angeles has a big heart. She learned compassion from her mother, who instilled strong faith on her and served as an example by always working hard to make friends and family feel welcome and loved. Ruiz’s compassion spills over into the tremendous effort she’s made as a health worker to improve the health of immigrant families. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in political science at Santa Clara University, Ruiz spent two years living in community and working with a community clinic as a referral coordinator, patient navigator and health educator. Ruiz is interested in working more with Latinos who face chronic health conditions, especially those who struggle with healthcare access and preventive care. To increase her training, she applied for ...

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