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In the late 1980s, Dora Alicia Gonzalez helped do one of the first assessments of socioeconomics and health care locations in her native Brownsville, Texas.
She even helped write a 300-page report—page by page—on a typewriter.
Gonzalez said the experience, even despite its arduous typing task, sparked her interest in public health and improving the lives of the underserved.
Over the last 20 years she has helped meet the needs of uninsured residents as part of a primary health care agency, and also fostered community-based partnerships and developed and implemented cancer education training sessions along the Texas-Mexico border for the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
Today, Gonzalez builds community health as a program coordinator at the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.
“The need of services for the underserved, uninsured, and low-literacy Hispanic populations motivate me to continue to work in this field,” Gonzalez said.
At the IHPR, Gonzalez coordinates ¡Salud del Valle!, an NCI-funded project that uses her skills as a community health educator to do educational presentations that increase the knowledge of breast and cervical cancer screening among Latinas in South Texas.
She also brings cancer prevention messages to residents via clinics, churches, cancer support groups, heath fairs and more, and recruits Latino cancer survivors to use LIVESTRONG cancer navigation services.
“I most enjoy being able to educate Hispanics about available resources and make sure that they know all about cancer prevention and screening,” Gonzalez said. “I also enjoy maintaining partnerships with community, regional and state groups.”