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Margarita Alegría: Engaging Minority Communities in Mental Health Research


Margarita Alegría: Engaging Minority Communities in Mental Health Research

With over 30 years of working in mental health and disparities research, Margarita Alegría is what you might call an expert in the field. Alegría is the Chief of the Disparities Research Unit at the Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor in Harvard Medical School’s departments of medicine and psychiatry. Last summer, she was named Harry G. Lehnert, Jr. and Lucille F. Cyr Lehnert Endowed MGH Research Institute Chair. Alegría has decades worth of experience in studying public health, mental health, substance abuse, and the social determinants of health. She’s conducted countless studies on how to improve the lives of ethnic and racial minority groups and people with disabilities. Now she wants to make her research more accessible to the general public. Alegría ...

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Bobby Marines: Using Art to Spark Difficult Conversations Within the Latino Community



Art can convey a story or a message. So what if you could use art to spark a conversation about issues in your community? That’s the question that Bobby Marines asked himself when realizing he could use his talent to lead important conversations in the Latino community. To find the answer, Marines launched Voces y Visiones, a web series that features Marines’ art to lead a conversation about hot topic issues within the Latino community, with the help of the Southeast Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC) and Alliance of Chicanos, Hispanics and Latin Americans (ACHLA). “The overall goal is to use arts as catalysts for social and community discourse,” Marines said. From Eighth Grade Dropout to Successful Visual Artist It took hitting rock bottom for Marines to find his ...

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Eloísa Trinidad: Starting a Vegan Community Fridge in New York


eloisa trinidad hero story

When Eloísa Trinidad teamed up with New York activist Power Malu to help her community, she knew it needed to align with her values: ending the exploitation of animals. Trinidad is the executive director of Chilis on Wheels New York, a nonprofit with regional affiliates that focus on making veganism accessible to communities in need through sharing meals, providing food relief, and toiletries and clothing that don’t use animal products. She’s also the executive director of the Vegan Activist Alliance, a New York organization that fights to end animal exploitation. Together with Malu, Trinidad started Overthrow Community Fridge in New York City to provide nutritious, plant-based foods to people in need. By supporting her neighbors with healthy foods, Trinidad is also able to ...

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David Miskie: Founding a Bilingual, Nutritional Cereal Company to End Childhood Obesity


San Franola Cereals

When David Miskie graduated from UC Berkeley, he wasn’t planning on starting a cereal company. He actually worked for a few years in consulting, private equity, and investment banking. But after working on consumer products, Miskie, his dad, and his best friend Matt Teichman had an idea – What if we could create a product that everyone loves and make it healthier and better for you? That’s how San Franola Cereals & Snacks was born. Ten years later, San Franola is focused on distributing high quality, whole-food cereals to public schools. They’ve even expanded their labels to include Spanish, so that Spanish-speaking, Latino families can know what healthy ingredients are in their cereal. While keeping up with consumer demand and adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic ...

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Isabella Jimenez: Launching a Food App to Inspire Healthy Eating


isabella jimenez myfunfood app

Isabella Jimenez is only 16 years old, but she’s already an entrepreneur and app creator. In fact, she got started when she was 12. Jimenez began creating her app called MyFunFood in 2018. The app is meant to be a digital cookbook where young people can learn to cook easy, healthy recipes, while also playing trivia games and learning health tips. After years of planning and development, Jimenez launched MyFunFood in December 2020. It’s available to download for free in the Apple Store. “The goal now that it's out is just to try to get it to not only kids, but adults and families as well, and not just the San Antonio area, but hopefully even the across the country,” Jimenez said. From a Cookbook to an App MyFunFood has come a long way since its inception. The app ...

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Kathryn Karam: Acknowledging Your Own Bias as a Person of Color


kathryn karam

Kathryn Karam isn’t afraid to speak out against racism and discrimination. She thinks that everyone should address their implicit biases and that being a person of color doesn’t prevent you from having bias. That’s why Karam wrote a column for her college newspaper, The Collegian, last fall after the Black Lives Matter and George Floyd Protests to raise awareness about how people of color can have their own biases against Black people. Karam comes from a family of Middle Eastern immigrants, growing up in a culture where topics like politics were taboo. Now she’s a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts Amherst studying journalism and public relations, where she hopes to continue the conversation. Raised by Immigrants Karam grew up in the suburbs of Boston, in ...

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Nancy Willard: Teaching Personal Empowerment and Resilience to Fight Bullying



Nancy Willard knows that the way educators are taught to handle bullying isn’t working, especially when it comes to cyberbullying. That’s why she’s written several books on bullying prevention and digital safety, including the first book ever published on cyberbullying. Willard is a former attorney and special education teacher in Veneta, Oregon who has dedicated her career to empowering students and families to stand up to bullies. She also taught those empowerment skills to her adopted Guatemalan daughter. Now she wants to help schools build more culturally relevant anti-bullying programs, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic ends and more schools return to in-person learning. A Background in Computer Law and Special Education Before working on building student ...

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Kendra Gage: Teaching Implicit Bias and Anti-Racism in the Classroom


Kendra Gage Implicit Bias

Kendra Gage starts off all her new classes addressing one obvious fact: she’s white. That’s because Gage is a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) who teaches African American studies, focusing on the Civil Rights Movement and addressing racism in modern America. Gage believes in addressing her whiteness because she wants students to be aware of implicit bias─ stereotypes that affect our understanding and decisions about others beyond our conscious control─in the classroom. She feels it’s her role as an educator to highlight her own implicit bias and allow students to question their own biases. “My very first lecture in class, I say, ‘This is who I am. I am white.’ I mean, I can't hide behind that, so I do address it,” Gage said. That is ...

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Cheryl Aguilar: Providing Mental Health Support to Families with Immigration Trauma



Immigration is difficult and often traumatic. People who immigrate to the U.S. often face a dangerous journey only to be met with aggression and xenophobia at the border. It can lead to loss of hope, anxiety, depression, and even suicide. Cheryl Aguilar wants to help families experiencing the trauma of immigration and adjusting to new life in the U.S. Aguilar immigrated from Honduras as a teenager, an experience that helped guide her to give back to immigrant communities. Aguilar is a clinical social worker and founding director and therapist at the Hope Center for Wellness. “As a therapist, one of the things that I do is help individuals, families, and communities heal from whatever distress, trauma, or experiences they might have encountered. I believe in holistic healing, ...

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