My educational goal is to conduct innovative research that will provide the necessary evidence needed to inform policy changes benefiting underserved communities similar to my own.

My personal life goal is to remain vigilant in advancing equity and minimizing the barriers that continue to compromise the health of children in low income neighborhoods, especially those communities of color. I also hope to one day be a role model to young girls of color.

My career aspiration is to become a faculty member, help diversify the American professoriate, and conduct inclusive research.

Through my PhD program, I hope to gain the leadership skills needed to inform policy and institutions that will effect positive paradigm shifts and overcome systemic barriers.

Community = Strength

Si, se puede! Growing up I saw photos of my grandparents marching with César Chávez in support of United Farm Workers. We have buttons, flags, and paraphernalia from their days of marching in the 1960s for the health and well-being of farm workers. Because of this grassroots activism, farm workers had access to clean water and toilets in the fields, lunch breaks, and other legal protections. My family instilled in me the drive to fight for equity and stand up for issues that affect the most vulnerable.

The fight for health equity is not over, and I aim to follow in the steps of my grandparents. As a Mexican-American first-generation college student, my own lived experience provides a unique perspective I will bring into my work as an OSU PhD student. I grew up in a bilingual household in a low-income neighborhood. I understand the struggles in similar communities. Nevertheless, I also understand the sources of strength in my community, such as the resilience of our immigrant family members, our bilingual churches, and our vibrant community centers.

My family taught me that strength comes from the community.

They showed me how to connect with others and work toward a common good. I have learned from them the value of listening to others, working together, and mobilizing resources. These major personal strengths will help me overcome barriers and successfully complete my PhD program. I ultimately hope to continue to build up and work for my community. It is the least I can do for the community that built me.

My personal background motivates me

Pic of Corvallis, OR

So, I recently lost my grandmother to breast cancer. She is my inspiration. She overcame systemic barriers and became our family’s steadfast matriarch. She emigrated from Guadalajara, Mexico with a 7th grade education. Upon first moving to the USA, she saw storefront signs that read “No Dogs, No Negros, No Mexicans.” She worked hard to put her family first. When my mother became pregnant with me at age 20, she stepped up and helped raise me. My grandmother’s home had 3 generations under one roof.

With such tight living quarters, I used the backyard as my escape.

Free play was my outlet. I had the space and time to be my energetic self.

This was also apparent during school recess. My confidence on the playground translated into confidence in the classroom.

My closest friendships, love for the outdoors, and current research interests stem from these early experiences.

To this day, physical activity grounds me and helps me think more clearly. The physical, social, and cognitive benefits from physical activity cannot be understated.

All children have a right to play and reap these developmental benefits.

Yet, the reality is that children of color and children from low income neighborhoods do not always have access to this fundamental right.

My background has helped me see the need for equity in schools and society. I see the potential physical activity can have on children’s and adolescents’ development. It has helped me see work is needed to make accessible recess, outdoor play, and youth sports for all young people a reality.

I will continue on my academic and career path to produce innovative research, inform equitable policy, and work for my community.