Posts tagged cancer control
Editor’s Note: Apply by March 15 for the 2013 Èxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training program.
Elie Benavidez, a master’s-degree student at The University of Texas at San Antonio, already is making strides to improve the lives of Latinos. She teaches elementary-school students and volunteers her time to increase local access to healthy food.
Now Benavidez, inspired by her mother’s cancer battle, is considering seeking a doctoral degree and doing cancer research.
That’s why she and 19 other master’s-level students or health professionals joined the Institute for Health Promotion Research’s second-annual Summer Institute of Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training on June 7-11, 2012, in San Antonio.
Exito! encourages participants to pursue a doctoral degree and careers studying how cancer affects Latinos differently.
“Éxito! has given me so much more confidence than what I thought I had in myself, just by hearing everybody’s stories and the path that they took to get where they are now. I feel like I have what it takes,” Benavidez said. “I feel like I can do anything I put my mind to.”
Éxito! (English: Success!), led by the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio and funded by the National Cancer Institute, annually recruits master’s students and health professionals to build the field of those working to reduce Latino cancer health disparities.
Participants attend a five-day Éxito! summer institute that enhances understanding of: the power of research to affect change; research methods, theory and interventions; cancer control; and networking and skills to successfully apply to a doctoral program.
Participants also are eligible to apply for paid internships.
“The hope is that participants go on to earn doctoral degrees and conduct novel research on why Latinos suffer worse outcomes from cancer and chronic disease,” said Dr. Amelie Ramirez, director of Éxito! and the IHPR.
At the first Éxito! Summer Institute in 2011 and the second one in June 2012, a total of 37 participants heard from Latino role models and researchers, such as Dr. Cristina Barroso of Arizona State University and Jose Pagan of the University of North Texas Health Science Center. Participants also learned about cancer, research, culture and career options.
Several Éxito! participants already have been accepted into doctoral programs:
- Maria Brietzke – PhD in Health Behavior and Health Education, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (2011 Éxito! alumni)
- Roger Figueroa –Illinois Transdisciplinary Obesity Prevention PhD/MPH Program, University of Illinois (2012 Éxito! alumni)
- Marivelisse Soto-Salgado – DrPH in Social Determinants of Health, University of Puerto Rico School of Public Health (2011 Éxito! alumni)
- Mary Vanellys Diaz-Santana – PhD in Epidemiology, University of Massachusetts Amherst (2011 Éxito! alumni)
- Lizette Rangel – DrPH in Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston (2012 Éxito! alumni)
- Laura Rubalcava – PhD in Clinical Psychology, George Washington University, DC (2011 Éxito! alumni)
- Donaji Stelzig – DrPH in Health Promotion and Community Health Sciences, Texas A&M Health Science Center, School of Rural Public Health (2011 Éxito! alumni)
“Being in the Éxito! program, I’ve been able to see a lot of Latino role models, and how they’ve undergone a lot of hardship, and they’ve been able to do it in spite of that,” Rangel said. “Being in this program, meeting these professionals, these Latinos, and also being able to meet other students that are in the situation, they have hardships, I felt like, si se puede. Yes we can.”
Apply here by March 15, 2013, for the 2013 Èxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training program.
Armida Flores was a professional abuela—babysitting her granddaughters, volunteering at their schools, etc.—until they moved to California a few years ago.
Then Flores wasn’t sure what to do with her newfound spare time.
So the Mexico native, who was 30 years removed from school, didn’t know much English and had no career training, decided to enroll in bilingual nursing classes at Palo Alto College in San Antonio and simultaneously earned her GED in Spanish in 2008.
She also took beginner and advanced English to polish her language skills, and in May 2012 earned an associate’s degree in social work, psychology and Spanish.
“The biggest obstacle I had to overcome was to accept that I am not too old to start a new process in my life,” said Flores. “Now that I have overcome this obstacle, I continue working to improve my language and computer skills.”
She’s kick-started her career as a health educator at the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.
She serves as a patient navigator to help cancer survivors navigate the complex health care system, get emotional support, and access needed care services.
She also is a promotora—a community health worker for Latinos—on an IHPR-LIVESTRONG partnership to identify Latino cancer patients and refer them to LIVESTRONG’s cancer survivor services.
LIVESTRONG recently lauded Flores for having the highest number of referrals, and invited her to a national conference in July 2012.
Flores also coordinates workshops, member recruitment and record-keeping for the San Antonio Community Health Association, and she co-founded the Cuenta Conmigo cancer support group for Spanish speakers.
“Armida is the perfect bridge between our Latino community and our health care providers/system,” said IHPR researcher Sandra San Miguel de Majors. “Latino cancer survivors are able to relate to her because she’s from their own community, she speaks their same language and she understands their culture and barriers.
“I admire her positive attitude and willingness to help everyone. She’s got a quiet approach, but makes a very strong impact in our community.”
Flores hopes to eventually earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in counseling.
“My motivations to accomplish my goals are my family, myself, and my desire to learn how to be able to help people in my community,” she said.
The Research to Reality (R2R) Mentorship Program, a pilot program offered by the National Cancer Institute, is accepting applications by June 30, 2011.
The purpose of the 12-month mentorship program is to help build the capacity of cancer control practitioners to effectively navigate the complex, “real world” context in which evidence-based decision making occurs.
Mentees will be matched with experienced public health professionals and work on a year-long cancer control and prevention project relevant to their current jobs to learn and apply the skills and knowledge of evidence-based public health. Participants will receive ongoing technical assistance and training, virtually and in-person, from the NCI.
Learn more here.