Summer programs through Arizona Health Sciences University Office of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion focuses on fostering diversity in the health professions and setting students up for graduate and medical school success. Two students, Emma Gallardo Martinez and Tawanda Zvavamwe, gave a glimpse of their 10-week experiences.
Emma Gallardo Martinez is a public health major at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.
I’m studying public health for the same reason I want to go into the medical field, to close the gaps in health disparities by working with people who are often not included in the statistics. After I graduate medical school, I aim to work where I grew up in South Phoenix and help underserved populations without good access to healthcare.
of Research Focus in the Border Area (FRONTERA) the program fits many great experiences into one summer, such as volunteering in a community, virtual clinical shadowing and writing workshops. Sometimes it’s hard to do everything you need to when you’re on the pre-health track and working in a lab has been fantastic. The faculty and researchers are happy to have us there and I hope to continue working in this lab.
I am working on Dr. Paloma Beamer‘s laboratory in a research project that focuses on reducing exposure to volatile chemicals in small businesses, such as hair salons and car dealerships. A highlight of the research project was testing the air quality in beauty and car shops and talking to people.
The people in the lab speak Spanish, which is important since we focus on Hispanic and minority businesses. They need to know that their work should not hurt them. Usually, they don’t know how toxic certain products can be until we start working with them. We provide individual results for each stylist and hair mechanic so they can understand what contains toxic chemicals and can consider switching to an alternative. With this research project, there is the satisfaction of impacting someone’s life.
The trip to help with a cleanup in the community of Winchester Heights near Wilcox, Arizona, was enlightening. I learned more about how health disparities exist within a community, such as how the uninsured far outnumbered the insured. Many people in that community could not go to the nearby hospital.
This experience of talking to people and learning about the harms of health care in their community is why I wanted to do FRONTERA in the first place.
Tawanda Zvavamwe is a physiology major at the University of Arizona with a minor in emergency medicine and biochemistry.
I intend to attend medical school to pursue a specialty in emergency medicine, trauma surgery, or transplant surgery. These specialties would provide the opportunity to connect with individuals and perform challenging technical procedures, which is what initially interested me in the medical field.
When I’m not in the lab or classroom, I usually volunteer as an emergency medical technician (EMT) with University of Arizona Emergency Medical Services. Through volunteering, I have seen patients in the field before they go to the hospital. Every future doctor should experience helping a critically ill person to get better during the short time you are with them.
of Summer exposure of Latin American Indians on the frontier to research (BLAISER) the program has been a blessing in disguise. I initially focused on research, but this program had other benefits as well. It was a comprehensive experience for a pre-med student like me, from the MCAT preparation and virtual shadow clinic to all the support from the program coordinator, Genesis Garcia, and the program director, Dr. Allison Huff.
For my research project, I am working on Dr. Brian McKay‘s laboratory, where we study how to cure age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in humans. My role investigates how and why a clinically proven drug can help treat the disease. I think we take our vision for granted, and I’m lucky to work on research that directly impacts people.
Our trip to Wilcox, Arizona, for a community cleanup event left a lasting impression on me—especially the young woman who translated between Spanish and English as we worked in groups cleaning neighborhood streets.
I grew up in Zimbabwe until I was 8 and watching it reminded me of myself. I was that bilingual kid helping my parents navigate a new country. But what stood out to me the most was that even though I was in another country with a foreign language, I felt like I was back in Zimbabwe. I experienced a community struggling with a lack of resources but rich with a sense of community and love for their men and women.
As I think about my goal to help cure age-related macular degeneration and revolutionize medicine, experiences like the one we had at Wilcox remind me that even small actions like picking up trash and giving a voice to a community of small, are equally important. .