I have a doctorate and I am a Latino

Valentina Stackl

Valentina Stackl

People tend to avoid saying things like that. It makes them feel uncomfortable to actually  admit that it is rare to see a Latino with a PhD. Between 1974 and 2005, according to the Survey of Earned Doctorates, 3.11 percent of all history PhDs went to Latinos. 2.6 percent of math PhDs went to Latinos.  7.1 percent those awarded doctorates in 2004 where  African Americans.

But, someone said that to me today.  Edward Ramos, PhD, a science policy analyst and a research fellow at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Ramos was in town  as an invited guest lecturer in Dr. Harold Neighbors HBHE 623 Seminar.

Dr. Ramos had asked the SPH community whether or not students interested in Latino/a health issues would like to meet with him that day. We met this morning and though most of our conversation focused on genetics, the human genome, and how genetics affect certain diseases (which I guarantee you I know very little about) the thing that struck me the most was that sentence.

Dr. Ramos, it seems like, has made it one of his jobs, and in fact one of his passions, to visit students, specifically Latino students in high schools, community colleges and universities to show them that he is “a PhD and a Latino”. And that in fact, it is a possibility. It seems beneficial for struggling minority children and young adults to be exposed to relatable figures that are educated and successful. To see that is even a possibility to pursue and continue ones education is perhaps the first step to actually pursuing it.

The hope is, I think, that the more minorities are represented in powerful organizations, in teaching positions, in the government and in the decision making process, more minority (health) inequalities would be addressed and hopefully, disparities would reduce.

Maybe I should get my PhD after all.

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