Latino Health at the University of Michigan



On Sunday, October 9th, 2011, the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center collaborated with members from the School of Public Health and the Ann Arbor Public Library to host “El Dia de la Familia Latina.” This event’s main goal is to bring awareness to the local Latino community about health issues such as cancer, high blood pressure, and cholesterol. In addition, it is an opportunity for local medical and service providers, students, faculty and community members to interact and network to find better ways to serve the Latino community in Michigan.

In previous years, this event solely focused on the specific region of Mexico. This year, with the help of SPH’s own, Armando Matiz Reyes and Wilson Garzon from Eastern Michigan University, the committee decided to change things up  and begin to feature a different country every year. This would help highlight the vast diversity and solidarity of Latin American culture. The featured country for 2011 was Colombia and the flag colors red, blue, and yellow were everywhere .

The event featured cholesterol and blood pressure screenings and resources from community agencies, such as Casa Latina, Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights, The Corner Health Center, Ypsilanti Health Center. Some of the main highlights included authentic Colombian cuisine and dance performances.

Colombian food, dance performances and Master's of Ceremony, Armando Matiz Reyes & Catalina Tobon at Dia de La Familia Latina 2011

Colombian food, dance performances and Master's of Ceremony, Armando Matiz Reyes & Catalina Tobon at Dia de La Familia Latina 2011

Master’s of Ceremony, Armando Matiz Reyes and Catalina Tobon, held a trivia contest in between dance performances, that made it possible  to win prizes as you learned more about Colombian culture and the health issues affecting the Latino community.  The audience was filled with families and with local professionals and students from Public Health, Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Social Work.

Dia de la Familia Latina 2011

Dia de la Familia Latina 2011

This event was a great opportunity for me to see how the University of Michigan School of Public Health is working to bring attention to the health issues that affect the Latino community and to interact with the many agencies that provide services to this community, locally.

Being a Latina student at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, it is very important for me to stay informed and connected to the work that is happening in the Latino community. There is a great need for Latino Public Health professionals as our community continues to grow and as health disparities continue to emerge. Read what some Latino SPH students are saying below.

Spotlight on Latin@ Students in SPH:

Lanette Garcia, 1st year in Health Behavior Health Education
Lanette Garcia, 1st year in Health Behavior Health Education

“As a Latina, my MPH means being a step closer to fully understanding the health disparities that affect my community and family. I know, first hand, the challenges that we face on a daily basis, but I can only do so much and make so much of an impact without an MPH. With very few Latinos in higher education and specifically in public health, pursuing my MPH is important because I can provide that insider knowledge that is sometimes still lacking in the health and medical fields. With Latinos now as the largest minority population in the U.S., there is a great deal of public health research out there, but still not enough Latinos leading these projects. It is also personally important for me to pursue my MPH because of my friends and family back at home who do not have the privilege and opportunity of attending a prestigious institution, an opportunity I cannot take for granted.

I decided to come to Michigan because of its recognition not only on a national scale, but internationally as well. Aside from its impressive reputation on academics, it was also important for me to be well-prepared for life after graduation, meaning the job opportunities and networks Michigan alum are offered. At every step of the application process, I felt that I received one-on-one attention that I continue to receive as a student today. ”

Gerardo Rodriguez, 2nd year in Health Behavior Health Education
Gerardo Rodriguez, 2nd year in Health Behavior Health Education

“My father was diagnosed with diabetes a few years back, and it changed the way my family lived.  Public health touched my life personally, and seeing the dearth of Latino public health workers at community events motivated me to get my degree.  My decision to attend Michigan stemmed from various interests. For starters, the school offered me more financial aid than other schools I applied to. I believe my personal experience made me desirable to Michigan and their financial aid was their way to demonstrate their commitment to diversity. I wanted to experience the Midwest. Growing up in Texas gave me a certain perspective on life; however, gaining experiences from different parts of the country makes a person more comprehensive and better prepared to deal with the challenges of public health.  My last reason was superficial, but still exhilarating! I had never seen snow before in my life, and the prospect of seeing it day-in day-out was the icing on the cake to come to Michigan.

What I expect to learn from the program is to understand the foundation of public health, and gain skills that will benefit my community. Also, there are some great people as colleagues, and I have always been a firm believer in learning from your peers. I know many of my colleagues will teach me as much as the university will.”

5 thoughts on “Latino Health at the University of Michigan

  1. I am really considering applying to Michigan this year for my MPH. Reading your post is very reassuring. Thank you.

    Are there any Latino student groups at University of Michigan for graduate students?

  2. Hi Jenny! I am excited that you are considering U-Mich SPH and that you found my blog helpful.

    You can find out about ALL the student orgs at U of M at
    There are quite a few organizations for Latino/a graduate students. Many of them by schools and departments.

    The school of public health has La Salud, which is the Latino/a Public Health Student Group. Check us out on facebook

    or check out our blog! We are just starting to get up and running for this year – we will have plenty of events throughout the coming months.

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