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    UCLA Blum Center Summer Scholars Program


Program Overview

The UCLA Blum Center Summer Scholars Program is a unique opportunity for outstanding graduate students to live in a region of Latin America and work with universities, international institutions or community organizations that are improving the health and social conditions faced by low-income and vulnerable populations in Latin America. UCLA Blum Summer Scholars support the development of specific community responses being implemented in Latin American communities faced with health threatening conditions of poverty and other social determinants of health. Both UCLA faculty members and representatives from host organizations in Latin America provide mentorships for participating students.

 


UCLA Blum Center Summer Scholars 2014

In the Summer of 2014, the UCLA Blum Center selected six outstanding students to perform research throughout Latin American. Their projects and findings made important contributions to advancing health equality and outcomes in Latin America.To learn more about the work of our Summer Scholars, please click on the links below.


Click here to view a photo gallery of our 2014 Summer Scholars


Luis Artieda, MA Latin American Studies/MURP'14

Site: Salud Mesoamérica 2015 Initiative, Panama City, Panama

Project: Office of Monitoring and Evaluation

Luis Artieda is a dual Masters in Latin American Studies and Urban Regional Planning candidate placed at the Inter-American Development Bank offices located in Panama City, Panama and worked specifically with the Salud Mesoamérica 2015 Initiative. He assisted their Office of Monitoring and Evaluation in analyzing projects, operation objectives, and their results within the countries involved in the initiative.

 

Allyn Auslander, MPH'15

Site: Institute for Mexican Social Security, Cuernavaca, Mexico

Project: Risk Factors associated with development of liver disease

Allyn Auslander is a Masters of Public Health candidate, with a concentration in Epidemiology. Allyn worked with the Institute of Mexican Social Security, Epidemiology and Health Services Unit in Cuernavaca, Mexico. She focused on the association between certain risk factors and elevated ALT levels, and the effect these factors have on the risk of developing liver disease over time.

 

Ana Mascareñas, MPH'15

Site: Friends New England, Leon, Nicaragua and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua-León

Project: Examining decision making processes for seeking emergency and care options in Northwest Nicaragua

Ana Mascareñas is a Master of Public Health candidate with a concentration in Environmental Health Sciences. She worked with Friends New England, in León, Nicaragua on a study that explored the decision making process for seeking emergency services and the emergency care options in Northwest Nicaragua. This data will assist in improving the local emergency care system and ideally contribute to the strengthening of emergency care systems in other rural areas on Latin America.


Erik Peña, MA Latin American Studies/MPH'15                          

Site: Friends New England, Nicaragua and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua-León

Project: Examining decision making processes for seeking emergency services and care options in Northwest Nicaragua

Erik Peña is a dual Masters in Latin America Studies and Masters of Public Health candidate with a concentration in Community Health Sciences. He worked with Friends New England, in León, Nicaragua on a study that explored the decision making process for seeking emergency services and the emergency care options in Northwest Nicaragua. This data will assist in improving the local emergency care system and ideally contribute to the strengthening of emergency care systems in other rural areas on Latin America. 


Clint van Sonnenberg, PhD Political Science candidate 

Project: Investigating the socioeconomic and political barriers for Peruvian recipients of reparations following the country's civl war

Site: Cayetano Heredia University, Lima, Peru.  

Clint van Sonnenberg is a PhD Political Science candidate. He spent the summer at Cayetano Heredia University in Lima, Peru. Through his research, he investigated the socioeconomic and political barriers for Peruvians receiving reparations following the country's 20-year civil war and subsequent transition to democracy.

 

Jennifer Zelaya, MPH/MSW'15 

Site: Friends New England, Leon, Nicaragua and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua-León

Project: Strengthening delivery of services for women who have experienced intimate partner violence

Jennifer Zelaya is a Masters of Public Health and Masters of Social Welfare candidate with concentrations in Community Health Sciences and Mental Health. Jennifer is working in León, Nicaragua with the non-profit organization, Friends New England. She assisted in the development and implementation of a project that aimed to find gaps in services for women who experienced intimate partner violence. Jennifer's research team led focus groups with stakeholders and community members in León to assess needs and develop potential service ideas for future program planning.

 


UCLA Blum Center Summer Scholars 2013

Graduate Program 

In the inaugural program of the UCLA Blum Summer Scholars, two Fielding School of Public Health MPH students, Claire Bristow and Rebecca Foelber, were selected to spend their summers doing field research in Peru and Brazil, respectively. To learn about each student's work as a UCLA Blum Center Graduate scholar, please click on their project titles below to read their reports.


 Claire C. Bristow, MSc, MPH Student
Assessing factors to increase uptake of testing for syphilis and HIV in men who have sex with men and transgender women in Lima, Peru 2013

Research: The social determinants of sexual health and HIV/syphilis rapid tests: diagnosis and prevention of adverse birth outcome in Lima, Peru.

Study Design: The study evaluated provider/patient acceptability of rapid tests and laboratory-based comparison of rapid tests with normal test protocols. One hundred participants were interviewed to assess social determinants of sexual health; differences / preferences in testing methods were analyzed.

Mentors: Latin America: Dr. Carlos Caceres, Professor of Public Health and Director of the University of Peru Cayetano Heredia Sexual Health Unit; and United States: Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and the Program in Global Health,  Dr. Michael Rodriguez Professor of Family Medicine and Director of the UCLA Blum Center on Health and Poverty in Latin America.


 Rebecca Foelber, DVM, MPH Student
Multi-criteria-Based Risk Ranking of Foodborne Parasites

Research: Data collection to inform measures to prevent food-borne diseases in Rio de Janeiro Brazil.

Study Design: This research collected and analyzed official data on food-borne disease incidences compiled by national epidemiological centers in Latin America and the Caribbean during the last 14 years. The research team compiled and analyzed the resulting international dataset and produced a final report for WHO / PAHO surveillance purposes.

Mentors: Latin America: Pan American Health Organization's Raymond Dugas, DVM, food safety adviser; US-based mentor: Cristina Tirado, DVM, MS, PhD, adjunct associate professor in Community Health Sciences, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and food safety adviser at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Michael Rodriguez Professor of Family Medicine and Director of the UCLA Blum Center on Health and Poverty in Latin America.

 

Undergraduate Students

In our 2013 inaugural year, the UCLA Blum Center supported undergraduate students working on community initiatives in Los Angeles designed to address the health needs of the most vulnerable low-income residents. during the eight-week session, students participated in a two-pronged program that included internships at Los Angeles-based community initiatives and civic engagement coursework. Undergraduate Summer Scholars Aldana Garcia, Jessica Cubias, and Abram Cerda served as interns at the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) serving Latin American immigrant communities. Two more Undergraduate Summer Scholars, Erin Standen and Elizabeth Padilla, worked with the Saint John's Well Child and Family Health Center to support the needs of low-income populations. 

To learn about each student's work as a UCLA Blum Center Undergraduate Summer Scholar, please click on their project tittles below to read their reports. 

Abram Paul Cerda
Undocumented Students Framed in the Media

Who are they? What do they face? Why are they portrayed negatively in the media? These were just some of the questions Abram wanted to explore through his internship. At CARECEN, he had the opportunity to interact with young students from various backgrounds. He learned, first-hand, of the many struggles undocumented students must overcome in order to survive using a new language in a different country and culture. 

Jessica Esmeralda Cubias
What I learned, what I earned, and what I gave

Jessica's project spoke to the factors in the community that affect student's performance in the classroom. From poverty of lack of resources to the family setting, Jessica analyzed the importance of the environment on a student's academic outcome. At CARECEN, she along with other two interns (Cerda, Garcia) came up with different methods of evaluating students aside from merely testing. This way, the students would not feel pressured to learn. Overall, they hope to have planted the seed for the love of learning.


Aldana Garcia
CARECEN and Early Childhood Development

Why is Early Childhood so important? Aldana elaborated on this concept and the toll that poverty can have on Early Childhood Development (ECD). During her internship at CARECEN, she was able to take part in the children's development by providing an optimal learning environment in which they can grow. She also explored the Family Stress Model by Dr. Rashmita Mistry and the environmental factors that affect ECD.

Elizabeth Padilla
Childhood Obesity & St. John's

Childhood obesity and its causes sparked Elizabeth's attention and study. Environmental factors affecting food choices and habits will continue to be an area Elizabeth will research to offer ways to make changes on individual, community, and policy levels. Her work with the community garden project at St. John's provided a tangible backdrop to the value of healthy food choices.

Erin Standen
Civic Engagement at St. John's Well-Child and Family Center

From community outreach to meeting the "Guerilla Gardener", a.k.a. Ron Finley featured on TED talks, Erin reported participating in a robust set of activities. Most dramatically, Erin's research on food deserts and career future has been influenced by the summer's experience. She has narrowed her interest in health to be more focused on public policy affecting health among low-income populations.