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2021 Community Health Scholars Winner



Congrats to our 2021 Community Health Scholar Winner Kayri Garcia, gender pronouns she/her. This award recognizes her work, and comes with a cash prize of $1,000!


Kayri currently attends the University of California, Merced, pursuing a Critical Race and Ethnic Studies major. The goal of Kayri's project is to destigmatize mental health treatment and bring awareness to the negative impact it has on young Latinx men that have machista attitudes towards professional treatment. She wants to bring to light cultural topics like social norms, discrimination, and related stigma that prevent Latinx men from actively seeking help, especially the lack of research on queer, bisexual, Latinx men's mental health issues. She believes there are sociocultural correlates of emotional distress that need to be addressed so that there can be adequately trained professionals who understand this demographic's socio-cultural context and also find a way to make resources more accessible to the public.


About the Program:


The Community Health Scholars is a 6-week research and guidance program in which students receive a comprehensive understanding of Health topics, Community Based Research and Community Engagement. It enables students and community partners to conduct meaningful research that addresses community-identified needs. Students get the opportunity to explore their curriculum topic and draw solutions and recommendations from the findings. The staff assists scholars via weekly classroom sessions, sharing their knowledge about research construction, community health topics, and networking with existing community organizations and resources. At the end of the program, we hold a Community Health Symposium, where we let scholars present their projects and announce one grand prize winner.


Kayri came up with her project idea after a meeting with the local head of Health Promoters in her town, Promotora Rosa. She explored various mental health resources provided in her area and found out which demographic either used them, needed them, or neglected them the most. Promotora Rosa emphasized how Latinx communities were the most in need of mental health resources but the least likely to actively search for and use such services. They pinpointed the reasons this may be and from there on out, the project blossomed.


Connecting with other scholars and guest speakers who share their own real-life experiences with their work were a few of Kayri’s most valuable highlights of the program. These relationships allowed her to develop her approach to the research, thus developing her project as a whole.


Without a doubt, Karyi would recommend her Central Valley peers to apply to the program, because it’s an opportunity for young people like her to gather research experience while also working to give back to the community.


If she could summarize her experience with Community Health Scholars, she’d say “it can feel tough at times, but the time you spend learning and engaging in the work you do throughout the program makes it worth it because your community’s health is important.”


Honorary Mentions:



Jasmine Ma is a rising sophomore at University of California, Davis majoring in Biological Sciences. In her free time, she enjoys reading by the pool or spending time with friends. She also spends her weekends volunteering at clinics and doing street outreach. She plans to attend medical school and become a physician, coming back to the Central Valley to serve her community.


Jasmine's project aims to highlight survivors' positive experiences at domestic violence agencies in the Central Valley while also identifying any shortcomings. The thoughts, opinions, and feelings gathered from her survey responses hopes to help organizations improve their services in order to fully meet the needs of the communities they serve.


You can view Jasmin's project here.


Bryan is from Merced, California, and he is currently attending the University of California, Davis where he is studying Genetics & Genomic and Chicana/o/x Studies with a minor in Public Health. Bryan hopes to one day become a pediatrician and be able to integrate public health principles to be able to provide inclusive healthcare for the well-being of children from birth until the age of 18. In particular those within marginalized communities— BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ folks. As a Latinx, Queer, and first-generation identifying college student, Bryan hopes to advocate, promote, and emphasize the importance of queer health and the impact it has in the mental health of folks who identify as being part of BIPOC communities within the Central Valley.

Bryan's project aims to address the lack of resources and the lack of advocacy/promotion of mental health for queer folks that originate and/or reside in the Central Valley. The goal is to move forward in bringing awareness and be inclusive of queer folks to help contribute to the wellness that is received through mental health resources and the accessibility of queer mental health resources.


You can view Bryan's project here.


Veronica Reyes is 28 years old and resides in Modesto, California. She currently attends Delta College in Stockton, majoring in Sociology with an emphasis in Public Health, and will be starting the transfer process next semester. She joined the Community Health Scholars program with the aspirations to continue to conduct Public Health research as she moves forward in her academic and professional career.


Veronica's project aims to bridge the gap in sex education in the Central Valley. She hopes to use the data collected to educate the community in various ways. She hopes to especially use the data to facilitate discussions around the topic of consent to help prevent sexual assault/domestic violence and aid survivors.


You can view Veronica's project here.



Yusdivia originates from Winton, California and is a recent graduate from Atwater High School. She will be attending California State University, Stanislaus this upcoming fall semester. Her passions include learning and teaching what she calls “real history”. Her aspirations in pursuit of the Community Health Scholars program and higher education is to venture into research to unearth different realities that are dismissed amongst public school systems in the Central Valley.


Yusdivia's project goal is to determine whether or not schools are giving students the proper resources they need to have a safe and healthy sex life through Health Education. She evaluates the quality and content of individuals' sexual health education via surveys.


Your can view Yusdivia's project here.


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