Stephany was introduced to public health as a young undergraduate at what was then the University of Texas, Brownsville (now UTRGV). “I was studying psychology and hadn’t ever heard of public health until someone shared the “4+1” program where you could start working on your master’s degree while still an undergrad.
"I learned more about it and thought it sounded very interesting, since public health seemed to incorporate some of the concepts I was learning in psychology," said Stephany, "So, I applied and completed the program receiving a bachelor’s degree and a certificate in public health. I immediately applied to the MPH program and was accepted, and there too was presented with an opportunity to get more out of my studies by completing a joint degree in informatics and public health. I’m so lucky to be able to use both degrees and passions in my work now. Not many people get to do that.”
Stephany is a proud native and resident of the border. “I was born on the US side in Brownsville, Texas, but raised on the Mexican side in Matamoros, Mexico. I am a true “Fronterizo.” I love that our communities are so connected and it creates a unique culture here. Some people want to move to Austin or Houston once they finish school, but I prefer to stay here where there is so much opportunity to serve, and I can be close to family.”
Like so many from the region, Stephany spends her time on both sides of the border and is close to her extended family.
“I love how the UTHealth School of Public Health impacts the community in tangible ways. I’ve really seen a change in our area for the better. We face some really unique and challenging problems, but our work is making a difference. I am more involved with data as a Data Management Analyst, but I enjoy volunteering at the campus’ led community events like CycloBia, the Farmers’ Market and the Challenge.”
Stephany works with data from two partner clinics as part of the Salud y Vida program, a chronic disease management intervention that has served thousands of low-income uninsured individuals who have uncontrolled diabetes, hypertension and other chronic illnesses.
“It’s great to be able to help report the positive outcomes of our hard work. We have a great team of community health workers, educators and people like me who are able to help clinics and the program measure their impact.”
"In the future I’d like to obtain my PhD and continue what I’m doing, but perhaps with more responsibility. For now I’m learning a lot and so grateful to grow and work with a great team, knowing I am making a difference in my home community."