When Dianey Perez was growing up, she saw first-hand the contrasts between life in the Rio Grande Valley and life “up north” where she and her parents spent every spring and summer as migrant farmworkers.
“I would do as much school as I could in both places, so I didn’t get too far behind. Early on I noticed up north people had more resources. I also saw a different lifestyle than back home in the Rio Grande Valley. Up north kids would walk or ride their bikes to school, and that was just not the norm here in Brownsville.”
Perez studied emergency medical sciences in college and fresh out of school she started working at UTHealth School of Public Health in the Clinical Research Unit in Brownsville.
“That was almost 12 years ago and I’m still here, learning something new every day! I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work with amazing researchers from all over the world, like Dr. Susan Fisher-Hoch. I’m involved in research that is helping my own community. I never dreamed I’d be working at a university using sophisticated equipment, a laboratory and involved in diabetes research!”
What Perez enjoys most about her work at the Clinical Research Unit is helping the participants.
“We go out to homes to recruit participants, and because I’m from this community, this is my culture and language, I am welcomed. I share important results and health information with participants, and sometimes they just need someone to talk to, so I listen.”
Perez looks forward to continuing her studies in health now that her children are older.
“I’ve seen a change in my community over the years, including more sidewalks, bike trails and people being active and caring about their health. It’s great to feel like I’m contributing to these initiatives through my work at the UTHealth School of Public Health!"