Campus community profiles

Meet the people leading public health in the valley!

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Stephany Diaz

Stephany Diaz

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."

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Christina Villarreal

Christina Villarreal didn’t expect to move back to her native Rio Grande Valley after going away to college and teaching in the Dallas area for five years. But in 2003, during her pregnancy, she realized that as a single mom she would need some family support. She returned home to Brownsville to look for a job.

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Okechukwu Erinne

“I applied to UTHealth and picked the Brownsville campus because it looked like they were doing some interesting research, and I had read about Dr. Joseph McCormick and his work in Africa. Just a few days after submitting my application, I got a call from Brownsville, and the faculty there have really welcomed me ever since."

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Lisa Mitchell-Bennet

Lisa Mitchell-Bennett’s journey took her around the globe and landed her in the Rio Grande Valley, which she now considers her home. Born in Mexico, she grew up in California, with stints living and working in South and Central America, Europe, Asia and across the US.  Nearly three decades later, she and her husband have raised their 3 children in Brownsville, building a life and community.

Read more of Lisa Mitchell-Bennett's story >


Maria Elena Rodriguez


Maria Elena Rodriguez

Maria Elena Rodriguez is a Senior Administrative Coordinator at the Brownsville Regional Campus. This month, Rodriguez sits down and talks to us about her life’s journey and how it lead to UTHealth School of Public Health at Brownsville.

Read more of Maria Elena's story >

Dianey Perez

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.

Read more of Dianey's story >

Dianey Perez

Ghadir Helal Salsa


Ghadir Helal Salsa

Ghadir Helal Salsa is a third-year DrPH student in Health Promotion and Behavioral Science at the Brownsville Regional Campus. Ghadir arrived in Brownsville and the Rio Grande Valley in 2013 from the Palestinian Territories, where she had worked on community agriculture and food security projects with the United Nations.

Read more of Ghadir's story >

Paola Vidal

Paola Vidal joined UTHealth School of Public Health at Brownsville in fall 2020 and is pursuing an MPH in Epidemiology. Vidal sat down to share her experience at the Brownsville campus during the pandemic and how it didn’t diminish her passion for public health.

Read more of Paola's story >

Paola VIdal


Dr. Miryoung Lee


Dr. Miryoung Lee

Dr. Miryoung Lee says the people at the Brownsville campus are its greatest asset. “It was a big change moving from Ohio to Texas. I grew up near the mountains in South

Read more of Dr. Lee's story >