Latina Researchers Network
Social Justice Essay Challenge
WINNING ESSAY BY JOVANNA ANZALDUA
We asked the Latina Researchers Network, “How are you using scholarship or evaluation to promote social justice for Latinx, their families or community?” We are excited to feature the winning essays. They remind us that no matter the circumstances, the challenges or obstacles, we all have an important story. Stories that will open the doors to the next generation of investigators – stories that transcend geographic location and academic disciplines.
*Essays were edited for content and brevity.
Jovanna Anzaldua, Ph.D. Student in Biology and Society, Arizona State University
Jovanna Anzaldua discusses her goals to improve the reproductive health of Latinx women and families
As a second-year Biology and Society Ph.D. student at Arizona State University, my work focuses heavily on issues of reproductive health and justice. In developing my research skills and expertise, I pay close attention to the ways in which my scholarship can grow intentionally for the benefit of others as a form of advocacy. Through exploring the history of reproductive health advocacy/education-based organizations, and their work with communities of color, I intend to contribute to the improved health of Latinx women and families.
Reproductive justice is a complex and important topic that meets at the juncture of social justice and health.
Social, political and economic factors intersect with reproductive health in ways that are fundamentally tied to health outcomes. Health outcomes are intrinsically connected to the ability of an individual to support, educate and protect themselves and their families. I am drawn to this work because of my experiences, as well as those of my friends, family, and greater community. I approach this work with the intention of benefiting others through understanding the complexities of reproductive health policies, organizations, and medicine so that all communities benefit, especially minority communities.
Improved health outcomes sought through intentional research and evaluation of communities of color is key in addressing culturally specific concerns, barriers and beliefs.
Instead of using broad brush strokes to gloss over important intricacies of diverse populations, the introduction of intersectionality into the conversation and understanding the systematic factors that contribute to health disparities is a crucial step in addressing the complexities of reproductive health. Elevating diverse perspectives and examining interrelated issues is a key underlying principle of the reproductive justice framework.
Personally, as a Latina within a life sciences program, I find strength in the fact that I represent an underrepresented group within a sea of typical science graduate students. In times of frustration or doubt, I pull from this as a point of pride in order to refocus my perspective. I have not only earned my place within my program through hard work but my background as a Chicana lends to the education of those around me.
I am very aware of the role model I have become for girls like my step- and god- daughters who might not otherwise see themselves reflected in academia as they pursue their education.
I find it important to take up this space for Latinxs, in addition to working specifically on reproductive health issues within the context of communities of color.
Reproductive health is a topic that has a lasting impact on one’s life. It is critical to explore the ways that Latinx reproductive health experiences are unique and the ways in which those experiences might be improved. I hope to connect with others whose work might overlap or intersect with mine in a variety of ways. Creative solutions to far-reaching topics can only be found through exchanges with others who lend a unique perspective. I hope to further leverage the Latina Researchers Network to cultivate my own work in conjunction with the other researchers who work tirelessly to promote social justice within the Latinx community.
For more information about Jovanna, visit https://clas.asu.edu/content/jovanna-anzaldua
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE WINNERS!
CHECK THE OTHERS HERE!
About us: The Latina Researchers Network was founded to ensure the successful achievement of Latina researchers and under-represented scholars. The Network is committed to bringing awareness to the challenges and opportunities faced by under-represented investigators, to showcasing excellence in scholarship, and to building a supportive community of diverse scholars and allies to increase the research pipeline. Stay connected! Get latest news and updates via our List-serve, Tweet Chats, Facebook Page and LinkedIn Group. For more information, email us at info@LatinaResearchers.com