Jennifer Valdivieso: True Grit for Improving Life for the Homeless

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Jennifer Valdivieso has a lot of grit.

In fact, she left a job she felt was morally wrong and did a complete 180.

Today you will find Valdivieso speaking up for human rights, stable housing, and transportation to improve health among individuals experiencing homelessness.

Valdivieso is currently pursuing a dual-master’s-degree in social work and public health at Howard University in Washington, D.C. She works as the program specialist for the homeless outreach program with the D.C. Department of Behavioral Health.

Valdivieso hopes to blend her dual degree to help reduce health disparities for individual experiencing homelessness with chronic disease.

To further her experience and education, Valdivieso applied for the Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training program.

The Éxito! program, led by Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez at UT Health San Antonio with support from the National Cancer Institute, recruits 25 master’s-level students and professionals each year for a five-day summer institute, optional internships, and ongoing networking and support to promote doctoral degrees and careers in Latino cancer. A recent study found significant increases in summer institute participants’ confidence to apply to a doctoral program and academic self-efficacy.

“I am filled with love and gratitude for the [Éxito!] experience and to be surrounded by people with shared interests,” Valdivieso said. “I was most impacted by in being surrounded by accomplished, driven, intelligent, and resilient students, staff, and professionals.”

“I feel empowered to apply for a doctoral program following the completion on my masters; I’ve started to speak it into existence.”

Valdivieso has this advice for next year’s Éxito! cohort:

“You are part of an incredible family of striving Latinos; know that you have a network across the country rooting for your success. Know that we are the leaders of tomorrow and that you impact the lives around you- even when you’re not looking. You are our ancestors’ dreams come to life; live and work to validate their sacrifices.”

Editor’s Note: This is the story of a graduate of the 2019 Èxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training program at UT Health San Antonio, the headquarters of the Salud America! program. Apply now for Èxito! 2020.