I AM FPHLP 2015: Mislael Ángel de Jesús Valentín Cortés

i-am-fphlp-2015-mislael-angel-de-jesus-valentin-cortesMislael Ángel de Jesús Valentín Cortés is a junior at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez where he is double majoring in Psychology and English Linguistics. Mislael’s field placement was with the LA VIDA partnership at the Community Health and Social Services (CHASS) Center in Detroit. He was responsible for revising a summer program curriculum designed to reduce dating and sexual violence, and he had the opportunity to develop a support program for survivors of domestic violence. Mislael also co-facilitated sessions for at-risk youth, learning about the hardships Latino immigrants face while offering his support and guidance.

Before entering the FPHLP, Mislael had never left Puerto Rico. He says, “I did not know what to expect. I faced new cultures, new languages, new weather, and new lifestyles. I was almost 2,000 miles away from home, but I felt as if I was in another world.” Like many FPHLPers, Mislael applied to the program without having much public health experience.Mislael and cohort He knew he wanted to work with communities and large groups and felt strongly about health promotion. The FPHLP allowed Mislael to learn about key public health concepts and gave him opportunities to apply his knowledge and skills, from serving the community to conducting a community-based health needs assessment. He also learned that despite the differences he observed in his cohort, it was possible to have similar goals in mind and to work together. It was difficult for him to select a single aspect of the program to highlight. He does mention, however, “One of the things I kept in my mind the entire time was how underrepresented the Puerto Rican population is in the field of Public Health. So, I set it as one of my personal goals to contribute so that we can be more represented, and I think that my participation in the program helped that cause.”

Since returning home, Mislael has been working on a health promotion program called FIESTA Colegial, which seeks to reduce car crash related fatalities by way of drunk driving. He has presented to incoming freshmen, hosted a radio show, and organized social events and a training for students entering into the program. Mislael_Puerto RicoMislael was also appointed as president of the board for the FIESTA program.

After he graduates, Mislael plans to pursue a dual degree in public health and social work. He eventually hopes to become a university professor and do research to reduce health disparities that affect Latino communities. “One of my dreams is to increase the representation of Puerto Ricans in public health, so I would like to help create a school of public health at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez.”

Mislael encourages interested students to apply to the FPHLP even if they are nervous or unsure. He says, “The program staff are excellent and they really give a lot of thought as to who makes it into the program. They might see your potential or something special about you that you yourself do not even realize.” Mislael stepped out of his comfort zone, which led to an amazing professional and personal experience. “The skills you gain, the knowledge you acquire, and the friends you make will last a lifetime.”