I AM FPHLP 2017: Kassandra González

Kassandra GonzálezKassandra González was part of the 2017 FPHLP cohort. She is currently a junior attending Texas A&M University, where she majors in Biomedical Sciences and minors in Communications. During her time in FPHLP, Kassandra worked with the Corner Health Center in Ypsilanti, MI. She researched popular topics in adolescent health and wrote blogs to share them with the community. Kassandra also looked at the health benefits of fresh produce and used her design and communications background to create recipes for patients, as well as promote CHC's available services and programs.

Kassandra loved that FPHLP gave her an opportunity to see the accomplishments of other students and professors of color. She particularly enjoyed listening to Dr. Brisa N Sanchez speak about the challenges she faced as a Latina in STEM. Kassandra appreciated Dr. Sanchez's transparency as she shared the struggles and accomplishments that came with her journey as a professional.

Before participating in FPHLP,  it was difficult for Kassandra to keep an open mind when conversing with people who held different views. FPHLP participants come from diverse backgrounds. Although students in her cohort held different opinions, they all shared similar passions. Everyone had experiences that shaped their perspectives, and this helped Kassandra become more open-minded. As she began bonding with her FPHLP family, Kassandra experienced 'aha!' moments and saw how students' past experiences shaped their values, goals, and fields of interest.

Since completing the program, Kassandra has started serving as this year's Vice Chair of the Student Conference on Latinx Affairs (SCOLA). The annual conference addresses issues affecting minorities in the country. "After many constructive conversations with my peers and mentors," Kassandra says, "I've returned to Texas A&M with the ganas or motivation to inspire change in my community and empower others through SCOLA."

In the future, Kassandra hopes to serve in third world countries through the Peace Corps. After that, she plans to work on her MPH in Epidemiology and explore the interactions between human, veterinary, and environmental health. Kassandra believes that FPHLP gives participants confidence in themselves, both as individuals and as students. Even though students may not have a set path in front of them, the program helps them realize that the possibilities are endless.

"Don't let this opportunity slip by," Kassandra says. She encourages everyone to apply because there is so much to learn about yourself that you don't know today. "Stepping out of your comfort zone is one of the best ways to do this, and the learning doesn't end there. What do I need to improve? How can I develop this professional skill? Who can help me in the process? These are all questions that FPHLP will help you answer!"