I AM FPHLP 2019: Marina Alvarado

Marina Alvarado, FPHLP 2019

Marina Alvarado was part of the Michigan FPHLP 2019 cohort. She is a recent graduate of California State Polytechnic University with a Bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology and a minor in Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies. During FPHLP 2019, she interned at the La Vida at CHASS in Southwest Detroit, Michigan. At her field placement, Marina helped to develop and host a summer day camp for teenage girls encouraging healthy dating habits, self-esteem, consent, and prevent dating violence. She had the opportunity to shadow social workers and organizers who wanted to reduce the occurrence of dating violence in the Latinx community. She also helped recruit participants for the center’s study of how Latina women cope with intimate partner violence. Additionally, Marina was able to work with the clinic’s nutritionist to create activities for kids at the weekly farmers market, hosted by the clinic to bring fresh fruit and vegetables right to their patients. 

Marina decided to participate in FPHLP because she wanted to learn more about public health as a field. Marina always knew she had an interest in health promotion, but she did not really know what career or research opportunities were available under this umbrella. As a biotechnology major, a lot of her courses might have had a slide or bullet point on the public health applications of her studies, but there was not much depth on the topic. The association with the CDC also interested to Marina because it is such a well established institution and the chance of being associated with them seemed really exciting. 

Marina describes FPHLP as one of the most fulfilling experiences of her college career. From meeting and interacting with SPH faculty and staff to making friends from across the country, the entire program was an amazing experience. By far, the greatest highlight of her summer were the memories made with her peers, many of them she is still in close contact with. It was really fulfilling for her to be surrounded by people with not only common goals but also a common history and shared experiences. Marina had so much fun living in Ann Arbor and forming a home away from home with her friends.

As a participant Marina had to battle many feelings of imposter syndrome. Many of her cohort members were public health majors and there were many moments where she felt like she didn’t know as much as them or that she was falling behind. To get through this, Marina learned how to ask for help. She got comfortable saying “I don’t know, could you please explain?” She asked questions and relied on her peers. Knowing that all of the FPHLPers were there to support each other made Marina really comfortable being more vulnerable with everyone. 

Since returning from FPHLP, Marina has worked on developing herself as a student and getting more experience within the field. She completed a research study on how first-generation student leaders manage their health and well-being, and she is working on publishing this research now. Marina is currently working on a research project about how femmes experience the mental healthcare system in the United States. She works as a Peer Health Educator at her university’s wellness center where she is able to teach other students about various health topics, including sleep, nutrition, physical activity, and sexual health. Marina plans on graduating this spring and working in mental health advocacy after graduating. 

Marina’s main goal when joining FPHLP was to learn more about public health and she was able to do that. Her future plans are to go to nursing school, and eventually become a nurse practitioner, working in underserved communities bringing awareness to, and hopefully reducing, health disparities. 

Marina's best advice for someone considering applying is to apply. Do not be the person to tell yourself no. Even if you are unsure about public health, apply. You will learn a lot about yourself and your goals during the application process, making it worth it.