Breathing as One: Asthma Awareness and the Power of Community Health Advocacy


Juan Roacho

1st Year MPH Epidemiology Candidate

As the oldest son of Mexican immigrants and as a first-generation student, I grew up with a phrase from my parents that remains embedded in my mind, personality, and spirituality: "En esta vida, hay una obligación moral para ayudar a nuestros semejantes por el bien de todos." (In this life, we are morally obligated to help one another for the greater good.) This trip truly exemplified how various communities continue to support each other, overcoming barriers such as language, culture, and distance to work towards strategies combating asthma and its common triggers. Throughout this whole week, our PHAST cohort interacted with numerous critical health workers and other members of the community from the east and west sides of the city. After creating meaningful dialogue with community members, it became clear that there was a growing necessity to effectively allocate asthma management resources, as well as to properly align critical health workers with the right training to address this public health issue.

Having this extraordinary opportunity to work alongside my PHAST colleagues, the South Central Area Health Education Center (AHEC), and the countless community partners throughout this trip is a memory I will cherish forever. As public health scholars, we have a tremendous responsibility to practice cultural sensitivity and to always have a growing mindset to efficiently create change in our communities, in particular for those without any representation nor voice. This public health deployment represented just a fraction of what public health is all about: caring for one another, battling racial inequality and discrimination, and continuing to push the boundaries of access to healthcare. May God bless AHEC and the communities surrounding them! ¡Que Dios bendiga a AHEC y las comunidades que los rodean!