Who are you?
My name is Nancy Vargas and I’m a Masters of Public Health Student at CSU Fullerton. I am proud to say I am a first generation college student. In fact, I am the first one in my family to make it past elementary school!
My parents immigrated from Mexico to America in the 80's. I was born in Laguna Beach and lived in a cramped apartment with 17 other people. I’m currently a resident of Costa Mesa. I went to UC Riverside for college. I have two other sisters and one brother and I'm proud of my Mexican heritage!
What field are you in and what attracted you to that field?
I struggled my first three years in college. I was morbidly obese, I was unhappy with my pre-med major, and I felt lost. I originally wanted to be a doctor, but after I started volunteering as a peer health educator I realized I did not like the treatment side of medicine. By the last year of college, I had lost ninety pounds and felt passionate about the change I could make not only within myself, but the change I could make in addressing the Latino obesity epidemic in my community. This eventually led me to pursue a degree in public health with a focus on health promotion and disease prevention.
How do you hope to use your master’s degree to improve the health of your community?
I understand that Latinos are not innately unhealthy, but rather health disparities exist due to various social, cultural, economic, and environmental factors. I want to and achieve health equity by addressing some of these socio-ecological factors limiting people’s choices that affect dietary behaviors of Latinos.
What is a resource or advice you wish you had before starting your master’s program?First, I think students from underrepresented backgrounds need to realize student voices from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds are needed to provide different perspectives and values for meaningful discussions and research within a graduate program. We need to value how our own experiences and contributions can further contribute to the field of public health or allied health in general. Second, don’t be afraid to take action! Nothing is going to come to you, so you have to actively seek opportunities. You will be told “NO” sometimes, but eventually someone will say yes!