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Andie Lee Gonzalez – March 2012 Scholar of the Month

CHCI-Ford Scholar

Hometown: East Lansing, MI

School: Michigan State University

Degree: Master of Public Health

I was born and raised in a rural area known as Palmview, Texas. Farmwork has always been a part of my life and it isn’t simply something that I grew up with but what has shaped me as a person. “These hands tell stories, the stories of labor, the story of our people.” These few words that my father once told me are what nurture my passion and commitment in serving those less fortunate than I am and never forgetting my upbringings.

I received my bachelor’s degree in dietetics from Michigan State University (MSU) through the College Assistant Migrant Program (CAMP) and am currently a graduate student in public health.

Since my childhood, I have seen the negative impacts that traditional Mexican dishes and food have in correlation with disease and poor health. These unique life experiences have fostered my interests in nutrition and provided me with the goal of becoming a Registered Dietician and working in a clinical nonprofit organization providing nutrition education and preventive care for low-income Mexican-American families and migrant farmworkers.

Currently, I am a graduate assistant for CAMP–a higher education access program for recent high school graduates of migrant and seasonal backgrounds. My duties require me to advice and mentor freshman in the program. As a CAMP student, this opportunity allows me to first identify with the challenges that these students face but also is rewarding to witness the difference that you can make in someone’s education.

I am a member of Lansing Latino Health Alliance an organization that provides health resources for Latinos. I have also participated in many presentations and workshops about migrant health and nutrition. For example, I presented at the Annual MSU Dia De La Mujer Conference, presented in Community Nutrition Courses at MSU, and have created cooking workshops. Soon, I will participate in the Midwest Health Forum in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Just recently, I co-sponsored an organization, Migrant Pre-health Association, which provides guidance for CAMP students interested in the health field. While earning my bachelor’s degree, I was part of Health Corps in the Rio Grande Valley, an intern at Allen Neighborhood Center in 2005, an intern for MSU 4-H Extension program creating afterschool programming in inner-city Lansing, and a health outreach intern for Northwest Michigan Health Services Inc.

I was just recently selected as a Michigan State University Research in Education to Increase Diversity in Health Researchers Scholar (REPID) funded through the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). In addition, I was pre-selected as one out of five students to enter the Michigan Dietetic Internship Cohort of 2012. This puts me one step closer in becoming a Registered Dietitian.

I am most grateful for those individuals whom I have crossed path with and have empowered me, believed in me, took the time to hear my story, and have given me the essential tools to be successful academically and personally. Because of them I have become a stronger leader in my community and will continue the legacy of “empowering” and paying it forward.