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Name: Silvia Inez Salazar

Hometown: South Gate, CA

Public Health Advisor, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health Washington, DC

CHCI Edward Roybal Public Health Fellow, 2000-2001

1st Placement: National Council of La Raza:

2nd Placement: Institute of Medicine, the National Academies

1. What have you been doing since you finished the CHCI programs?

Since completing the Roybal Public Health Fellowship, I have dedicated myself to acquiring the skills and credentials that are essential to serving as an advocate. For example, I earned a Masters Degree in Public Administration and was awarded various fellowships with the U.S. Department of Health in 2003 and the National Hispana Leadership Institute in 2008.

Working at the National Cancer Institute has provided me with diverse career opportunities in designing health education programs for Latino communities affected by cancer. Currently, I am conducting social science research in the areas of cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, survivorship, clinical trials, and end of life. My goals as a researcher are to identify effective methods to provide cancer information for diverse audience and to continue publishing.

2. What impact did your CHCI experience have on your career and development as a leader?

One year before I was awarded the CHCI Fellowship, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had to undergo extensive treatment and recovery. The camaraderie and examples I saw among other CHCI Fellows, the interactions with Latino members of Congress, my placements, and the professional development opportunities of the fellowship allowed me to transform my experience. As a result, I was not just a brain tumor survivor; I learned to see myself as an advocate for Latinos facing serious health conditions.

3. How have you stayed engaged in community service?

From my point of view staying engaged in community service provides me with the opportunity to stay connected. Since 2006, I have dedicated myself to community organizing in DC around affordable housing preservation in Latino neighborhoods undergoing gentrification and condo conversion attempts. I have also volunteered as a patient advocate at the Whitman Walker Clinic, an interpreter at the Washington Free Clinic, and serve on the board for various tenant rights organizations. On a more personal level, I serve as a bilingual Spanish-English language docent (tour guide) at the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

4. What advice would you give current and future CHCI participants?

CHCI provides program participants with unique opportunities to experience various careers options and paths within a safe environment. Don’t be afraid to explore issues and areas your interests or experiences in your community.

5. Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?

In the next five to ten years, my goal is to continue serving the Latino community both in my personal and professional life. In my professional life I will continue conducting social science research that brings to light the healthcare experiences of Latinos and cancer. On a more personal level, I plan to write a book about the immigration experiences of children like myself who grew up undocumented.