April 18, 2017, by CRCHD Staff
Inspired by this year’s National Minority Health Month theme, Bridging Health Equity Across Communities, CRCHD is celebrating mentors by launching a new series of blog posts. We asked Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) program scholars to tell us about a mentor who has made a difference in their career development and will periodically feature their stories.
Lilian G. Perez, MPH, is a fifth-year PhD Candidate in the Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and San Diego State University (SDSU). Her research focus is on the influence of neighborhood environments on physical activity behaviors among adolescents and adults in the US and internationally.
Ms. Perez recognized how being mentored by Elva M. Arredondo, PhD, a Professor in the Division of Health Promotion and Behavioral Science at San Diego State University, has positively influenced her career development.
Dr. Arredondo is a prime example of how a mentor’s guidance can lead to success. With her support, Ms. Perez first obtained a Diversity Supplement and later an F31 Diversity Predoctoral Fellowship.
In her own words, here is what Ms. Perez had to share about Dr. Arredondo:
“Dr. Arredondo has been one of the most influential mentors I’ve had for my academic and career development. As a first-generation Latina, I needed a mentor who understood the challenges of navigating a PhD program and pursuing a scientific career in a field with few women and minority role models. Dr. Arredondo’s commitment to health disparities and cancer prevention research and her extraordinary mentoring track record have inspired me to follow a similar path towards becoming a Principal Investigator and role model to future scientists.
“She has provided me with exceptional mentoring in grant and scientific writing, responsible conduct of research, and career development. During my training, Dr. Arredondo guided me in writing and successfully obtaining a Diversity Supplement and F31 to support my research focused on the built environment and physical activity. These awards were critical in strengthening my scientific independence and building a strong publication record. In addition, Dr. Arredondo’s support of my career goals has been invaluable, especially in supporting my application and decision to join the NCI Cancer Prevention Fellowship in June 2017. Overall, it is an honor to recognize Dr. Arredondo as one of the most effective mentors and role models in my life.”
“Dr. Arredondo’s commitment to health disparities and cancer prevention research and her extraordinary mentoring track record have inspired me to follow a similar path towards becoming a Principal Investigator and role model to future scientists.” — Lilian G. Perez, MPH
As a former CURE scholar Dr. Arredondo knows first-hand how the CURE program can provide invaluable experience for trainees (read our interview with her in The CURE Paradigm: Enhancing Workforce Diversity). Touched by Ms. Perez’s recognition, Dr. Arredondo shared her experience in mentoring Ms. Perez:
“I first met Lilian while she was completing her Fellowship at the CDC. I was elated when Lilian applied and was accepted to attend the SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in public health under my mentorship. When she began to work with our team, she was presented with a number of opportunities and excelled in every single of them. During her first year, Lilian developed and secured an NCI-funded Diversity Supplement, which supported her research interests in understanding the link between the built environment and physical activity. Lilian effectively led a team of research assistants and co-mentored them in their research projects. In her third year in the doctoral program, Lilian secured an NCI F31 Diversity Fellowship to support her dissertation research.
“Throughout her doctoral training, Lilian has taken advantage of several opportunities to pursue additional research studies with leading researchers in the field and disseminate her findings at conference presentations/manuscripts (22 manuscripts published/in press or under review; 11 as first author). She is proactive, professional, and has exceptional work ethic—characteristics that will serve her well in her career path as a cancer researcher. I’m delighted that Lilian has been selected to be post-doctoral fellow in the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program (CPFP) at the National Cancer Institute. The CPFP will advance Lilian’s research and career goals towards becoming a leading researcher in physical activity and cancer prevention research while impacting the lives of minority communities and other trainees.”