Assistant Professor (PhD), University of Nevada Reno, School of Community Health Sciences
Originally from Espanola, a small town in Northern New Mexico, childhood play concluded when the neighborhood streetlights turned on. While outdoor adventure was common, it was limited to bike riding, playing games like tag, hide-n-go-seek, roller-skating, and camping in the mountains from time to time. Snow and water sports were reserved for “other people” meaning those with money who resided in the more affluent areas that surrounded my town. I came to realize from my personal experiences as a participant in RezRIDERS that extreme sports didn’t belong to anyone; rather I learn to accept that some groups of people simply lack opportunities to participate in certain experiences. The value of engaging with youth and mentors through this program opportunity was life altering. RezRIDERS provides a sense of belonging, worth, and achievement, it reinforced the belief of “Yes, I can!”
In my professional life as a health researcher and assistant professor, I can tie theory and scientific methods to these feelings. As a person, I know the RezRIDERS program changes lives permanently by strengthening the hearts of people. I am honored to be a directing board member charged with nurturing this program so that others may experience what I have. I work for this program to be one that every community can embrace as its own.
Prior to my current position at the University of Nevada-Reno, I was a Research Assistant Professor at the University of New Mexico-School of Medicine, and Director of Research & Evaluation with the University of New Mexico, Health Sciences Center-Office for Diversity. My research focuses on health inequities, diversity and inclusion; with external funding from the National Institutes for Health for research involving Dissemination & Implementation science strategies in partnership with the National Congress of American Indians-Policy Research Center. I am an established mixed-methods researcher utilizing community based and tribally-driven participatory research approaches for engagement with communities of color, and other underserved and under represented communities; with recognition of community knowledge, history and context as key strengths that are key to producing meaningful benefit through the work I do.