Students

Jazmine D. Kenny

Jazmine D. Kenny

Jazmine D. Kenny is a PhD Candidate in the Burke Health Equity Research Lab. She is interested in promoting and advocating for health equity through policy and at the community level. Her dissertation research focuses on the San Joaquin Valley of Central California, through which she will conduct (a) a historical analysis of state and regional policies and their implementation to understand how this region’s Medi-Cal population is underserved, (b) interviews with oral health professionals and their reports of the state of children’s oral health, and (c) interviews with local parents and their experiences with Medi-Cal and visiting the dentist for themselves and their young children. In addition, Jazmine has been a part of numerous research projects and has several first and second authored peer-reviewed publications with collaborators at UC Merced and UCSF. These studies include qualitative studies on contraceptive counseling among mothers who have experienced a pre-term birth, Vietnamese American families' experiences with a family-based and lay health worker approach to a tobacco cessation program, and women’s experiences with healthcare facility and provider communication following receipt of their abnormal mammogram results. Since starting at UC Merced, Jazmine has been a Graduate Student Researcher, Teaching Assistant, and now a Teaching Fellow, where she has had additional responsibility assisting professors with course logistics in Global Health, Public Health Research, Migration and Health courses. In Summer 2020, she had the opportunity to teach a summer Health Policy course for pre-medicine undergraduate students through the UCSF Latinx Center of Excellence Aspiring Physician Program. A foundational part of Jazmine’s interests is balancing academics with community and committee involvement, and has been a part of UC Merced’s Graduate Student Association as the Public Relations and Community Outreach Officer, the UC Merced graduate representative for the UC Student Health Insurance Program, Co-Chair of the Merced County ACCT (A Community Counteracting Tobacco) Coalition, Graduate Visitation Weekend and Bobcat Day (Admissions and graduate student recruitment), Merced County and Madera County Oral Health Advisory Committees, and President of the Public Health Graduate Student Committee.

Email: jkenny3@ucmerced.edu

Tashelle Wright

Tashelle Wright

Tashelle Wright is a PhD Candidate in Public Health at the University of California, Merced (UC Merced). She is currently a TRDRP Predoctoral Fellow and UC Merced Black Research Fellow. Her dissertation focuses on intersectionality, oral health and tobacco use disparities among underserved populations (i.e. older adults, Blacks, Hmong, and Latinx) in California's rural Central Valley. She received her MSPH from UC Merced in May 2018. Prior to UC Merced, she received her BS in Public Health from Westminster College, an AS in Biology from Salt Lake Community College and worked for a state health department in their Office of Health Disparities. Pronouns: She, Her, Hers.

Tashelle’s past research includes a neuroscience study of the impact of anxiety on short-term memory and exploring health disparities of African Americans in Utah. As a PhD student, she is interested in aging and cognition, older adults, chronic disease and addressing preventable health disparities, specifically within African, African American and Hispanic/Latino populations. Her current research project includes qualitative research on older adult family caregivers in rural California. She is exploring food insecurity and social support/social networks, and the challenges and barriers to caregiving as well as the assets caregivers have and use, through interviews and focus groups. She was recently selected as a UC Tobacco and Smoke-Free Fellowship recipient for a group research project with fellow Her Group members Andrea Lopez, MPH and Jazmine Kenny, B.A.

Email: twright8@ucmerced.edu

Chia Thao

Chia Thao

Chia Thao is a fifth-year doctoral candidate in Public Health at the University of California, Merced. Prior to joining UC Merced in 2016, she worked as a lecturer at the California State University of Fresno. She holds a BS in Health Science with a minor in Gerontology and an MPH with a Community Health Promotion concentration. She also earned two distinguished Health Policy and Nonprofit Management & Leadership certificates at California State University, Fresno. In addition, Chia has more than 10+ years of work experience working with Community Benefit Organizations (CBOs) and coordinated health education and promotion programs in the Central Valley. She is the current Board of Directors for a non-profit organization called Elder Abuse Services Inc.

Email: cthao45@cmerced.edu

Nhi Le

Nhi Le

Hello, my name is Nhi Le I am a second-year PhD student in the Public Health program. I am originally from San Jose, California and I completed my bachelor's in Public ​Health at UC Merced. For my graduate studies, I am interested in looking at mental health implications among Vietnamese Americans and studying health behaviors among immigrant populations. I hope to obtain my PhD and become a professor to conduct my own research in a university setting!

Email: ​nle44@ucmerced.edu

Prem Saroya

Prem Saroya

Prem Saroya is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of California, Merced majoring in Public Health and minoring in Anthropology. She is a San Joaquin Valley native. Her interests include understanding the importance of culturally relevant public health programs for reducing health disparities. Prem aspires to obtain an MPP/MPH to effectively address inequitable healthcare access in the San Joaquin Valley for minority populations through health policy initiatives.

Luis Garay

Luis Garay

Luis Garay is a fourth year Public Health/Pre-Med Student at UC Merced. He transferred from San Joaquin Delta College to UC Merced for his passion in medicine and Public health. His long-term goal is to become a physician who serves vulnerable communities that lack access to quality healthcare due to socioeconomic status and cultural background.

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