Reyna Macias, MPH

USC Latin American Alumni Association researcher provides advice for the next generation of public health students

Reina Macias, MPH ’11 is a 2022-2023 USC Latino Alumni Association (LAA) scholarship recipient. She is one of six researchers from the University of Southern California’s Department of Population and Public Health Sciences to receive this recognition this year. Macias is currently a PhD student and works as an academic advisor in the department. She guides students as they navigate their higher education pursuits—as she did before, years ago in the same program.

Rena Macias, MPH ’11, has been awarded a USCLatino Alumni Association (LAA) Scholarship for 2022-2023.

Her public health journey began when she was a teenager. Growing up in East Los Angeles, she began noticing the substandard health services available to her father, who was living with a chronic condition. There were few places for residents to get healthcare and not enough initiatives around health promotion. This marked the beginning of her community engagement. I enrolled in the USC Med-COR program, which not only offered private Saturday tutoring and SAT sessions, but also provided an opportunity to volunteer at Los Angeles County Hospital + USC Hospital. Here she was, she experienced the magnitude of the health disparities around her.

After high school, Macias attended the University of California Riverside, and continued her undergraduate studies in Chicano Studies. “In this field of study, you learn about the history of our people and part of that system is learning about advocacy,” she explains. This made her realize that her background and live experience was valuable and could be a perfect fit for the public health field. During this time, she officially joined the Trojan family when she became a research assistant at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. She worked on the Children’s Health Study, one of the largest of its kind, looking at the long-term effects of air pollution on children’s respiratory health. It was here, she enhanced her research skills. Once again, I got involved in the community, and got involved with the residents when I learned about the lasting health effects of various adverse environmental exposures.

Now, as an academic advisor, she encourages her students who are unsure about their education or career paths to get involved by volunteering. “As deep as your knees are where the need is, once that need triggers you, it will inspire you to do something to improve it,” she advises. Her story is clear from this feeling. In order to better address the recurring health disparities she experienced, she earned a master’s degree in public health (public health education and promotion) from the USC Department of Population and Public Health Sciences.

University of Southern California Latino Alumni Association Scholarship Recipients 2022-2023
Rena Macias, MPH with fellow USC Latino Alumni Association scholarship recipients (from left) Julia Silva, Jesica Flores and Alberto Carvajal, Jr.

As a researcher at the USC LAA, Macias’ involvement has been further expanded. The association intends to enrich the expertise of scholars through interaction with alumni; proactive engagement through student organizations; Building networks through social and professional events. At the award reception, distinguished graduate Latin speakers, including the Director of the Global Program from Meta, and the CEO of Biopharma from Amgen, linked scholars to resources and served as examples of outstanding prospects available after graduation. The Society has created a community to advance scholars and remind them to seize opportunities, as well as support and equip them to succeed in a great academic ecosystem.

Macias is now pursuing a PhD in Higher Education Management at the USC Rossier School of Education. She believes that education is a transformation of a person’s quality of life. One of its goals is to ensure that public health careers are within the reach of students, especially those who have a similar upbringing as my own. She shares the view, “You cannot ignore poverty, lack of resources, or even the effects of poor quality education,” and these can act as incentives to improve your environment. Macías believes that investing in youth in under-resourced neighborhoods builds capacity and influential leaders who are more likely to come back and offer their voices to address health inequalities – nurturing the next generation of public health leaders.

Other USC Alumni Association Scholars (2022-2023) from the USC Department of Population and Public Health Sciences:

  • Alejandra Barreto, MPH . Nominee
  • Alberto Carvajal Jr..MPH . filter
  • Jessica FloresMPH . filter
  • Alejandra Lopez, MPH . Nominee
  • Isabella Ortiz, MPH candidate
  • Edward Padilla, MPH مرشح candidate
  • Julia SilvaMPH . filter

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