Luz M. Garcini, PhD
Center for Research to Advance Community Health (ReACH)
I would like to nominate Dr. Luz Garcini and Ms. Michelle Garza for the UTHSCSA Starts of Education Honor. At ReACH, Dr. Garcini and Ms. Garza lead an active research group providing unique experiences, mentorship, teaching, and support to a diverse group of interdisciplinary students.
Over the past year, Dr. Garcini’s group has grown rapidly and now comprises 18 students(!), 2 community health workers, and several ReACH staff members. Special educational features pertain to equity, diversity and inclusion in education, training, and practice, as well as cultural competence skill building for working with underserved and marginalized communities. At the biweekly lab meetings, students present their work and discuss issues involving working with patients and communities of underserved backgrounds. Importantly, most of her students have availed themselves of the opportunity to publish papers in peer-reviewed journals and present abstracts at scientific conferences. Several of her students are also conducting a community service project, VOCES, on COVID-19 vaccination in collaboration with one of our Community Advisory Boards. Hands-on and interactive experiences with underserved communities are the hallmark of the VOCES project.
Often, the most valuable education takes place outside of traditional classrooms. Certainly, Dr. Garcini and Ms. Garza provide such an environment where our students can thrive by learning to integrate science into practice in a way that is culturally sensitive and contextually appropriate to the needs of the most vulnerable communities. They are to be commended for their contributions!
Dr. Garcini is so compassionate in the research that she is a part of. She serves as a role model in research in the project she involved in. She has motivated me to become a better student and to focus on what it is that I love. She is focused on helping the community and is an integral part of UTHSCSA.
Dr. Garcini is one of the most passionate, caring, and inclusive mentors I have every worked with. She encourages her mentees to find what they’re passionate about, and gives us the tools necessary to grow as researchers and as public health advocates. Her work, Proyecto Voces, is truly myriad and awe-inspiring in its scope. She really is paving the way in advocacy work in the field of immigration, health and policy with the Latino community. Her passion is infectious and she is a true role model to every one of the members in her lab. We are lucky to work with her.