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Brown University’s Health Equity Scholars award will cover 100% of chemistry major’s tuition and a research assistantship.

For Trinity senior Andrea Chavez, spring break began with a welcome surprise: She received the official news that she was accepted into Brown University’s master’ degree in public health program. Even better news, she will receive Brown’s Health Equity Scholars award that covers 100% of her tuition and a research assistantship.

Chavez is majoring in chemistry and minoring in data analytics. She is a first-generation college student, Dreamer and recipient of TheDream.US Scholarship. She graduated from Oxon Hill High School in Oxon Hill, Maryland, in the Science and Tech magnet program

“I am so thankful and grateful for the fantastic faculty and staff at Trinity” said Chavez. “They all have been so influential in my life and have shaped me into a strong Trinity woman. I am definitely very excited for this new adventure at Brown University in Providence,” she added.

Chavez is currently a research fellow at John Hopkins University through an innovative partnership between Trinity and Johns Hopkins University funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. She will continue her experience this summer as one of just seven students in the Trinity-Johns Hopkins Summer Undergraduate Research (SURE) program designed to further supplement and support graduate school applications.

Chavez was a Trinity Fellow in the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) program designed specifically for Trinity students that gives them an in-depth understanding of global and regional trends impacting various industries and political systems.  She completed an in-depth capstone project on the digital divide’s effect on educational systems in Panama and Guatemala.

She is currently president of Trinity’s student science and math club, Ladies FIRST – Ladies Fierce in Research, Science and Technology, which promotes the interest of students in STEM discipline as well as enrich learning opportunities. She has organized events to bring awareness and destigmatize women in STEM and organized philanthropy events to raise money for Alzheimer’s disease. She also served as secretary of Ladies FIRST.

She served as a peer advisor for first-year orientation; president of the Commuter Student Association, planning and organizing events that brought together and supported commuter students; and as an embedded tutor for a first-year communications class, providing interactive one-on-one tutoring sessions after each class and assisting in the development of stronger learning and writing techniques, while enhancing her own active listening skills.

President McGuire wrote to Chavez: “Congratulations on your outstanding news. This is a great achievement and we’re so proud of you!” Dean Michele Bowie wrote, “Congratulations, I am immensely proud of you!! I know that you will definitely a change agent for your generation. Keep walking in your greatness and standing strong in your brilliance!”

Chavez became interested in public health as she recovered from a broken pelvis in a car crash. “I had immediate surgery where seven screws were used to stabilize my pelvis,” she said. “After that, I received no follow-up care or physical therapy. I didn’t qualify for Medicaid because I was undocumented and my family also didn’t have the financial means to access the post-op care necessary. My recovery was complicated by a diagnosis of osteoarthritis. I began to think about the root of the problem more. I decided to focus more on what I can do to change the healthcare system to best help those who need it most, those who are uninsured, low-income, minorities, undocumented, and oftentimes neglected. After consulting with multiple mentors, professors and friends, I realized that my life experiences have revolved around public health. My background and my life have primed me to influence public health and hopefully bring about programs that serve those who need it most.”

After she earns her master’s in public health, “I plan to come back to D.C. and work on Capitol Hill, influencing health policy and being a voice of change for our community. I want to bring us closer to passing a universal healthcare bill and developing programs to help black and brown communities. I have lived through dental deserts, and sliding fee clinics, and both are efforts to grant low-income people the care they need but continue to lack accessibility. My goal is to make access to healthcare more equitable for everyone.”

She enjoys her chemistry and data analytics minor because “they both make me think critically. My first chemistry class at Trinity, with Dr. Annette Casiano, pushed me to change the way I think about things on an atomic level. Understanding the molecular structure of chemicals allowed me to question why things are the way they are and theoretically problem-solve. Chemical reactions aren’t one-size-fits-all. You have to understand why things are happening to understand why the substrate yields that specific product. Aside from the jargon and technicality of chemistry, my major has instilled in me how to think about a problem and the various outcomes that may arise from it. In the lab, I learned that it’s fine to make mistakes as long as you learn from them. Professor Zukes (Dr. Shizuka Hsieh) taught me to be messy when I can afford to be messy and to work swiftly under pressure.”

“As for data analytics, I have always enjoyed coding, creating PowerPoint presentations, and making everything look aesthetically pleasing while breaking down complicated concepts. Picking up data analytics as my minor fit in with what I liked and allowed me to develop more skills along the way. From learning python, tableau, excel, PowerPoint, R, and SQL, data analytics has taught me technical skills that I can take with me in whatever direction I decide to go in. Having data analytics as my minor will also help me in grad school as we will also be required to take coding classes. I am immensely grateful for all the great professors and faculty at Trinity that have influenced my career and postgraduate plans.”

Chavez is taking “Google Data Analytics” and “IBM Data Science” as a Coursera Program Scholar through Dreamers in Tech which provides students with the opportunity to attain tech certifications. She also worked in a seven week professional development program to increase career readiness in tech through TechSet.

Chavez is also a passionate advocate for Dreamers. She completed a Summer Fellowship at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Labor Center. She was selected to participate in the 2022 Dream Summer National Fellowship Program as a Fellow with United We Dream; she was selected from a pool of more than 300 submissions to conduct social justice work and presented a workshop in the closing session to emphasize the importance of youth civic engagement in the fight to attain citizenship for all.

As a Federal Advocacy Fellow for United We Dream in summer 2022, Chavez developed a cohesive analysis of the importance of the legislative branch in the immigrant rights movement and designed a way to support immigration reforms by emphasizing the importance of youth civic engagement in government. She also led a workshop in United We Dream’s youth summer program “Summer of Dreams” to 100 students to familiarize them with their members of Congress and senators and emphasize the importance of their involvement in government. As a United We Dream summer intern in 2021, she participated in an intensive three week program focusing on social justice and the development of leadership in the community. Workshops included current government policies, criminalization of minority groups, liberation of LGBTQIA+, peaceful protests and public speaking.

She also participated in The Dream.US and Career Launch pilot program in attempt to gain better networking skills and enhance career options after college and share that information with other Dreamers. “As a first generation student I am committed to giving back to my community in sharing the knowledge I have learned,” she said.

Chavez graduated from Oxon Hill High School in Maryland through the Science and Tech magnet program and graduated top 10% of her class. She also has worked to support her college degree, at Chick-fil-A Restaurants, where she was voted Best Prep person on the team twice by management, and  at Carolina Kitchen as a line server.

Trinity Washington University

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