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Home | Tag Archives: utep students

Tag Archives: utep students

Assistant Secretary for Health Says All Students Can Contribute to Public Health

When Admiral Brett P. Giroir, M.D., first stood up in front of an audience at the Undergraduate Learning Center, it was clear that he was prepared to deliver a message that was very important to him.

It was simple, straightforward, but also ambitious: he said there was a need to transfer our public health system from a sick care system to a health promotion system.

Assistant secretary for health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Giroir leads the development of HHS-wide public health policy recommendations and oversees 11 core public health offices, three presidential and 11 secretarial advisory committees.

Giroir was the first physician to be appointed as an office director at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Prior to those roles, the first-generation college student cared for critically ill children for 14 years as a pediatric critical care physician.

Giroir began his presentation on a positive note by showing a graph of the increase in life expectancy in the U.S. from 1900 to 2015. He attributed the increase to improvements in disease treatment and care for accident victims.

Then, the tone of Giroir’s presentation became somber. The admiral said that from 2015 to 2017, life expectancy decreased in the U.S. – something that hadn’t happened since the flu pandemic in the early 1900s. For the first time in decades, our children may live shorter lives than we do, he said.

Giroir showed other charts highlighting the high number of HIV cases nationally and treatment expenditures; statistics on drug abuse, misuse and overdose; and predictions on obesity rates in the U.S.

Next, Giroir posed questions that he says he often asks himself – What do we do? Is there an opportunity to move forward? The solution, Giroir said, is not medical care per se, but public health.

“I want all the students to understand how critically important everyone is in this game,” Giroir said. “The future of medicine is as much about engineering, physics and math as it about biology.”

Giroir said there is a role for anyone interested in public health, whether its social science to understand how people can change their eating behaviors or communication and journalism to help get the word out.

It was a message that resonated with many of the students in the crowd, including Prya Darshni, a UTEP doctoral student studying electrical engineering. Currently, Darshni is working on her dissertation that involves antennas for radars, but with newfound inspiration, she has a new goal for after graduation. She is planning to contribute to the medical field by developing biomedical instruments.

“I can make some contributions to this field because it is very inspiring,” Darshni said. “Even though I am (studying) electrical engineering, that is something I can do. I cannot prescribe medicines, but I can do this. I can use my engineering skills and develop instruments that will help improve medicine.”

Giroir’s overall message focused on the need to prioritize public health innovation. He called it the need for an “internet moment” when it comes to public health. He then showed a sketch of a diagram on a piece of paper. The diagram showed an early image of an idea that soon grew to develop the world wide web. He turned again to the audience, specifically the students, telling them to get involved and use their talents for public health.

“Public health is not just an option,” Giroir said. “Public health is the most important issue of our country moving forward in the next few decades. So I really urge a public health consideration to be in curriculum, whether in engineering, teaching, social sciences, medicine, biology, because everybody has a role in this. Because if we leave out some of those blocks, we’re not going to get there.”

John Ciubuc, a doctoral student in biomedical engineering, agreed with Giroir’s idea that public health needs to be addressed through different perspectives. Ciubuc compared the human body to programming and how the two are approached in nearly identical ways.

“All these underlying systems, (Giroir) brought them to the forefront and showed everybody where these systems are, how you can put yourself into the system and start influencing it in a positive way,” Ciubuc said.

Giroir visited The University of Texas at El Paso Thursday, March 28 as part of the ongoing Centennial Lecture Series.

The Centennial Lecture Series invites noteworthy speakers to the UTEP campus to share their perspectives on a broad range of contemporary issues that are likely to impact our society, culture and lives in the years ahead.

The next featured speaker is Doma Tshering, the ambassador of Bhutan, who will speak at 4:30 p.m. April 2 at the Tomás Rivera Conference Center on the third floor. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Author:  Jesse Martinez – UTEP Communications

Vocation Vacations: UTEP Students Share Summer Experiences

Summer for many UTEP students is about more than kicking back and relaxing. Those who aren’t enrolled in summer courses may take advantage of internships or study abroad/study away experiences that help them expand their perspectives, gain experience in their chosen field and make contacts for their futures.

It is a question that dates back generations to the one-room school houses: What did you do during your summer vacation? Dozens of Miner undergraduate and graduate students answered the call to reflect on what they did to expand and enhance their academic and professional paths, from internships and study abroad programs to research experiences.

Participants wrote about what they saw and who they met around the country and overseas. While some said the experiences reinforced their plans, others said their efforts uncovered new options worth considering.

Betsabe “Betsy” Castro-Duarte, director of the University Career Center, said students who participate in internships and study abroad opportunities come back more energized and excited to complete their studies.

“They got to apply their knowledge in a real-world setting,” Castro-Duarte said. “Their career goals have become more concrete, and that experience will give them an edge after they graduate.”

The career center director alluded to the University’s new UTEP Edge initiative, where students are encouraged to participate in high-impact experiences such as internships, research and study abroad that will enhance their academic journey and make them more marketable when they apply for jobs or graduate or professional schools.

For those Miners who did participate in an experience this summer related to their academic or career goals, many felt well prepared in the subjects and as critical thinkers to answer the challenges in the respective labs, offices and classrooms.

They were exposed to new concepts and techniques, and some returned with a renewed respect for “soft skills” such as communication, independence and organization. All came back a little worldlier in their perspectives and grateful for the opportunity.

Here are a few of their stories, in their own words.


Vicente Cobos: Studying Infants in Panama

Senior, Health Promotion and Psychology

“I went to Panama City, Panama, for seven weeks as part of a UTEP internship program, Minority Health International Research Training. The goal of my research was to better understand the social determinants of health in Panama and their impact on infants in the areas of cognition, language and motor skills. It was amazing to be part of the research team. It reinforced my passion in health promotion to educate communities so that residents can reach optimal health.”

Read Vicente’s story here

Sairy Cohen Cruz

Sairy Cohen Cruz: Crafting Cyber Security for NASA

Junior, Computer Science

“I had the privilege to be a NASA intern at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Cape Canaveral, Florida … I worked with the cyber security branch, where in addition to having hands-on experience, which allowed me to develop security information, event manager reports, and analyses to protect KSC’s next Launch Control System … As a Hispanic student, it was an honor for me to represent The University of Texas at El Paso.”

Read Sairy’s story here

Dina Edens

Dina Edens: Functional Work Designs for Ceramics

Senior, Studio Arts

“This two-week workshop was a complete hands-on experience in which students learned about functional work design and the consideration of all of the elements that make a pot … We learned new techniques that opened our eyes to important decisions we need to address as we think of how to design a functional ceramic item. That includes learning the kinds of tools we will need to produce and fabricate them ourselves.”

Read Dina’s story here


Jesus Lopez: Growing in the Competitive Field of Theater

Senior, Theater Arts

“As an international student from Mexico, the fact that I had the opportunity to travel all the way to Massachusetts to work in the industry that I love and gain professional experience at such a young age is still an incredibly satisfying and fulfilling surprise … I could probably describe this internship as … a series of real-life trials to prove to myself that I can be who I want to be.”

Read Jesus’s story here

Humberto Perez Monge

Humberto Perez Monge: Serving the Underserved With Mental Disorders

Graduate Student, Mental Health Counseling

“I provided individual and family therapy from May to August 2017 at Family Service of El Paso. The experience allowed me to apply the theory and skills I learned as a graduate student to deal with people who had a wide array of mental disorders. Providing treatment to underserved clients who otherwise would not be able to afford it is something that makes me proud to have worked with Family Service.”

Read Humberto’s story here

Paola Perez

Paola Perez: Nano Research for Tomorrow’s Breakthrough

Junior, Electrical Engineering

“This summer I had the privilege of participating in the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at The University of Texas at Austin. I conducted research on nanotechnology for 10 weeks in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering … It helped me combine my passion for science in the nanoscale along with the exploration of new technologies.”

Read Paola’s story here

Briana Pinales

Briana Pinales: Seeking Diversity Through Neuroscience

Doctoral Student, Pathobiology

“This summer I participated in the Summer Program in Neuroscience, Excellence and Success (SPINES) at the Marine Biology Laboratory in Woodshole, Massachusetts. SPINES focuses on professional development for those who are interested in a scientific academic career … SPINES is unique because it focuses on the lack of diversity in the scientific community. As a Hispanic female paving a path into a career in neuroscience, it was invigorating to see other successful scientists persevere through similar issues.”

Read Briana’s story here

Luz Porras

Luz Porras: Studying Forensic Science in Scotland

Senior, Biological Sciences

“The opportunity to study aboard was great, but to experience the food, culture and work environment of another country made the experience unbelievable … In the labs, we analyzed fingerprints, drugs, hair, fiber and DNA. In the classrooms, we learned about ballistics, chemistry analysis, the law and the criminal justice system … This experience made me more knowledgeable about forensic science and more aware of the importance of teamwork, patience and communication.”

Read Luz’s story here

Hugo A. Rodriguez Gonzalez

Hugo A. Rodriguez Gonzalez: Learning from Boeing and Stanford

Junior, Finance

“My summer consisted of being one of the few Hispanics who interned as a procurement financial analyst with … The Boeing Company. I also was among the students selected from a national pool to participate in the Stanford MBA Future Leaders Program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business … From May to August, I developed myself as a person, student and professional.”

Read Hugo’s story here


Karla Vidrio: Diabetes Research in Costa Rica

Senior, Nursing

“I had the opportunity to be part of the Minority Health International Research Training program in San Jose, Costa Rica. My research was focused on glycemic control among men and women diagnosed with diabetes, according to their level of education. This experience made me realize the importance of health research because it helps develop evidence-based practices and leads to better health … Now my goal is to earn a Ph.D. in nursing and continue doing research to improve the delivery of care.”

Read Karla’s story here

UTEP Announces Changes to Campus Drop-off Sites; Area Construction Updates

UTEP Miners used to being dropped off between the University Bookstore and the Sun Bowl Parking Garage (PG-1) will be redirected to an official campus drop-off/pickup point in the nearby S-3 parking lot at the southwest corner of University Avenue and Sun Bowl Drive.

The University also has relocated a Miner Metro shuttle stop to Miner Alley across from the Fox Fine Arts Center from its previous spot in front of PG-1. An electronic traffic control gate will be installed on the road between the bookstore and PG-1 just beyond the visitors’ parking entrance.

The changes will enhance pedestrian safety and traffic flow in the area, said Greg McNicol, associate vice president for business affairs – facilities management.

UTEP has several official drop-off/pickup sites strategically placed around campus. They are the southeast corner of Rim Road and Hawthorne Street, and the following parking lots: P-4 (Schuster Avenue and Prospect Street either at Prospect or close to the pathway under the roundabout), P-5 (Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts), S-5 (at Randolph Drive and Robinson Avenue near Kidd Field), and P-12 (Oregon Street and Robinson Avenue). There also is a second drop-off zone in S-3 close to the pedestrian bridge stair/elevator tower.

The campus community can expect all lanes of traffic to re-open on Oregon Street between University Avenue and Glory Road before the start of school on Aug. 22, 2016. Oregon Street also will re-open to northbound and southbound traffic between University Avenue and Schuster Avenue by Aug. 22; however, lane restrictions will remain in place there. Lane restrictions also will remain in place on University Avenue at Oregon.

Parts of Oregon Street had been closed at different times since February 2016 so contractors could relocate utilities, place rail, and repave sections of the street as part of the El Paso Streetcar Project. Construction of the El Paso Streetcar Project is being managed by the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority (CRRMA).

“The University appreciates the hard work done by the CRRMA and its contractor to meet their schedule while respecting the needs of the campus community,” McNicol said.


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