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Institute for Health Care Policy and Aging Research
Samia Ortiz-Hernandez
Project L/EARN Intern - 2008
Samia Ortiz-Hernandez
The relationship between socioeconomic status and categories of nervios
Peter Guarnaccia, Ph.D.
Department of Human Ecology

Samia Ortiz-Hernandez is a native of Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, she attends the University of Puerto Rico where she is a rising junior majoring in Psychology. At UPR she is member of the NIMH-COR (Career Opportunities in Research Training and Education) program and was required to apply to at least 15 summer research programs. Under the guidance of her program coordinator Samia decided that the opportunity to participate in Project L/EARN was one she could not pass up. Samia admits that it was a challenge adapting to the new culture, but she is glad she came and believes the program will pay off more than any other program she might have participated in. About the work, Samia says the program is really intense and its description cannot live up to the experience.

Samia’s participation in Project L/EARN was preceded by the reputation of her mentor Dr. Peter Guarnaccia. In regard to her mentor selection Samia says: “{I} was not disappointed at all! I knew that I was going to work with one of the best researchers in the field.” She credits Dr. Guarnaccia not only with helping her become a better researcher but also with helping her get through the challenge of getting accustomed to a new environment. The topic of Samia’s current project is various categories of nervios, a problem she says is very common in her native land of Puerto Rico. Upon exploring possible topics, she expressed her surprise that it was possible to scientifically study such a common issue.

Samia’s passion is community service. At home she volunteers with her church every weekend in community service activities for the homeless, elderly, and abandoned children. Through her community service she has realized that the poor have definite opinions on how they would change their own lives. During her time at Project L/EARN Samia was introduced to CBPR (Community Based Participatory Research), which she says she didn’t know much about. Her own experience with community service has taught her the importance of community activity in research, and she now knows CBPR will be the focus of her research methodology. Samia plans to go on to earn a Psy. D. or Ph. D. in psychology.

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