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Institute for Health Care Policy and Aging Research
Dany Fanfan
Project L/EARN Intern - 2010
Dany Fanfan
The Relationship between Acculturation, Body Mass Index, and Marianismo Beliefs in Physical Activity Participation in Latina Women
Karen D’Alonzo, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Rutgers College of Nursing

Dany Fanfan, a Gates Millennium scholar and peer mentor, is a rising junior at Florida International University, where she is a nursing major and a French minor. Dany decided to participate in Project L/EARN because she realized at a young age that she had a passion for research. Having participated in research programs in high school that were centered more around medical research, she wanted the opportunity to experience research from a different perspective, especially since she discovered that she had interests in determinants of behaviors in society.

Dany entered Project L/EARN anxious to learn the difference between laboratory research and social research. She quickly discovered that Project L/EARN would provide her with extensive knowledge that would aid her throughout her academic career. Project L/EARN has allowed her to work/network with great minds and those who are experts in their respective fields. Dany states that the hardest part of the program is keeping up with the overwhelming workload, but having constant and abundant social support by faculty and instructors allowed for a smoother transition than would have otherwise been possible. She not only learned more about statistics, research methods, and writing, but learned important life lessons, such as that “hard work pays off,” a lesson she feels is essential in her preparation for graduate school. Dany’s future career goals include pursing a doctoral degree in nursing and attending law school to become a legal nurse. She credits Project L/EARN with helping her develop new interests, such as extending her research topic of acculturation to other under-represented racial/ethnic groups.

Dany is happy to have been able to build a relationship with her mentor, Dr. Karen D’Alonzo and work on a project evaluating the relationship between acculturation, body mass index (BMI), and marianismo beliefs in physical activity participation in Latina women. She appreciates being able to go to her mentor for issues she had in developing her research project as well as for social support. Her mentor always encouraged her to make sure she was getting the most out of the program. Learning more about her research topic also allowed her to foster new interests in the field. Dany would like future interns to know that “this is a hard program, probably the most intense, nerve-wrecking internship on the planet, however the benefits from being in the program overshadows everything.” She also feels the program has transformed her on many levels.

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