My Top Five Most Influential Women in My Life

The most influential women in my life not only oriented me, but have guided me in pursuing my academics, my personal accomplishments, and many of my self-discovered talents. These women have showed me that creating opportunities for your community, while strengthening yourself as an individual is a fulfilling experience that has lasting purpose and enjoyment. In one way or a another, the following women will always have a special place in my heart, as well as the hearts of those whom they’ve touched with their undoubting love and work.

5. Paloma Hernandez

Source: Urban Health Plan, Inc.

I have had the pleasure of working with Ms. Hernandez on a variety of projects for her organization, Urban Health Plan, Inc. When I first started working for this organization, I remembered only one thing from orientation and wasn’t just the fire safety rules. I remember Ms. Hernandez saying that, “Whatever yo do for this community and the people we serve to better their lives is okay with me. Just make sure it is not illegal.” As funny as that statement might have been, I took it heart. In my journey and devotion to the community of the South Bronx, I have c omitted to making helping teens make more healthy and informed decisions in which ever way possible…just as long as it is not illegal. Ms. Hernandez has shown me with perseverance and dedication, you can accomplish the most unattainable goal.

4. Michelle Obama

Source: The White House Blog

3. Jasmine Maxine Nunez (My Angel) 

Source: Facebook

I don’t know where I can start to express how much I loved  this girl. Jasmine and I went wayyyy back from our days in JHS 210. She was the most sweetest person you will ever meet and when the others use to bully me, she was the one to say stop! She stood up for me even when I didn’t meet the criteria to be in popular crew as she was. We separated and went on to high school were she pursued her love of nursing and caring for others. After High School, we caught up on Facebook and remincised about the old days. Even though she hated talking about it, I often times made jokes of it and said that I was over it thanks to her. On June 12th, 2o12 I got the most disturbing message from a friend of mine saying that Jasmine was found murdered and burned in a park in Virginia and was reported missing shortly before this had occurred. I was in Miami at the time and before my trip she told me what to do when I got there, what to bring, and what to drink ;). I never got a chance to tell her how crazy my Call a Cab at Wet Willy’s was. I miss you today, tomorrow, and forever. R.I.P Princess Jasmine June 28th, 1988- June 12th, 2011.

2. Whitney Houston

Source: Tekstovi

The influential and most talent artitist ever in the history of music, Ms. Whitney Houston. Her role in my life is paramount as I discovered my new found talent of song and music through her. Her album, The Body Guard, was instrumental in my life and everyday since I had screamed and belched those songs to my hearts content. Whitney Houston will forever hold a special place in my heart for she is the one who inspired me to sing and to continue to sing to giver of my talent…God.

1. Iris Castillo (My Mom)

What more can I say…she’s my mom! I love her so much and words cannot describe what I feel towards her. She is my friend, my constant companion, my giver, my protector, my all. She is the women that has made me into the women I am today. Thanks mom! I love you!


Starting my Internship at The National Institute of Reproductive Health!


Source: The National Institute for Reproductive Health

Tomorrow is my official start date as an intern at The National Institute of Reproductive Health. I plan on staying at the institute as an intern for a long time and not just for the Summer. I really like the area of research, but I will be specifically working on a local collaborative between teen service providers and teens. The program I will be working on is the Adolescent Health Care Communication Program, where peer educators of the program conduct outreach events and promote teen-friendly workshops that can help teen service providers be more “teen-friendly.” 

The NIRH states that, “The AHCCP has shown that when trained teenagers are given the opportunity to work directly with health care providers, the teens are empowered, becoming more confident and well-informed health care consumers, and the providers gain privileged access to the perspectives of their target population.” 

My role in the position is take over the prior data entry and analysis of research from the other intern and continue to evaluate the program through pre and post-survey. These survey are administered to the service providers only, and my job is to evaluate content, enter data, and other duties as assigned by my most awesome internship coordinator Pauline DeMairo. 

I will admit, I am a little nervous because I’ve never held a position so close to Park Ave and the reputation of the organization speaks for itself in that I have to maintain that high quality academic integrity. I am excited and I can’t wait to learn so many new things. I will update you all on my first day ventures tomorrow! 

Area for New Research- Public Policies on Teen Pregnancy

There has been recent changes made to abortions laws in different states, as well as other pertinent women’s health care reforms all over the U.S. However, the role of public policy As part of my research symposium class at Hunter College, I was asked to proposed area for new research. I proposed studying the effects of social policy on the rate of teen pregnancies in the U.S. The research proposal aims at identifying certain limitations and restriction surrounding 3 key components in the issue of teen pregnancy; abortion laws, access to reproductive health care, and comprehensive sexual education programs. Research will be geared at identifying certain behaviors in the context of sexual activity initiation. The study hypothesizes that the more restrictions placed on the above three key components will cause an increase in the amount of teen pregnancy rates and births.

The research also proposes partnership with the National Institute for Reproductive Health Care as the key collaborator in this project. With their partnership, I have proposed to study this effect of policy policy using a mixed method research; focus groups, surveys, policy analysis, and meta-analysis of existing research.

If you are interested in learning more about this research, please feel free to look at the presentation below and leave your comments. If this is your field or area of work, I urge you to provide constructive feedback.

Millions in Federal Funds Cut to Community Programs- The South Bronx Demands Justice

In today’s newspaper, The Bronx Free Press, there was an interesting article about protest being organized in the South Bronx in response to recent cuts to anti-poverty programs in the community. The article highlights the recent displacement of funds by the Obama Administration to various community programs that help sustain local collaboratives that provide needed services to it’s members. The cuts are estimated to save the federal government $350 Million. These collaboratives are sustained by the Community Service Block Grants (CSBG), which are provided by the federal government that help promote financial stability within the South Bronx community.Now, these funds are being dramatically reduce and in response the South Bronx community have come together to protest these cuts that will cause many of its community-organizations to close or stop providing services because of the lack of funding.

The community-based organization SoBRO (The South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation), that provides after-school programs for youth and education development for adults are forced to tell their participants that after June 30th – they will no longer be able to offer those services to the community because of the funding.

Source: SOBRO

This is often the fate of  many community-based organizations that are small in stature and are often housed by very minimal number of employees, but serve a large portion of the community. Funding becomes critical in deciding whether these organizations continue to operate or whether they are to limit the amount of services. These community-based programs are influential and create bridges between those who lack in fundamental education and self-development. The majority of the time these centers and programs service the poor, illiterate, the young, the old, and the less informed. When you strip a community of needed resources, you strip the community of future success.

The Obama Administration needs not cut funding to needed services that are provided in the most vulnerable of populations. And this is up to us, to react to policy changes that directly affect the well-being of our communities. Without active community involvement and participation, as members, we have no voice, no say, no action. We need to promote our communities capacities and allow our members to participate in policy making that will provide needed services for them at no expense to community and to federal government.

Here is a very informative post by a fellow classmate of mine who’s also highlighting the opportunities offered to women under the new Affordable Care Act.

desi health & wellness

Preventative care enables doctors to:

  • identify health problems early
  • manage health problems more effectively
  • prevent the progression of health problems

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates private insurers to cover preventive care and services sans patient cost-sharing.

Under the ACA, insurers are required [by federal regulations] to cover a range of women’s preventive services including:

  • annual well-woman visits
  • testing for STIs and HIV
  • breast feeding support
  • counseling for domestic violence

Unfortunately, these preventative services are not nearly as comprehensive as they should be. This is because:

  • Many services are not offered frequently
  • A number of services are not included

The following chart provides further explanation.

Preventive Service


Well-woman visits Annual

Problem: Several visits are needed to obtain all necessary preventive services, depending on health status, health needs, risk factors

Screening for gestational diabetes Women between 24 and 28 weeks of gestation and at the first prenatal visit for…

View original post 148 more words

Obama Declares National Women’s Health Week 2012

This week (May 14th- May19th) has been declared by President Obama as National Women’s Health Week 2012. President Obama has declared this in celebration of women’s health by promoting positive health care among the female american population. Women’s health week is … Continue reading

Exploring the Challenges and Opportunities for Women in Business, Technology and Leadership

Even though it’s been ~40 years since the second wave of the women’s movement, in which there was a focus on gender equality in laws and culture, there are still many industries that are considered to be “men’s” fields, including the engineering and IT industries. Women in their 20s and 30s were raised to believe that they can do whatever they want to, and so there are quite a few (myself included) who studied and started to practice professionally in these technical fields. There are a variety of reasons we went in to these fields – perhaps we found that we were good at math and science and enjoyed problem solving, we realized the higher lifetime income that would be expected in these professions, or we were drawn to being part of something where we stood out in the crowd because of our lower total numbers.

But how are…

View original post 698 more words

Degradation of Women Through the Illustration of Music

Source: Lil’ Wayne with a bed full of women in his video “Bed Rock.”

Throughout history women have been portrayed as sexual objects of reprisal in various media outlets;a advertisments, movies, consumer products, and music. In the last 10 years the role of women in the music industry has vastly changed; this includes the way women are portray and idolize by the male counterparts of the industry. Females are continually viewed as adamant sex objects and are subjective to sexual idolizations. Not only through the obvious imagery of music videos with women in bikinis and high heel stilettos, but today’s also through the subliminal and conscious messages in the lyrics of songs. There are many genres that so lovingly characterize women as bearer of children, lovers and trustful friends. But there are others, that contextualize women as hoes, bitches, gold diggers, and one-night stands.

This new movement and wave of music has caused a retreat in the feminist movement that has taken years to overcome. This not only creates a barrier in the fight for gender equality, but it also creates a impediment doom for those who have already established gender neutrality.

According to an article in the Washington Post, women are continually used as sex objects because today’s music industry is solely dominated by men and men ultimately use women to sell their music. The article also goes on to say that if we do not purchase or listen to music that is degrading to women, the industry will no longer produce it. But how long will this take to happen? And are feminists the only group of females that should address this issue? In a larger context, is this issue unavoidable? Or is this form of main stream media open for change?

Source: Musica Beta- Daddy Yankee in his new music video “Llegamos a La Disco.'” This video portrays women as sexual objects subjected to the dominant ways of a male society.

Realizing that women have come along way in their fight for equality is just one small piece of the puzzle. Advocating for radical change in the music industry is another key, but not just picket signs, and Facebook pages. Creating change requires a strategic collaboration of plans to educate consumers, policy makers, and artists alike. We cannot sit back and let the music industry promote our breast and big booties as the only qualities and assets we women have.


Youtube: This new song “Trouble” by Bei Maejor ft J. Cole portrays a women in “sexy” clothes as someone who wants someone to have sex with them. Women are often portrayed like this, and are viewed as “asking for it”.

Bronx Teens Connection Launches New Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

New research has found that teen pregnancy is at its lowest in more than 10 years. However, teen pregnancy still continues to be a public health issue in that the United States has the highest rates of teen pregnancy in comparison to other industrialized countries. Here in the South Bronx, there have been many local collaboratives that have been established to help address the issue of teen pregnancy in the community. Most recently a strategically combined initiative of various community-based organizations, “The Bronx Teen Connection” has been established a coalition to collectively address the issue of teen pregnancy on a larger, community-wide intervention.

Pregnancy rates for 15-to19-year-olds in the South Bronx decreased from 153.4 per 1,000 females in 2002 to 118.3 per 1,000 females in 2009, a decline of 23%, more than the overall city decline of 11% (Teen Pregnancy in New York City: 2000-2009. New York, NY: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 2011).
Source: The New York City Department of Health

The Bronx Teen Connection works primarily in the communities of the South Bronx; Hunts Point, Morrisonia, Longwood, and the South Bronx. Agencies that participate in this collective initiative include, Planned Parenthood, Children’s Aids Society, Urban Health Plan, Inc. & School-Based Health Centers, and Community Health Care Network among other grantees.

This program is also funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with the federal Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health (OASH) Office of Adolescent Health, as part of the President’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (NYCDOH,  2012). 

This month the coalition launched a new ad campaign to prevent teen pregnancy as part of their 5-year grant deliverables. The new ads encourage teens in the South Bronx to use both condoms and contraception together to help reduce the risk of unplanned pregnancies and HIV/AIDS transmission. From theses ads teens can see that using both these methods can provide optimal sexual health in that the chances of an unplanned pregnancy occurring is becomes greatly slim when both forms are used.

New Ad Campaign by the New York City Department of Health in conjunction with the Bronx Teen Connection at a bus stop on Southern Blvd.

An article was also releases in the Metro newspaper on the new ad campaigns highlighting the intentions of these ads and providing a framework for the new initiative and what the collaborative aims at providing. Metro writes, “The campaign is part of the city’s efforts to ensure that all teens have the information, skills and resources to make healthy decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.”

Even though these ads provide teen-friendly messages about safe sex practices, some might still be in objection to this new initiative. Many say that these ads promote sexual promiscuity and actually increase the onset of sexual activity. According to a blog post by Michael Benjamin, these ads are “further sexualizing our youth and encouraging sexual promiscuity among Hispanic and Blacks.” Not only are these ads promoting sexual activity, he also claims that these ads are “misinforming teens” by saying that “…condoms and birth control together  will prevent HIV, other STDs and pregnancy. Birth control does not prevent HIV/STD transmission.”

Once again, as he also states in his blog, we have opposition from people who do not know what is to be a teen living in the South Bronx. Sorry to burst your bubble of critiscm here Mr. Benjamin, but teens are having sex whether we promote it or not. The reality is, teenagers are experimental creatures and sex cannot be put into the same categories as drug or alcohol addiction because it is apart of life. Sex is an intimate act of expression and what should be most concerning is that teens are educated, aware, full of knowledge, and can make healthy decisions on their own.

It is obvious, even to a teen, that birth control does not in fact prevent the transmission of STD/HIV. However, this ad does not blatantly say that birth control prevents transmission. Birth control is used as a back-up method when condoms fail to provide pregnancy prevention.

As an educator, I work with teens 40hours a week in the South Bronx. I know what it is to live an unplanned teen pregnancy, abortion, and the confusion of choosing the right birth control. I would have benefitted from information like this if they had existed years ago. These teens need more education, support, youth development, and creativity to stir positive development in their lives. They do not need conservative creeps such as yourself constructing barriers of uninformed and misguided politics.

I support this movement and those similar to this that are yet to come…


Fast Food Infestation in the South Bronx

The new Checkers establishment being erected not to far from the Urban Health Plan, Inc health center. This is one of the new fast food restaurants daunting the South Bronx community.

It has come to my attention that the South Bronx is infested! There is an infestation of fast food restraints plaguing the streets of the South Bronx specifically the area in which my organization is based. In less than 2-weeks a new fast food restaurant has been erected across the street from a Dunkin Donuts adjacent to an “in-progress” Little Caesar’s pizza spot. It’s amazing to see how

Dunkin Donuts located across the street from Urban Health Plan, Inc. However convenient these fast food establishments can be, they are slowly causing the community to increase in weight. With a rise a fast food restaurants we will also see a rise in childhood obesity cases if community action ceases to ha






Hunts Point/South Bronx, is one of the poorest neighborhoods in New York, but is jammed packed with fast food joints in less than a 4 block radius. There are just as many fast food places as there is cellphone stores and 99 cents stores.

This is a call to action, not only by community leaders, but by my organization who has tirelessly tackled the issue of obesity since establishing the Fit For Life Program for kids. Urban Health Plan, Inc. has continuously advocated for community change surrounding food justice in the South Bronx community. Not only is Hunts Point one of the poorest neighborhoods, but they also have the highest rates of obesity and asthma alike. It is paramount for our community’s health center to inspire a movement for food justice in the community. While fast food corporations continue to erect fast food establishments, we will continue to see an increase in obesity in our community. We cannot allow theses corporations to continue to infect our communities we have so desperately tried to develop. We can not stop at only promoting a health lifestyle, but radically advocating for these fast food restraints to make their way out of the community.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

New research have recently identified a growing trend in this obesity epidemic in the United States. According to this new research, by 2030, 42% of Americans will overweight or obese. If the world had a back, it will probably have hernias the size of meteorites. This brings me to my next point- why are fast food establishments still targeting vulnerable communities? Yes I understand that this not only allows people to access cheap and easy meals, but it also provides jobs for the community…blah, blah, blah. There are other ways of providing for a community, and this is not one of them. I am not much of an obesity guru, but I do stand up for social justice when I say that this is truly disheartening and these fast-food places should not be welcomed into the community.