Spotlight - Alexandra A. Thomas
I am a seventeen-year-old native Californian who is a senior at The Bishop’s School in La Jolla. I am bilingual in Spanish and a member of the Spanish Honor Society. I have been an honor roll student through my primary and secondary education with a current weighted GPA of 4.4. Throughout my high school career, I have directed my curriculum toward aspirations of becoming a physician. Coming from a family of health professionals, I have come to appreciate the level of knowledge required to attain this goal as well as the importance of contributing to further this knowledge. To this end, my present focus is on research.
My initial encounter in public health involved working alongside Dr. Adeline Nyamathi and her team at UCLA, School of Nursing. I was fortunate to assist her in authoring two papers, both currently under review: “Art Messaging as a Medium to Engage Homeless Youth” and “Perceptions about the Engagement of Lay Village Women in India to Provide Basic Care and Support to Rural Women Living with HIV”. This experience furthered my interest in public health.
I worked as Research Intern with the National Institute on Drug Abuse during the summer, 2009. This placement with the Division of Global Public Health at the University of California, San Diego is headed by Dr. Steffanie Strathdee. Under Dr. Starthdee’s leadership, I was involved in several projects centered in the border town community of Tijuana, Mexico. Many of these projects involve sex workers, intravenous drug users, and the transmission of HIV/AIDS. In Proyecto Parejas, a newly funded project, I was able to utilize my bilingual skills to conduct pilot interviews with study participants soliciting information regarding drug usage, sex partnerships, and depression scales. I was also involved in various other facets of research development.
Regarding my personal goals, I had hoped to gain a general insight into this particular area of research. My participation in these projects far exceeded my expectations. Working alongside Dr. Strathdee and her dedicated team of researchers, I was exposed to many different facets of research. Under Dr. Strathdee’s tutelage, I had amazing opportunities to participate in HIV/AIDS related studies affecting this important border region.