Natalie Larez of UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz School has been named to the prestigious Health Policy Research Scholars 2020 cohort. Health Policy Research Scholars—a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation—is led by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Larez will receive a grant for $124,000 over four years as she works on her Ph.D. in the Department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology.
The Health Policy Research Scholars is designed for students from underrepresented populations and/or marginalized backgrounds—students whose race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, ability, or other factors allow them to bring unique and diverse perspectives to their research.
The program’s scholars gain access to the tools, insights, and diversity of mentors needed to accelerate and distinguish their research. Alumni from the program carry the unique distinction of being a graduate of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation leadership program and become a part of a tightly knit network of visionary change agents across sectors and disciplines.
Larez comes from a small rural town in Arizona on the US-Mexico border. Her hometown is low-resourced but holds rich bicultural ties, combining to provide her with a unique perspective and deep dedication to create equitable systems for communities like her own.
Larez is interested in examining how publicly funded institutions support the educational, physical, and mental health care needs of youth who have experienced significant childhood trauma. How can multiple systems support the educational success of youth who have experienced trauma? Specifically, she will examine better avenues in creating access for mental health services for minoritized, Spanish-speaking, under-resourced, and/or low-income communities. She believes interdisciplinary and cross-sector collaboration among policy makers, academics, and communities is essential in advancing the overall health of communities who have inequitable access to education, medical care, and mental health services.