First-Generation Mexican-American Challenges Health Disparities among Underserved Communities

First-Generation Mexican-American Challenges Health Disparities among Underserved Communities

Daisy Alvarez-Lopez plans to use her Duke education to further health equity for women and children in marginalized communities.

ABSN Student Daisy Alvarez-Lopez
ABSN Student Daisy Alvarez-Lopez

For ABSN student Daisy Alvarez-Lopez, her experience as a first-generation Mexican-American has been integral to her pursuit of a nursing career that she hopes will help combat health inequities, resistance to care, and break down language barriers within communities that often do not have full access to quality healthcare.

Alvarez-Lopez said from a young age she knew she wanted to work in healthcare, but what prompted her drive to pursue this dream was the first-hand clinical experiences she obtained as a certified nurse assistant which showed her the diverse role nurses play in healthcare.

“Another factor was the challenges I saw my parents face in accessing healthcare services, along with the Latinx community,” Alvarez-Lopez said. “My parents, like many other immigrants, show resilience as they adopt and navigate a promising yet foreign culture, language, and new community.”

She added, “Growing up, I saw the complications of a language barrier in healthcare and how it strips away the satisfaction and relief of a doctor’s visit as well as the financial constraints that rural areas experience regarding access to healthcare.” She stressed the importance of advocating for culturally competent care to ensure that all patients receive respectful, inclusive care tailored to their needs.

Alvarez-Lopez said she chose the Duke University School of Nursing to pursue her degree because it is known worldwide for its commitment to excellence and improving health outcomes through education and clinical practice. “I hope to not only further my education but to be a part of the institution's goal of advancing health equity and social justice which is one of the many reasons I chose Duke.”

When applying to ABSN programs, she looked for schools that shared the same values as her and schools that had an emphasis on diversity. “I knew I wanted to be in a classroom setting that acknowledges and respects different cultures, ethnicities, and perspectives,” Alvarez-Lopez said. “Duke has the innovation and inclusiveness which aligns with my vision of nursing. Tackling health disparities and social inequity in healthcare at an institution whose mission is to address these issues made it easier to say yes to Duke.”

Avalrez-Lopez mentioned the Duke experience so far has exceeded her expectations. Being a part of a community that shares the same passion for nursing and that is filled with supportive peers and faculty has created a wonderful learning environment for her. “Having the opportunity to learn and connect with top scholars in my field of interest has made the Duke experience exceptional and inspiring. The staff and faculty at Duke are eager to help students network, which has presented me with a vast number of resources and opportunities.”

The School of Nursing has an overarching mission to train highly competent nurse leaders who will help advance health equity and Alvarez-Lopez said the school is helping her support the mission through academics. Her course of study includes classroom learning, clinical experiences, and simulations along with leadership and professional development opportunities. “I believe Duke’s academic preparation will shape me into a compassionate and competent nurse leader.”

When Alvarez-Lopez graduates, she said she plans on pursuing nursing opportunities that align with her interest in women’s health and pediatrics. “In my nursing career, I aim to advocate for health equity, particularly for marginalized communities while helping underrepresented communities facing language barriers in healthcare,” Alvarez-Lopez said. “As a first-generation Mexican-American, I strive to advocate for culturally sensitive care, ensuring every patient receives inclusive care tailored to their needs.”

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