The RWJF Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico is a physical, educational and cultural home for promising health policy scholars and researchers. The varied knowledge, background, and experience of its fellows enable the center to address the full spectrum of issues that affect health and health care in our communities.

Meet the Scholars

  • RWJF Center for Health Policy Doctoral Fellow

    Yoshira D. Macias Mejia is a doctoral student in the department of political science. She is a first generation Mexican American and Southern California native. She graduated from California State University, Northridge with her bachelor’s degree in Political Science. She also holds a M.A. in American Politics and Public Policy from the University of New Mexico. She has been graduate intern at the New Mexico State Department of Health. Through this internship she was able to gain insight as to how health policies affect non-English language speakers in New Mexico. This informs her research because she is able to use this knowledge for her future field work in New Mexico. Her rationale for pursuing health equity issues stem primarily from personal experience with family members.

  • Postdoc at the University of Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute

    Yajaira Johnson-Esparza, was a doctoral fellow at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico.

    Her research interests include mental health disparities among Latinos living in the United States. Despite their growing numbers, Latinos continue to be underserved in the mental health sector and to face an array of social and environmental stressors. These vast mental health inequities sparked Peña-Esparza’s interest in pursuing this line of research. She is particularly interested in understanding the dynamics underlying psychopathology in the Latino population, with the ultimate goal of effecting policy change that will contribute to health equity. Her dissertation investigates risk profiles for depression in a national Latino sample. In addition, she has taken the lead role in an RWJF-funded pilot project that investigates the effectiveness of a residential treatment program for homeless and ethnically diverse individuals with substance use problems in Albuquerque, N.M.