RWJF Center for Health Policy at UNM

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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

    Melina was born and raised in a small, rural, farm community in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Her parents are Mexican immigrants from Guanajuato, Mexico who have inspired and pushed her to continue her education.
    She received her B.A. in political science from California State University, Stanislaus and completed her M.A. in Trans-Atlantic Politics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her M.A. thesis explored South-North migration with a focus on Mexico-U.S. and Morocco-Spain immigration issues. Her thesis analyzed push-and-pull factors of immigration, immigration policies, and the politics behind reclassifying immigrants as economic refugees.
    Along with her academic work, Melina is also an active part of her community. She is part of the Raza Graduate Student Association and various grassroots organizations and campaigns that tackle issues relating to immigration/immigrant rights, ethnic studies and education access, and LGBTQ issues.

  • UNM Health Policy Fellow

    Barbara is a doctoral student in political science and a Health Policy Doctoral Fellow at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico, where she studies racial and health disparities of minority and immigrant populations in the United States.

    Barbara served as research intern at the Migration Policy Institute, providing support for the U.S. Immigration Policy Program in issues such as immigration enforcement and deferred action. She also worked at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, doing research on immigration enforcement policies, unaccompanied minors and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA); and the Cross Border Issues Group, studying migration from Mexico and Central America to the United States. Barbara served as research and legal assistant for several years, working with refugees from Congo and the Great Lake region of Africa, immigrant victims of crimes, young unauthorized immigrants and international students and scholars.

    As a first generation student and as an immigrant herself, Barbara wants to create rights-based policy change to advance minority rights.