Sofía Gómez, MPA, has a passion and commitment to public service that started in Chicago when she began working on issues related to violence prevention in her own community. “Public health is a way to address social justice often tackling issues related to health equity in communities,” she said.
She received a master of public administration (MPA) from the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University in 2003. A native of Chicago, Gómez fell in love with Tucson’s beautiful desert landscapes and its people when she moved here after graduating from CSU. The University of Arizona was her top choice due to its history of being a land-grant institution and its high research profile offering the most doctoral programs in the state.
“It also houses what I refer to as my mothership, the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. The college’s emphasis on research and service helped me further develop the skills necessary to better understand and examine matters related to public health policy and community health.”
Gómez will graduate from the UA Zuckerman College of Public Health with a doctoral degree (DrPH) in public health policy and management. Her dissertation project was “DACAmented Voices in Healthcare.”
Her research examined the impact of state-level immigration policy on health care. Her work explored how mixed status households access health care when one or several members have varied immigration statuses. Gómez worked with immigrant youth to develop the exhibit, DACAmented Voices in Healthcare, a documentary photography project that brings attention to extreme and polarizing attitudes towards immigrants and their exclusion from health services.
Gómez is the recipient of the prestigious Marshall Foundation Dissertation Fellowship awarded to graduate students on the basis of topic, methodology and potential contributions of dissertation research.
She previously worked with the Arizona Prevention Research Center in the UA Zuckerman College of Public Health and the UA Binational Migration Institute (BMI) in the Department of Mexican American Studies as a graduate research associate. She received the Excellent Immigration Research Graduate Student Award for 2017 from the BMI.
What’s next for Gómez? She is working on finalizing publications related to her research. On the job front, she is under consideration for positions in California and Washington, D.C., that would expand her work on health equity matters with vulnerable populations, specifically work related to public health policy and advocacy.
“My academic degree in combination with my community research experience has deeply solidified my commitment to public health policy and advocacy. I look forward to expanding my work and to continue addressing matters related to health equity.”
Gómez credits many mentors at the UA for helping achieve her doctorate degree. “I stand on the shoulders of many giants that have conducted community health research and social justice work in this region. It took a village and I was fortunate to work with many formal and informal mentors throughout my academic tenure at UA.”
Specifically, Gómez thanks her mentors from the UA College of Public Health; Samantha Sabo, assistant professor; Jill de Zapien, associate dean of community programs; Maia Ingram, co-director of the Arizona Prevention Research Center; and Cecilia Rosales, associate dean of Phoenix Programs; and Anna O’Leary, associate professor, UA Department of Mexican American Studies and co-director of BMI, and Raquel Goldsmith, researcher and adjunct lecturer, UA Department of Mexican American Studies.
Gómez also cites the guidance of Michael Halpern, the chair of her dissertation committee, now associate professor at Temple University College of Public Health.
In the College’s Office of Student and Alumni Affairs, Gómez credits the support of Chris Tisch, assistant dean, and Michael Tearne, coordinator of graduate programs, for their guidance on how to navigate the academic process and seek out and apply for scholarships, fellowships and graduate research opportunities.
The UAMel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health Convocation is Saturday, May 13 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Centennial Hall (1020 E. University Blvd.) on the UA main campus. A reception for graduates, family and friends follows at the Women’s Plaza Walkway.