Lorena Melendez – Chavez
"I want to develop culturally competent curricula and focused research that will help people lead healthier lives. In addition, I want to inspire others to go to college, get a degree and give back to disadvantaged communities."
With a passion for public health, nutrition and eliminating health disparities, Lorena wants to help combat obesity and chronic disease around the world and inspire people, especially first-generation college students, to become involved in research and social change. As a student intern in the Marilyn Magaram Nutrition Center, she taught children and adults in the San Fernando Valley about healthy eating habits and gardening skills as part of a grant to reduce obesity in low-income communities.
Working in an NIH-funded program for underrepresented minorities in STEM, Lorena is a research assistant on a study focused on the outcomes of Latinos with pre-diabetes who receive prevention education and nutrigenomics testing. She has developed curricula, trained project members and recruited participants. She also serves as a co-fundraising officer for the Students Dietetic and Food Science Association and works as a nutrition educator to seniors in Los Angeles county community centers.