Gira J. Ravelo, MSW
Currently a doctoral student in the Social Welfare Program Florida International University (FIU), Robert Stemple College of Public Health and Social Work. My research interests are in the area of health disparities among older Latinos, specifically on the sociocultural determinants of HIV/AIDS and chronic illnesses in this population. As a currently funded NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein (F-31) Pre-Doctoral Fellow from NIMHD, I am being mentored by Dr. Mario De La Rosa, Director of Center of Research on U.S. Latino HIV/AIDS and Drug Abuse (CRUSADA) at FIU. My dissertation, titled “Influences of Adult Latina Daughters on their Older Mother’s HIV Risk and Protective Behaviors,” utilizes data from one of CRUSADA’s 10-year longitudinal investigations to examine how mother-daughter attachment and substance use impacts HIV risk behaviors among older Latinas. As a PhD student scholar in health disparities research at CRUSADA/C-SALUD, I participates in the writing and presenting of peer reviewed manuscripts at national conferences, contribute as a peer reviewer in social work journal, collaborate in the development of grant proposals, coordinates longitudinal studies including data collection, data management, questionnaire development, and data analyses and as well as working closely with the Center’s community partners in conducting community-based participatory research.
As an undergraduate student studying psychology with a second major in Spanish, I gained a range of cultural knowledge both in the classroom and from my environment at the University of New Mexico. My graduate education in social work also provided me with a rich knowledge of diversity in environments. Furthermore, residing in culturally diverse cities, including New York City, NY, San Francisco, CA, Albuquerque, NM, and Miami, FL, has given me firsthand experience with diverse groups of Latinos. Moreover, as an 11-year veteran of the United States Air Force, I had the opportunity to meet and network with a variety of cultures and people. With a strong understanding of diversity, I have learned how very unique cultural groups can be. This understanding has guided my career pursuits as an independent researcher in minority health disparities.