Karen Valladares is a fourth-year first-generation undergraduate student majoring in Public Health Policy. She was inspired to go into public health after understanding the numerous events she had witnessed growing up were inhumane and unjust. Witnessing her mother’s unpleasant experiences sparked her passion to be a voice for those who cannot speak up. Public health encompasses her passion for prevention, health promotion and social justice. Through her education at UCI, she has been able to see the staggering social inequalities in health care, education, jobs and housing. She has also learned that low-income and minority populations share an unequal burden of environmental health problems; this resonated with her because communities and community members may not be aware of or in control of these issues. She was inspired to work with UCI’s Community Resilience Projects because of their shared goals in understanding the problems that our communities face and the collaborations that must happen in order to find solutions.
Karen will be working with UCI’s Regional Resilience Project to open up a dialogue about environmental justice concerns with the residents of Orange County. The project will focus on the resident’s perspective specifically those who are disparately affected by environmental justice issues.