Latin@s in Louisiana

By Alberto Jacinto – Intern of Research and Evaluation

From 2000 to 2012, the Latin@ population in Louisiana rose an astounding 85.5%. A considerable proportion of this population is relatively young, with the average age being 29 years and just over a quarter of the population (28%) being under 18 years old.

Though Latin@s constitute only 4.5% of the total state population, this group has played an integral part in Louisiana’s history. Oftentimes, this contribution remains untold. Hondureñ@s, for example, began migrating to Louisiana in the early 1900s to work for the United Fruit Company. Although there were groups of “working class” people who migrated, there were also rich families who shipped their children to Louisiana in order to attend Catholic school. These early Latin@ settlers didn’t come together in Hispanic neighborhoods. Instead, they established themselves in mixed neighborhoods, which led to their assimilation with other groups.

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My year at the Commission as an Intern by Pilar Mendez

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Looking back on a successful year at the Commission gives me such pride to be a part of a leading organization focused on Hispanic health equity. I have been able to mold my internship experience to my interests, and have been involved in everything from HIV testing to writing articles about health disparities in the Deep South. I never would have imagined being able to be involved in projects from all aspects of an intervention. I would use SPSS to enter data and create codebooks on a variety of capacity building programs, a highly marketable skill in Public Health research. I also conducted interviews with a variety of Hispanic leaders in the Deep South for an assessment report on pressing concerns affecting quality of life. It was through these informal discussions that I was able to learn just how different the political and health climates are across varying states. In New York City itself, I contacted local leading policy officials and highly influential community-based health organizations who see and cater to Hispanic communities on a daily basis, in order to create a working document for outreach purposes.

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 Interns and HEARD staff at the United Nations, December, 2014

I continued with the Deep South assessments in my second semester of work, by  researching media outlets, including print and radio organizations, who market to a Hispanic audience in order to disseminate information about National Latino AIDS Awareness Day and HIV/AIDS-related health information. From there, I wrote a number of editorials and opinion articles that focused on health disparities in the Deep South for these outlets. Topics for these articles included obesity rates and chronic illnesses to how the physical built environment affects health outcomes.

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Behind the Scene: Summer at the Commission

This summer, I was given an opportunity to take part in something that can really change the world. I was able to spend my summer working with the Latino Commission on AIDS. During this time, I helped organize information for the Latino Religious Leadership Program from previous fiscal years and helped prepare for the next fiscal year to come. I got to work with some amazing people for a goal that seems obtainable: to increase awareness of HIV and AIDS to help reach the point where it will, one day, not be around.

I learned some new skills while working here, such as how to work with programs used for data entry, including how SPSS and Microsoft Excel. I learned how to set up SPSS depending on the data I have and how to use the various features to accurately portray what I want it to. I was surprised by how easy it was to learn these new programs. At first sight they seemed really complicated and difficult to understand, but after a short time of actually using them, I got more comfortable. I now feel confident that I can use these programs efficiently and effectively whenever the time may come. I learned skills to help me work in practically any field since all fields have some form of data within them. With this new knowledge I will be one step ahead of everyone else and have a better understanding as the training gets more advanced.

Everyone who worked at the Commission was amazing. They were all friendly and helped out whenever asked. They made my time working here incredible and all the more enjoyable. I had an incredible time helping out and a truly great experience. I am glad to have been given this opportunity to take part in something like this. It was a great experience.

Written by Ramon Torres

Intern from John Jay College