Women and Gender Studies, Women and Health
B.A. January 2010
Dean’s Certificate for Academic Excellence
In her application to CUNY Baccalaureate, María Vides wrote “From early childhood on I was confronted with sexism or gender inequality in the way females experience it in so-called developing countries. My mother is an illiterate, peasant woman; my father is a teacher with a master’s degree in education from a European institution.” Vides and her family fled El Salvador in the 1980s during that country’s civil war. She was one of many who arrived in Washington, D.C., and notes that in addition to facing sexism in the U.S., she also had to confront classism, racism and anti-immigrant xenophobia.
As a teenager in D.C., Vides volunteered at La Clinica del Pueblo, a free non-profit community health center serving immigrant Latinos. This experience deeply influenced her and she moved from a volunteer to a paid position that she held there for 12 years; her work included medical interpretation, health promotion and education, and program coordination, with an emphasis on HIV prevention and counseling. In New York, she continued her work with Latino immigrants in an advocacy organization and a health clinic. She continued to be active in her community, organizing press conferences, lobbying on Capitol Hill and coordinating U.S. political delegations to Central America with the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador.
Vides writes “Community work has given me an empirical understanding of the state of women’s health: women suffer genital mutilation, lack access to reproductive and general women’s health, are targets of all sorts of violence, are objects of human trafficking and more.” In CUNY Baccalaureate her goal was to add theoretical knowledge to her experience in order to be able to analyze and articulate the health situation of Latinas. Under the direction of Prof. Lynn Roberts, Community Health, Hunter, she undertook a rigorous group of courses from City and Hunter Colleges in community health, history, psychology, sociology and women’s studies. She included fieldwork identifying primary health care needs of HIV+ clients at Settlement Health in East Harlem under the supervision of Prof. Megha Ramaswamy, Hunter College/ Brookdale School of Health and Sciences. She also earned 15 life experience credits for her prior work in media, government, politics, community organizing and translation.
Looking forward, Vides’ goal is to work towards a Master’s in Public Health, Health Education or Public Policy. Her long-term dream is to play a direct role in those decision-making processes that have an impact on the health of immigrant Latinas in the U.S. or around international health policy.