Maria Dizon, a Northern Marianas College alumna, was recently awarded the Outstanding Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Leadership from Oregon Health and Science University’s School of Public Health.
This award recognizes a student who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in the academic environment and the public health community.
“We are incredibly proud of Maria as she continues her academic journey and look forward to the amazing contributions she will undoubtedly make in her chosen career path,” NMC Associate Professor and BUILD EXITO Principal Investigator Dr. Beylul Solomon said.
Dizon currently works as an epidemiology researcher for the Multnomah County Health Department on the Pacific Islander Data Modernization Project and the Pacific Islander Data Health Equity Project and co-leads the Health and Wellness Research Committee for the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns in Oregon.
After finishing up her sophomore year at NMC in 2017, she transferred to Portland State University as a BUILD EXITO program scholar. BUILD EXITO is an undergraduate research training program from PSU that is aimed at supporting students on their pathway to becoming scientific researchers.
Since moving to Oregon, Dizon received her Bachelor of Science degree in Health Studies: Community Health degree in 2019 and is currently a first-year graduate student at Oregon Health and Sciences University and PSU for her Master’s Degree in Public Health: Health Promotion.
Dizon also serves as a Graduate Research Assistant to the National Institutes of Health's BUILD EXITO program mentoring and supporting scholars from the Northern Marianas College and American Samoa Community College.
In addition, Dizon has also presented her recent research work in Oregon Health & Science University's School of Public Health Research Conference, "COVID-19 Impact Survey for Filipinos in Oregon", a community-based participatory research project which focused on how the pandemic has affected mental health, basic needs, finances, and healthcare access. It received the highest virtual poster scores.
Dizon also earned the best overall research poster award in the 2019 OHSU-PSU Research Conference among undergraduate and graduate students for her work on "Barriers and Facilitators of Recruiting Vulnerable Populations into Research," which is about Latino parents, obesity prevention, and clinical trials.
When asked how NMC has influenced her life, Dizon said, “NMC paved a way for where I am now with its partnerships.”
When Dizon was 16, she was accepted as a research fellow at NMC's joint program with the National Institutes of Health's Short Term Research Program for Underrepresented Persons (STEP UP) for three consecutive years. Dizon then went on as a Child Health Assessment in the Pacific (CHAP) Program Scholar and Research Fellow housed in NMC Cooperative Research, Extension, and Education Services and the University of Hawaii.
“It's now coming full circle since I serve as a Graduate Research Assistant, guiding fellow students from the Pacific like me through their pathways to becoming research scientists who also seek to find solutions to today's major health problems,” Dizon said.