Community-based work drives doctor’s public health passion

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“Public health teaches us the tools to help not only one person at a time, but lots of people in multiple ways,” said 2013 PhD recipient Abraham Salinas. “That’s why I love it.”

Abraham Salinas Miranda (7)

A native of Managua, Nicaragua, Salinas said the choice of where to pursue his PhD was an easy one.

“I did my MPH here, and pursuing the PhD was the next logical step,” he said. “I had already enjoyed my time during my MPH.”

“I really liked my doctoral program at USF,” he added. “It was multidisciplinary and flexible, but with all the rigor necessary.”

Through the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Salinas has been busy since graduation as a post-doctoral research fellow in a collaborative project with REACHUP, Inc., and Central Hillsborough Healthy Start.

For a post-doctoral optional practicum training, he is the project manager of a community-based participatory research project. Entitled “Toward Eliminating Disparities in Maternal and Child Health Populations,” the project is being funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

As a doctoral student, Salinas said, his activities were as diverse as public health itself.

He was a graduate teaching assistant in several courses, worked in pediatrics and child development, and helped to adapt a behavioral parent-training curriculum for Hispanic caregivers.

He served for more than two years as a board member for the Hillsborough County Healthy Start Coalition (“a great experience,” he said) and worked as a graduate research associate for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, where he said he gained valuable experience in quantitative research.

He did collaborative grant-writing and wrote articles for scientific journals.

Over the summers, he worked with faculty members on qualitative research projects for both COPH and the Morsani College of Medicine.

Balancing all that with a young family could hardly be easy for anyone, especially anyone with Salinas’ gusto for public health practice, not to mention Spanish guitar, piano, flute, biking and going to recreation parks with his wife and kids, and “mentally engaging video games.”

“It is very challenging to do a PhD and try to raise a family at the same time,” said the married father of 5-year-old and 1-year-old sons. “However, USF allowed me to work and learn in a flexible schedule.”

The Salinas Family pictured (l, r) Alfonso Salinas, brother, Flor Salinas, sister, Flor Miranda, mother, Abraham Salinas Miranda, Mikey Salinas, son, Abraham Salinas-Sandino, father, Daniela Chiriboga, wife, and Daniel Salinas, son.

The Salinas Family pictured (l, r) Alfonso Salinas, brother, Flor Salinas, sister, Flor Miranda, mother, Abraham Salinas Miranda, Mikey Salinas, son, Abraham Salinas-Sandino, father, Daniela Chiriboga, wife, and Daniel Salinas, son.

Although he may not yet have found the dream job that will define his career, Salinas said he has found his passion.

“My current appointment is wonderful because it allows me to work directly in the community and make a difference,” he said. “I would only add the ability to teach in a university setting as public health faculty, as well as flexible time for clinical and early intervention practice in a community-based clinic.”

 Story by David Brothers, USF College of Public Health

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