You don’t often hear about pre-med students taking two years to earn a master’s degree in the highly theoretical realm of Cultural Studies, but Dominique Garcia is not a typical student.
“This quarter has been pretty challenging,” laughs Garcia. “I have no background in the humanities, so many of these names and concepts are entirely new to me. The class discussions are pretty intense too.”
Garcia is nearing the end of her first quarter in the Master of Arts in Cultural Studies program at UW Bothell, and while the adjustment has been a challenge, there is no question why she is here; to develop effective medical practice that addresses the needs of Mexican-Americans.
The interdisciplinary approach of UW Bothell has produced a number of students that have gone on to continue innovative work in a variety of fields, but Garcia work is of significant contemporary importance. “I am very excited to have a MACS student who is interested in bringing Cultural Studies to bear on health inequalities and the practice of medicine,” says Professor Johanna Crane.
Originally from San Diego, Garcia earned her undergraduate degree from Seattle Pacific University in Physiology. During her time there, Garcia began to recognize a divergence in the type of medical conduct that most Americans experience, and the conduct that is most effective in building relationships between doctors and patients. Garcia sees this divergence as complicit in issues that surround health in immigrant or hybrid cultural communities.
“I grew up in a single parent family in the Mexican-American community in southern California. We were on social welfare, state provided health insurance,” Garcia explains. “We had less than ideal doctor-patient interactions to put it lightly. The reality is there is a need for a safe bridge between medicine and patients, especially within the Latino community, where the distrust of doctors is not unheard of.”
Garcia’s work in these areas recently earned her the Latino Scholars Graduate School Fellowship; a new funding opportunity that helps support graduate students who have demonstrated a commitment to engaging Latino communities. “There were five recipients of the fellowship this year, I haven’t met the others yet, but we have a dinner coming up. I’m looking forward to meeting them.”
While her focus at the moment is situating herself in the terrain of Cultural Studies, Garcia has already given a lot of thought to her future. “I’d like to practice family medicine after I earn my doctorate, and I hope that my work in Cultural Studies will help build a bridge between medicine and the Latino community that engages their values of community and relationship.”
To learn more about the Latino Scholars Graduate Fellowship, go to http://www.grad.washington.edu/students/fa/latino/index.shtml
To learn more about UW Bothell’s Master of Arts in Cultural Studies program, go to http://www.uwb.edu/culturalstudies