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Meet an MI Student

Mayra Barcenas

Master’s of Public Health, 2013
Loma Linda University
Guatemala, 2011–13

Joining the Peace Corps has been ingrained within me for a very long time. I grew up in rural Mexico and personally experienced the reasons my family chose to immigrate to the United States. Although we were living the American Dream, I realized my family and friends were burdened by illnesses that heavily fell on poor and immigrant populations. As an undergrad, I decided to pursue a career in public health with a focus on immigrant health, and decided to join the Peace Corps to reinforce my graduate career and further experience why people immigrate to the United States. Master’s International offered this and more. I studied public health for a year at Loma Linda University and used Peace Corps service as a prolonged field internship.

As a Master’s International student, I focused on train-the-trainer principles and worked closely with health promoters at the community level; I collaborated with a community-based organization to address public-health concerns affecting the Hispanic population. Later, as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I continued working with health promoters as a way to address community needs. Although the health topics were different in Guatemala, I applied the same principles of nonformal adult education that I used in my academic studies and successfully implemented a Health Promoter Academy. Both my academic experience and my Peace Corps service have been closely intertwined and continue to shape my future career plans in public health.

I am currently serving in El Quiche, Guatemala. My assignment falls under the Healthy Homes project and I work as a health promoter focusing on health education in rural villages through the use of community health workers.

Serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala has truly been a rewarding experience. I have been blessed to serve in a gracious and loving country while fulfilling my degree’s practicum. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, I’ve experience and lived the life of a Guatemalan. Friends and families have shared their stories and I have shared mine. Many have shared why they wish to leave their homes and risk immigrating to United States: They simply seek improved living conditions. As a Master’s International student, I have been given the skills to help them help themselves and attain overall wellbeing for themselves and for their loved ones without having to leave their country.

Master’s International has also given me the tools necessary to address immigrant population health in the United States. With my degree in public health, I will continue training health promoters on disease prevention among Spanish-speaking communities. Using the skills I learned as a Master’s International student, I hope to address chronic illnesses that primarily affect low-income Hispanic populations.


Last updated May 06 2015

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Paul D. Coverdell Peace Corps Headquarters
1111 20th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20526

Phone: 855.855.1961, ext. 1812
Fax: 202.692.1727

Email: mastersinternational@

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