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Diverse Scholars Initiative Seeks To Enhance Culturally Competent Health Care




July 15, 2011 (San Diego) – Nine California residents, including Erica Tiscareno of San Diego, have won scholarships from United Health Foundation’s Diverse Scholars Initiative to pursue a career in health care. 

Tiscareno, who is a sophomore studying nursing at San Diego State University, hopes to one day become a nurse. Other scholarship winners from California include Matthew Vazquez of Corona, Francisco Hernandez of Signal Hill and Nedra Chijioke of Corona.
“I plan to have a positive impact in the health care community by becoming a compassionate and highly skilled registered nurse,” said Tiscareno. “Additionally, I intend to use my background, culture and education to be a positive Hispanic role model and leader in the health care industry, and in all aspects of my life.”
United Health Foundation’s Diverse Scholars Initiative, through its partner organizations, is awarding a total of $1.2 million in scholarships for the upcoming academic year to more than 200 students from diverse, multicultural backgrounds.  This is part of the Foundation’s ongoing commitment to build a more diverse health care workforce.
The scholarships, averaging $5,000 per student, focus on African American, American Indian, Asian American and Latino and Hispanic students who plan to pursue careers in health care. Tiscareno’s scholarship will be administered by the Hispanic College Fund.
Since 2007, United Health Foundation has awarded nearly 800 scholarships benefiting students across the nation, committing more than $4 million to the initiative. 
“Research shows that when patients are treated by health professionals who share their language, culture and ethnicity, they are more likely to accept and receive medical treatment. Through these scholarships we are encouraging diverse, multicultural students to continue their education and become health care professionals who will help expand and enhance health care services, particularly in underserved communities.  These outstanding scholars truly represent the rich diversity of our country,” said Kate Rubin, president, United Health Foundation. 
United Health Foundation hosted its third annual Diverse Scholars “Young Minds, Bright Futures,” Forum in Washington, D.C. during late June to recognize and celebrate the awardees and inspire them to work toward strengthening the nation’s health care system.  This year’s event will provide an opportunity for the talented, young future health care professionals to meet and interact with members of Congress and experts and leaders from a variety of health care fields. 
The forum included an informational panel of health experts and a breakfast reception on Capitol Hill Wednesday the 22nd.  Panelists for “Innovations in Chronic Disease Care and Prevention” include Deneen Vojta, M.D., Senior Vice President, UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform & Modernization; Felipe Lobelo, M.D., Ph.D., Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Amina Farhadi, Reproductive Justice Fellow (LSRJ), Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum; and Mona Shah, Associate Director, Federal Relations, American Cancer Society.
Diverse Scholars Initiative Seeks To Enhance Culturally Competent Health Care
The goal of the Diverse Scholars Initiative is to increase the number of qualified, yet underrepresented, college graduates entering the health workforce.  By cultivating health professionals from diverse, multicultural backgrounds, United Health Foundation hopes to increase culturally competent health care delivery, close the health disparities gap and improve health outcomes over the long term. 
The program is administered through partnerships with a variety of nonprofit and civic organizations.  While United Health Foundation does not influence recipient selection, scholars must demonstrate financial need, the pursuit of a degree that will lead to a career in a health field, and a commitment to working in underserved communities, including community health centers.  Additional requirements and application deadlines vary by organization.
The organizations are experienced in scholarship administration and have reputations for achieving excellence with these programs.  They also have the ability to identify and engage with students who are most in need of financial support.  The Diverse Scholars Initiative partner organizations include:
Diverse Scholars Initiative partner organizations include: American Indian College Fund; Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund; Auxiliary to the National Medical Association; California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute; Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities; Hispanic College Fund; Hispanic Scholarship Fund; Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas; Jackie Robinson Foundation; National Black Nurses Association; National Association of Hispanic Nurses; National Hispanic Health Foundation; National Medical Fellowships, Inc.; South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Inc.; Tavis Smiley Foundation; Thurgood Marshall College Fund; Tom Joyner Foundation; and United Negro College Fund. 
For more information about the Diverse Scholars Initiative, visit


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