By Samantha Meza
My name is Samantha Meza. I am a 30-year-old, California-born, Colorado-raised daughter of immigrants. My mother is from Mexico and my father is from Peru. I grew up full of various cultures at odds with each other, which was very confusing to my identity. It always felt like my sister was the only person who could understand the cultural exhaustion of growing up in a predominantly white space. Navigating academia and then higher education only increased my cultural isolation through my adolescence. While completing my undergrad, I decided to minor in Ethnic Studies. This decision truly changed how I viewed the world by giving me the language to understand critical race theory and social inequities. I also understood how my social environments shaped my overall health. After I graduated college, I moved to Denver where I began working for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The public health sector alerted me to the ways social determinants negatively impact public health outcomes for marginalized communities. My concern for this work extends beyond education and into community. Where I have seen my family impacted throughout the years from exorbitant healthcare costs, medical mistranslations, and the cultural stigma of mental healthcare. Denver also introduced me to diverse communities through volunteering and new social circles filled with friends who grew up with a multicultural identity just like me. I recently graduated with a Masters in Public Administration and am eager to continue to bring cultural awareness and passionate advocacy to the government and public programs that I work in.