University of the District of Columbia (UDC) student Leslie DeJesus is receiving accolades after placing second in a symposium competition with her work about substance disorders. Learn more about her and her winning work in the UDC release below.

Source: Leslie DeJesus

The University of the District of Columbia is proud to announce that Political Science student Leslie DeJesus is the 2nd place undergraduate winner of the Minority Student Research Symposium for her research poster No Papers – No Service, Treatment Access Barriers. Ms. DeJesus’s winning project focused on how immigrant Latino families with substance abuse disorders are often confronted with systemic and cultural challenges that correlate to the efficacy of treatment and rates of recidivism. From her research, Ms. DeJesus found that despite a growth in parity, there remains a lack of cultural awareness and sensitivity that creates barriers to treatment, especially for those who experience socioeconomic disparities.

The Minority Student Research Symposium was created to answer a call to action to address a lack of representation of underrepresented minority populations in biomedical research.

Currently, underrepresented minorities (URM) represent over 30% of the U.S. population but less than 9% of STEM Ph.D. members and 7% of all physicians. Diversification of the biomedical workforce will help address the critical needs the U.S. faces to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health care. As part of an effort to address the shortfall, the Black Greek Leadership Consortium (BGLC) is partnering with universities across the U.S. to engage minority students studying health sciences and hosted the Minority Student Research Symposium (MSRS) on May 22, 2021.

Scholars participated in completing a research project utilizing data from the All of Us Research Program – an effort by the NIH that is inviting one million people across the U.S. to help build one of the most diverse health databases in history. By building this nationwide repository, the program hopes to ensure that medical researchers have data that properly reflects the current diversity of the U.S that can facilitate breakthroughs in precision medicine and lead to improved efficacy of current treatments.

Source: University of the District of Columbia

The scholars presented their work in a virtual poster session and developed a variety of research and professional skills while preparing for and presenting at the symposium. Among the main research topics presented included alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, chronic disease, physical disabilities, mental health and disorders, nutrition and weight status, and social determinants of health.

Leslie DeJesus is a Political Science major at the University of the District of Columbia. She will be pursuing graduate studies in a dual-degree program focused on advocating for and researching prevalent issues in underrepresented communities. Ms. DeJesus is a service-oriented individual who enjoys ethnographic studies as well as any scholarly or historical information pertaining to the Caribbean. She was born and raised in The Bronx and speaks English and Spanish fluently. Eventually, she plans to become a professor who teaches cultural and Caribbean studies.

Once again, we would like to extend our deepest congratulations to Leslie for her research in and dedication to improving the health sciences field.