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Natalie De La Cruz

GS: Where are you from?
ND: Reno, NV

GS: What degree will you receive and when?
ND: PhD in Health Education and Health Promotion, August 2009

GS: How long have you been at UAB?
ND: 3 years (since Fall of 2006)

GS: What is your research? 
ND: Broadly speaking, my research focuses on reproductive health issues; my dissertation explores fertility desires among mothers living with HIV

GS: What made you choose UAB for your graduate studies?
ND: Because of the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the region (unfortunately), the southern US was the ideal place given my interests in HIV/AIDS related research and programs. UAB has a long-standing history of excellence in the area of HIV. The fellowship also didn't hurt!

GS: Have you received any awards or honors?
ND: I came to UAB as a Graduate Trainee Fellow in 2006 and also received a scholarship from Tylenol in 2008.

GS: What has been your most rewarding experience at UAB?
ND: Meeting and working with others toward a number of common goals—during my time at UAB, I have met wonderful friends and colleagues with whom I will likely continue to collaborate for many, many years. 

GS: Who was your greatest influence here at UAB and why?
ND: I have had too many influences at UAB--ranging from fellow students, faculty members, and support staff--to name a single most influential person. Collectively they have all challenged me to grow professionally and personally. I am grateful to my academic mentors, Dr. Diane Grimley and Dr. Susan Davies, for their support. 

GS: What is your motivation in your academics/research?
ND: For me, public health has always been an avenue for empowering individuals and communities to reach their highest potential—I can’t think of a better motivation than that. 

GS: What are your plans after graduating and for the future?
ND: I plan to continue to teach, conduct research, and develop, implement and evaluate programs designed to improve the health of vulnerable populations, likely in an academic or non-profit setting; however, the exact location is yet to be determined. 

What’s Natalie’s advice to other graduate students?
Try to enjoy the ride; it will be over soon enough….