This year promised us full 20–20 vision, and it surely delivered a revelation of who we are. Even though our nation has no parallel, the seams of wear and tear showed, highlighting the need for a renewed commitment to ‘and justice for all’. Most of us had lost loved ones to the Opioid epidemic ravaging our state, then came the COVID19 novel virus, and then, the racism awareness outbreak. Throughout, good also came out in unexpected forms, like a former marine who stood in front of the Utah State Capitol for weeks with the words ‘I can’t breathe’ taped over his mouth. I experienced a full heart due to how students, colleagues, friends inquired about my safety during the pandemic, because of my autoimmune challenges. Like you, I have kept an eye on my neighbors, friends, students, and relatives. Do you need anything? How can I help? With this spirit of gratitude and openness, we are entering another year that is compromised by a virus and its mutations. I know we will be equal to the task, and pitch in where needed, to lift our great state of Utah and each other. Thank you, Dr. Michael Magill, for bringing the AHEC movement to Utah, and giving it energy for its first 25 years. I am grateful to our generous mentors, graduated and current scholars, esteemed volunteers, committed board of directors and supporters, stellar community health workers, and caring Centers directors and staff. It is because of you that we have accomplished so many victories in 2020. I am proud of being the first woman and Latina trusted to lead the Utah Area Health Education Centers and honored by this vow to diversity and inclusion. We wish you and your loved ones a successful and productive new year!
Ivette Amelia López, Ph.D., MPH is a Professor of Public Health at the University of Utah Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. She is also the Deputy Director of the Utah Area Health Education Centers. Dr. López was born and raised in Caguas, Puerto Rico, and came to the United States mainland to pursue an advanced education. She is, and has been for over two decades, a dedicated professional in pursuit of health equity for Latinos and other disadvantaged populations in the United States. From AIDS (the epidemic that drew her to public health) to diabetes, obesity causal explanations among minority women, to Latina breast cancer survivorship, her research and service are dedicated to engaging minority communities in finding solutions to their health burdens.
She resides in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and daughter.