Degree: Master of Public Health
College/School: Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work
When Alejandra Tercero was five, her family escaped violence in Honduras for a better, safer life in the U.S. Her father worked long hours as a landscaper to provide for the family. Alejandra’s mother – who never finished high school – always stressed the importance of a good education.
Alejandra excelled academically, taking dual enrollment classes in high school and graduating at the top of her class. Ineligible for financial aid, Alejandra worked to pay her way through college, and graduated from FIU with her bachelor’s degree in two years.
After graduation, Alejandra worked as a case manager for a community mental health center. She also was a sales associate at lululemon, to make ends meet.
Yet, for Alejandra, who is under Temporary Protected Status, the fear that she would have to return to a country where she had no ties – and no hope for a future – haunted her. But she would always remember her mother’s wise words: “Work hard and have faith.”
In 2016, Alejandra returned to FIU to pursue her master’s degree. As a part of her practicum, she helped implement HIV/STI and substance abuse prevention strategies at FIU, through the ‘Cody the Camel’ campaign.
Alejandra’s hard work has paid off. In May, she accepted a position at the University of Miami as a research associate for the National Institutes of Health’s historic study “All of Us,” which will use data from one million people to improve healthcare for everyone.
By Angela Nicoletti
Senior Writer, Office of Media Relations