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Class of 2021 graduate Nathalye Lopez works to ensure accurate information gets out to limited-English-speaking communities in Los Angeles
A class of 2021 graduate from UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Nathalye Lopez has been working to make sure accurate information gets out to limited-English-speaking communities in southern California since early in the pandemic.
It started out with contributions on social media, which developed into the student-driven Multilingual COVID Information Project (MCIP), which has put out more than 2,500 social media messages about COVID-19; now, the native Angeleno has branched out to podcasting to get the word out about vaccinations and health.
“The Latinx community has a lower vaccination rate due to skepticism, misinformation, and lack of information,” said Lopez (MPH, '21). “As a public health professional, I also knew that outreach, health education, and promotion are critical to increasing the number of people getting the vaccine, especially in minority communities in Los Angeles.”
Lopez has worked with Avance Latino, a Los Angeles-based 501(c)3, on a bilingual podcast - COVID-19 Workshop with Nathalye Lopez | Taller de COVID-19 con Nathalye Lopez - to answer questions and share verified and valid information about the pandemic and public health.
“Avance Latino has a strong relationship with Latinx residents in East Los Angeles, but the beauty of social media - and YouTube - is that anyone anywhere can see this video and share it,” Lopez said. “Hopefully, the audience of this video goes beyond East LA, because it answers common questions that many people have about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.”
The MCIP team, made up of Fielding School students and faculty, saw the need early in 2020.
“These students were talking with their family members about masks, hand-washing and physical distancing, but their families were also seeing all kinds of wild and inaccurate information,” said Dr. Anne Pebley, UCLA Fielding School professor of community health sciences and one of the project’s faculty advisors. “And what was accurate was often technical, and not particularly easy to read.”
The MCIP (www.covidinfo.ph.ucla.edu) delivers messages in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese. The team draws on the students’ own linguistic abilities, as well as material from public health agencies, to communicate best practices via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tiktok, Kakao talk, and other social media channels. For her part, Lopez is working on the next phase of her career: studying for her Medical College Admission Test.
“Completing my public health degree at UCLA made me realize how broken our current health system is and how vulnerable community members pay the price with higher morbidity and mortality rates from preventable illnesses,” Lopez said. “Diversity among physicians is the practical approach to provide equitable access to care across diverse U.S. populations.”