Assistant Professor Ruth Zúñiga Honored by Washington County Department of Health and Human Services

Zuniga AwardRuth Zúñiga, assistant professor in the Pacific University School of Graduate Psychology, has been honored by the Washington County Department of Health and Human Services for outstanding commitment to public health education.

The county recognized Dr. Zúñiga and other honorees at its annual Public Health Recognition Awards ceremony, held April 2 during National Public Health Week.

Zúñiga received the county's 2019 Public Health Ambassador Award, which recognizes an individual, family or small group in the community who has raised awareness of public health issues, developed projects with a lasting impact, or influenced systems or policy changes.

As director of Sabiduría (Latinx psychology emphasis) for the university's clinical graduate psychology program, Zúñiga has played a major role in establishing linguistically and culturally appropriate emotional health workshops to address rapidly growing behavioral health needs of the Latinx communities in Washington County.

In partnership with Promotores de Salud (community health workers) and the Providence Community Health Division, Zúñiga and several of her students developed workshops and community presentations aimed at educating Promotores de Salud and area residents on effective stress management, depression and anxiety management, dealing with crisis and suicide, fostering health relationships to prevent domestic violence, and substance abuse and addiction recognition and treatment options. The workshop series has been approved by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) for Continuing Education Credits CEUs.

The workshops are provided in Spanish and combine formal academic and popular education techniques. After each cohort is trained, participants in turn lead charlas (community talks) in their own communities, supported by Pacific University graduate and doctoral students.

The initial cohort of 35 completed the workshop series last December and are presenting their own bi-weekly charlas. A second cohort of 40 promotores is scheduled to complete the program at the end of this month, and they too will begin community charlas with a goal to reach 1,000 community members this year alone.

"Pacific University (has) been very giving to me to be able to do community-focused work through the work of students," Zúñiga told Hillsboro Tribune reporter Janae Easlon. "The students are learning and practicing, but also serving the community."

Zúñiga is the second Pacific University community member in three years receive a public health honor from Washington County, which bestowed its 2017 Emerging Public Health Leader Award on then-student Jared Kawatani '17.

Apr. 3, 2019