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1) Alexis Talavera: I left Cuba August 22, 1994 on a small raft with five others trying to reach the Florida Keys, where a better future and freedom of speech and writing were welcoming us at in the Promise Land. I was seventeen when I made this decision. Two days later, we were picked up by the U.S. Coast Guard twenty miles away from our destination, and taken to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba with many other refugees. On December 29, 1994, I finally arrived in the United States of America.

Soon after, I started English classes at the Miami Dade Community College and worked two jobs, one job during week days and the other on weekends. In 1996, I moved to New Mexico after friends of my mother invited me to live with them. After living a year in New Mexico, I could speak and write some English. I met my wife Katherine, who helped me to get a job at Wild Oats Natural Food Market, where I climbed through various positions starting as a maintenance clerk, speaking very little English, and finished supervising the entire store.

Through this time of hard work, I always kept my dream of childhood in mind to become a medical doctor to improve people’s health and save lives in the process. I got my GED (i.e., high-school equivalency) at a local community college. I’m now in my senior year as a biochemistry major at the University of New Mexico.

I have two children, Marissa and Alex who I adore.

2) Educated in Mexico City and the United States, Roberto Astorga has engaged in multidisciplinary fields such as the humanities, acting, yoga and public health. In 1996, Roberto began his path in public health working in the development of outreach programs for migrant and seasonal farm workers in Mount Vernon, Washington. His restless, creative energy and his experience working in the media has enabled him to fill the gap between the value of research and the dissemination of knowledge to the Latino Community in a culturally competent manner.

He has produced a series of health education radio shows including “Salud y Comunidad” (Health and Community) and the successful program “Hablemos sobre el cancer” (“Let’s talk about cancer”) in Oregon and Washington. Currently, Roberto works in short time project for Cascade Aids Project, focusing his efforts to raise awareness in the Latino Community about HIV and AIDS. “My passion is to combine science and culture, so the community can understand complex, scientific information in a culturally sensitive context”.