BUILD EXITO Alumni Profile: Dhale Larsen Posadas

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By the After-EXITO Team

Dhale Larsen Posadas, a recent alumna of the BUILD EXITO program, looks at the camera and smiles

It has been nearly 3 years since Dhale Larsen Posadas discovered her path to working in public health. Although her undergraduate degree and research focused more on bench science experiences, Dhale was inspired to expand her knowledge of public health work and programs, and committed to landing herself a job in the public health field.  

As a Cohort 1 BUILD EXITO Scholar Alumni, Dhale transferred from Saipan, in the Northern Marianas Islands, to Portland State University to complete her bachelor's degree. After attending the BUILD EXITO Research Learning Community Fair, Dhale was matched with Dr. Melanie Giligham as her research mentor. In Dr. Melanie Gilligham’s Lab at the Oregon Health and Sciences University’s department of Molecular and Medical Genetic, Dhale studied fatty acid oxidation disorders and insulin sensitivity in human and mice models, and worked with patients to carry out glucose monitoring for clinical research studies. During this time, Dhale worked hard at her research and took as many public health courses that she could. 

"I had my mind set on majoring in biology, but it was not until my senior year when i realized I greatly enjoyed public health so much more! Yet, I lacked public health work experience, and finding a job after college was very challening for me as many employers seek out people who are experienced."

However, figuring out how to move forward with her career interests proved to be very challenging. “I was at the EXITO office one day, stressed and in tears. I was confused about the future with my many job applications being rejected. Kay Logan talked to me and shared her personal experiences and assured me that everything will be okay, and that ‘all would work out’ cliche as it sounds, everything really did work out and her words will forever stick with me.”

Despite the challenges  of moving on after EXITO, Dhale’s passion for public health knowledge and experience persisted.  After a time of uncertainty about the best next step after completing EXITO and finishing her bachelors in 2018, Dhale landed  a job as a Health Coach at Iora Primary Care, in Washington state. “At Iora, our mission is to restore humanity to health care. As a health coach, I am responsible for a panel of patients and in collaboration with other members of an integrated primary care team, we help patients meet their preventative, chronic and acute care needs.”

As a transfer student from Northern Marianas College, Dhale’s path also highlights the importance of seeking out educational opportunities on the mainland, through programs like EXITO.

"From my experience, when you come from a tiny island and move to a city as diverse as Portland, you become exposed to many different people and their ways of life. If i had my current occupation right after moving from Saipan, it may have been a hard adjustment to be in a completely different environment. Each interaction with my fellow EXITO members, mentors, RLC, professors, and classmates at PSU all contributed to my preparation for life after EXITO."

What does Dhale think about her work at present, and the move from bench science to public health? “Now, I work directly with patients and each day is different [and] always interesting. I definitely enjoy what I do. I would say success for me is that I enjoy my job, the company I work for, and am able to live comfortably.“

Fun fact about Dhale!
She started a vegan recipe page on Instagram and has 2000+ followers! This just goes to show that you can have other hobbies and interests outside of research and school. Check her page out @lovechickpea

The Diversity Program Consortium Coordination and Evaluation Center at UCLA is supported by Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health / National Institutes of General Medical Sciences under award number U54GM119024.
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