When Jennifer Cruz, ’16, was 13 years old, she lost her mother to cancer. Cruz brings first-hand knowledge of the impact of cancer not only on the patients but also their families as a 2016 Fulbright scholar.
While at Seattle U, the psychology major and student-athlete focused her academics and service learning opportunities on helping people cope with the life-altering diagnosis that comes with cancer. As an alum and now Fulbright, her mission continues: currently she is working on a cancer-prevention project in India.
It’s a part of the world familiar to Cruz, who first visited the country through a service abroad program through SU’s Calcutta Club. For the immersion trip Cruz assisted Mother Theresa’s Missionaries of Charity in the care of destitute and dying adults in hospice.
Closer to home, Cruz interned at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The Hutch, one of the leading cancer research centers in the world, was analyzing quantitative and qualitative data from health providers in the Yakima Valley to determine the best ways to improve outcomes and reduce stress for cancer patients.
“Minorities and low-income populations tend to have more relapses of cancer,” Cruz says. “Getting to an appointment can be difficult if work, child care and transportation create barriers. Sometimes there is a language barrier between the medical staff and the patients and their families. We wanted to see if increased access to resources and support groups would be helpful.”
For her Fulbright in India, Cruz is conducting research with the Institute of Cytology and Preventive Oncology (ICPO) and RTI International, an independent, nonprofit institute that provides research, development and technical services to governments and commercial clients.
“Cancer rates are skyrocketing in India,” she says. “ICPO and RTI have developed a phone app and website to help rural doctors access critical information about cancer and cancer prevention,” she says. “The research will determine its effectiveness.”
There were six students and alumni of Seattle University awarded Fulbrights for 2016-17, a record number for the university.
Here is the full list of recipients and where their Fulbright will take them:
Stuart Haruyama, History; Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA), Turkey
Lara Gooding, International Studies; Fulbright ETA, Rwanda
Helen Packer, Humanities/English; Fulbright ETA, South Korea
Jennifer Cruz, Psychology; Fulbright Research Grant, India
Meme Garcia-Cosgrove, Theater; Fulbright Study Grant, United Kingdom
Hannah Nia, Environmental Studies; Fulbright ETA, Colombia