Two years ago, University of Virginia faculty members Laura Barnes and Rupa Valdez were collaborating on a National Institutes of Health-funded project designed to help Latinas in a rural farming community in Florida and had three undergraduates on the team to assist with background research and data analysis. These undergraduates were Bijan Morshedi, Alexis Chaet, and Andrew Mitchell.
This year, the three students are among the winners of the Voto Latino Innovators Challenge, a $500,000 tech competition that asks Latino millenials to “think of a way tech can be used to make life better for Latinos,” and then provides winners with the funds, training and partners to make their idea a reality. The trio submitted one of seven winning concepts addressing a variety of needs in Latino communities around the country. Their entry, “Designing Culturally-Competent Health IT for the U.S. Latino Migrant Farmworker Population,” was inspired by the work they did with Barnes and Valdez.
Their vision? A multimedia platform designed for low-literacy populations that delivers medical information and education to migrant workers. The platform will consist of a personalized video library of health topics loaded onto a tablet and installed in five migrant work camps in rural Virginia next year.
“Someday, this project might serve as a model for bridging gaps in health information access and communication barriers within limited-English-proficiency populations living in isolated communities.”
Mitchell added, “I feel extremely privileged to be involved in this project as its purpose not only directly helps the migrant Latino community, it also illustrates the merging of health information with technology.”
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