November 7, 2016 Edition
This past May, Dr. Lisa Palacios completed her dissertation in Educational Leadership concentration in Higher Education with the study of five first generation Latino women on the path to finishing or completing their master’s degrees in educational leadership. She collected a story of what propelled them through their achievements, goals, and struggles. All five faced health issues while trying to finish their programs and had to put things like marriage and childbirth on hold. All five focused on working with other underserved communities. Dr. Palacios compared them to different Aztec and Mayan goddesses as well as popular super-heroines, seeing how they fulfilled the models of each.
That’s Dr. Palacios’s gift, to see the layers in which a person is motivated to do good in her community, even extending that into the fantastic and surreal. She considers her dissertation one of the best things she has ever done, simply because of the amazing women she interviewed and got to tell their everyday stories which normally go unheard.
It’s because of her commitment to projects like this that Dr. Palacios felt a calling in August to start as the College of Education and Health Science’s (CEHS) new Associate Dean. TUC and CEHS’s focus on underserved communities, social justice, and equity issues is deeply personal to her.
“I was really blown away by the mission,” she says, “and it was definitely aligned with my personal values.” She continues, “I felt like everyone lived and breathed and talked about that mission. There’s one thing where you say it’s a mission, but when people are actually all saying the same thing and their work is enacting that mission, that’s a really powerful message.”
Dr. Palacios is creatively inclined, and she writes fiction and music that engages with her academic projects from a feminist perspective. She’s very warm and approachable, and you can see right away that she’s interested in collaborating to address the needs of others.
Dr. Palacios is eager to build relationships with the community, especially to address local homelessness. CEHS has made alleviating homelessness one of its chief objectives. For Dr. Palacios, it’s about enabling people to pursue their dreams of helping others.
“I really serve my faculty and staff and students in this college,” she says. “It’s really their ideas and creativity that I want to harness. I have my own ideas, but I want to make sure it’s all of us that own this initiative and not just the administration.”
She was previously the Associate Dean of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. There she helped establish the school’s first career fair for both undergraduate and graduate students in the area of Health Professions with another colleague in Arts, Letters and Sciences, Dr. Carmen Robinson. She coordinated the first student success center in the College of Education and Health Professions to help students, especially those at risk, stay or get back on track. She even saw to the implementation of a university-wide career closet to make sure that the students who needed suits for the career fair and interviews had them, along with Dr. Carmen Robinson.
Dr. Palacios wants her work to benefit whole communities. Holistic wellness that emphasizes preventionist medicine and understanding your patient is something that she wants to support with her own unique skillset.
And it is by helping students in the Education and Health Sciences Program to achieve their goals of helping others that Dr. Palacios wishes to continue her work in empathy with a wide perspective.
If Dr. Palacios’s story inspires you, please come to the finale of the Public Health Social Justice Event, Understanding Homelessness, Thursday, November 10th at 6:30 pm at Touro University California's Lander Auditorium.
Do you have any quirky hobbies, interests, or expertise?
Most people like to program things to create software. I really enjoy programming to solve really complex math problems (Applications of Laplace and Fourier Transforms, Machine Learning, Linear Algebra, etc). I basically code for math, while most people do math for code. If I were to create an analogy for Math, Math would be that person I committed to who is WAY out of my league, but it’s a great relationship because [Math] will never cease to amaze and fascinate me. I SOMETIMES catch myself daydreaming about these problems. Haha.
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