University of Washington School of Public Health
Undergraduate Student Profile
Cristal Rangel Peña
Senior, Public Health and American Ethnic Studies
Hometown: Everett, WA
Congratulations on becoming the new director for ASUW’s La Raza Commission! What do you hope to accomplish in this role?
The ASUW La Raza Commission is an organization that provides support for Latinx and Chicanx students on campus. As director, I hope to use my voice and platform to advocate for students' needs. I want to create more events and resources for students with intersecting identities, such as those who are undocumented or queer and transgender.
What have you learned from this experience?
I have grown so much as a leader. I’ve learned how to put others’ needs above my own and how to empower and advocate for others without speaking over them.
What other groups are you involved with?
I’ve worked at the UW School of Dentistry for the past three years as an office assistant, and I’ve volunteered with the UW Dream Project, 21 Progress and Harborview Medical Center. I’ve also served as ASUW Senator for the past two years.
What experience has been the most influential?
One of the first organizations I became involved with was Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán, or MEChA. It’s a social justice organization that aims to promote higher education and culture across the UW campus and in Seattle’s communities. Joining this group allowed me to reflect on the history of Chicanos—my people—and the oppression they continue to face today. It has been a major motivation towards activism and social justice.
How does your passion for social justice fit into your studies in public health?
I originally declared my major in American Ethnic Studies. However, I realized there was a lot of overlap between health and social justice, and I found that connection within the Public Health Major.
What do you think is most interesting about the field of public health?
I love how open ended the field is. It encompasses the natural sciences, social justice, medicine and community health. With public health, the limits are endless.
What are your professional goals?
After graduation, I plan to pursue a Master’s in Public Health with a focus on community-oriented public health. Ultimately, I hope to find solutions to underlying health disparities in marginalized communities.
Please share an interesting, unique or quirky fact about yourself.
I put hot sauce on everything, so you can usually catch me carrying around a bottle of Tapatio in my backpack.