Yajaira Peña-Esparza, MS
Yajaira Peña-Esparza, MS, is a third-year doctoral fellow at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico, where she is also a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology. Her research interests include mental health disparities among Latinos living in the United States. Despite their growing numbers, Latinos continue to be underserved in the mental health sector and to face an array of social and environmental stressors. These vast mental health inequities sparked Peña-Esparza’s interest in pursuing this line of research. She is particularly interested in understanding the dynamics underlying psychopathology in the Latino population, with the ultimate goal of effecting policy change that will contribute to health equity. Her dissertation investigates risk profiles for depression in a national Latino sample. In addition, she has taken the lead role in an RWJF-funded pilot project that investigates the effectiveness of a residential treatment program for homeless and ethnically diverse individuals with substance use problems in Albuquerque, N.M.