Katarina Sanchez Awarded Latino Center for Health Fellowship

February 13, 2024

A graduate student in EWU’s physical therapy program, Katarina Sanchez, was recently awarded a $5,000 fellowship from the Latino Center for Health at the University of Washington.

The fellowship, which includes matching funds through the College of Health Science and Public Health, will provide Sanchez with financial support to advance her career goal of promoting the health and wellness of Latinx communities throughout Washington. She was one of just 13 graduate students in the state to receive the honor.

For Sanchez, the fellowship is more than just a check. It will also give her the opportunity to meet fellow Latinx health students across the state, and to network with Latinx health-care providers.

“Meeting other people with a Hispanic background felt like it bridged a personal gap for me,” Sanchez says. “I am a part of the Latinx community and I also get to serve it.” Several times over the quarter, Sanchez will meet with the other fellowship recipients and the LCH-fellowship director.

In her application, Sanchez spoke about the ways in which she hopes to serve the Latinx community. After graduating from the physical therapy program later this year, she hopes to work in an outpatient clinic. “I see the need for a Spanish speaking individual in the clinic, and it’s even better if they’re the one providing the care.”

Once she has experience in the field, Sanchez aims to provide pro bono services designed specifically for Spanish speaking laborers. “I hope that I can be a resource for them,” Sanchez says. “I want them to know that getting help doesn’t mean weakness.”

Sanchez’s father was a migrant worker, so this particular cause hits close to home for her. Because many of these workers don’t have access to quality care, she says, addressing disparities in care is crucial.

The first step towards her goal of breaking down health care barriers for the Latinx community is improving her own Spanish.

“Not enough practitioners speak Spanish, and so much can get lost in translation,” Sanchez explains. Following her graduation next quarter, Sanchez says she is planning to travel to Puerto Rico for a month long language-immersion trip. The trip will help her connect with her Hispanic heritage and strengthen her Spanish language skills.

While she’s excited for the future, Sanchez is grateful for her time at EWU. As a student, she says, she feels valued and supported: “You get the sense that everyone [at EWU] cares about you and the future of physical therapy.”

Beyond the professors and staff, she explains that her cohort is incredibly close. When her Dad suffered a major health issue, Sanchez had the support of all those in her physical therapy program.

After three years in the program, she says she is looking forward to beginning her career.

“I love physical therapy because you have to motivate a person to help themselves,” Sanchez says. “We offer active treatment and show people what they’re capable of, and how they can support their own body.”