Gracia Vargas (Stamford, CT) is a pre-med Global Affairs major studying International Development. She has always wanted to be a doctor, and growing up in a Guatemalan family made her especially aware of the special need for doctors to serve the poor in Latin America and within immigrant communities in the US. She hopes that her undergraduate experience at Yale will prepare her both for medical school and for work in development. Gracia is active in various organizations on Yale's campus. She volunteers at the HAVEN Free Clinic as a Spanish interpreter, and serves as 2015 representative to the Davenport College Council. She is a co-captain and goalkeeper for the women's club lacrosse team and is involved with Yspaniola, an NGO founded by Yale students in 2005 that focuses on community development in the bateys of the Dominican Republic through education.
- Dominican Republic2014Research
Research on populations of migrant workers around the globe
demonstrate that these groups are often subject to poor socioeconomic
conditions and are exposed to discrimination, violence, and exploitation.
In the Dominican Republic, there is a large population of migrants from
Haiti that is confined to poor rural shantytown communities called
bateys; here, they are subject to poor living conditions lacking
basic infrastructure such as potable water and waste disposal and are
the targets of widespread discrimination by Dominicans. This batey
population has been shown to have particularly negative health outcomes
in infectious diseases such as TB, dengue, malaria and HIV/AIDS, but
healthcare seeking among Haitians in bateys had not been previously
In collaboration with Global Health Fellow Lindsey
Hiebert, I conducted a cross-sectional questionnaire-based field study
from June 2014-July 2014, and explored the differences between Haitians
and Dominicans in healthcare seeking among adult household
representatives from Batey Libertad. The data analysis used Haitian
nationality as a primary explanatory variable, and various
socioeconomic indicators as covariates, to perform single and
multi-variable logistical regressions on the quantitative survey data.
While there were significant socioeconomic differences between Haitians
and Dominicans in the batey, these did not account for the disparities
in health-seeking behavior. Haitians were significantly less likely to choose to
visit private healthcare facilities for treatment.
Haitians also reported receiving lower quality of care, even
when controlling for experiences of discrimination. These findings
suggest that real disparities exist in the treatment that Haitians
receive in comparison to Dominicans, and that these disparities may
contribute to Haitians choosing not to seek healthcare in times of