Meet the Team: Flora Liao, Training and Technical Assistance Intern, and Tiffany Hirokawa, Infectious Diseases Intern

Welcome to our blog series, “Meet the AAPCHO Team,” where you’ll have a chance to get to know our staff! Meet two of our summer interns, Flora Liao, Training and Technical Assistance Intern, and Tiffany Hirokawa, Infectious Diseases Intern, as they answer a few questions!

Flora Liao

How did you hear about AAPCHO?

I first heard about AAPCHO through Health Career Connection (HCC), a national nonprofit that provides undergraduates and recent graduates the opportunity to pursue healthcare and public health careers. Through HCC, I interned with AAPCHO as the Training and Technical Assistance Intern.

Who is an Asian American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander health champion that you think people should know about?

An Asian American health champion that people should know about is Dr. Elsa Pao, O.D. She is an optometrist who has opened an eyecare clinic in the heart of Chinatown in Oakland, CA to provide eyecare services to local citizens, who are mostly non-English speaking and low-income.

What are you most looking forward to during your internship with AAPCHO?

I am looking forward to acquiring new skills and learning about the health of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. I have improved my design skills in addition to developing data analysis capabilities. I have also learned about the different effects of social determinants on the health of people in different communities.

What are your plans after your internship with AAPCHO?

After interning with AAPCHO, I will pursue a career in Project / Program Management because I enjoy planning, coordinating, and implementing projects. Since I am interested in both the field of public health and technology, I am hoping to pursue a career in digital health in the future.

What is your favorite or go-to childhood comfort food?

I have many favorite childhood foods from sweet to savory. For sweets, I enjoy pineapple bun which is a sweet bun that does not actually contain pineapple but gets the name from the topping look. For savory, I love Chinese scallion pancake which is a flatbread made of dough and minced scallion that is pan-fried which makes it crispy and chewy at the same time.

Tiffany Hirokawa

How did you hear about AAPCHO?

I first heard about AAPCHO through the program, Health Career Connections (HCC). HCC connects students from underrepresented backgrounds across the nation with organizations in all health sectors. Based on my desire to work in community health, particularly in underserved communities, the HCC team thought I would be a good match with AAPCHO and connected me with them for an interview. Fortunately, AAPCHO thought the same.

Who is an Asian American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander health champion that you think people should know about?

During my internship with AAPCHO, I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with Dr. Sheldon Riklon, who is one of two Marshallese practicing physicians in the U.S. Dr. Riklon works directly with the Marshallese community and other underserved populations in Arkansas as a family physician. Mindful of the history of nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands and disparities within pacific islander communities, Dr. Riklon strives to foster health equity through his patient-centered health research, emphasis on family and community-centered models for chronic disease management, and call for increased accessibility to culturally and linguistically competent health care services.

What are you most looking forward to during your internship with AAPCHO?

In reality, I am nearing the end of my internship; however, I am grateful to have learned more about the types of health challenges that our AA and NH/PI communities face and how they intersect with healthcare, policy, language accessibility, immigration status, and so on. Not only do these inequities continue to fuel my desire to enter healthcare, but also open my eyes to other advocacy avenues. With this in mind, I have also gained exposure to other aspects of healthcare including health policies like public charge and discrimination protection provisions, something that I knew very little about at the beginning of my internship, but am now curious to explore. Finally, I am so inspired by the work of the health leaders that AAPCHO works with, both at the community level up into government. I feel empowered knowing there are others, like AAPCHO, dedicated to addressing health inequities within our AA and NH/PI communities.

What are your plans after your internship with AAPCHO?

After my internship with AAPCHO, I plan on finishing my fourth year at the University of California, Davis, earning my degree in neurobiology, physiology, and behavior (NPB) with a minor in sociocultural anthropology. Following this, I intend to pursue my master’s in public health and gain more experience working in community health. After, I hope to pursue medical school using my public health scope to inform my practice as a physician working in primary care.

What is your favorite or go-to childhood comfort food?

My favorite childhood comfort food is a bowl of hot udon noodle soup. The dish consists of thick and chewy Japanese udon noodles topped with green onions, fish cakes, and sometimes bonito flakes. Every year on my birthday, my family and I go to my favorite noodle house shop for udon, making it particularly close to my heart.

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AAPCHO

AAPCHO

The Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations — dedicated to promoting advocacy, collaboration and leadership to improve AA and NHPI health.

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