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NMSU honors community's Public Health Heroes with awards


New Mexico State University’s Department of Public Health Sciences honored three individuals and a Las Cruces nonprofit for their work during the past year in promoting mental health awareness, community resilience, climate change action and public health workforce.

 The NMSU Public Health Heroes Awards, now in its eighth year, recognize and celebrate local public health heroes for their ongoing contributions and commitments to public health. This year, Humaira Rahman, assistant professor of public health sciences, led the award ceremony.

Héctor Luis Díaz, head of NMSU’s Department of Public Health Sciences in the College of Health, Education and Social Transformation, presented the awards in May with others from the department.

Jardin de Los Niños received the Community Organization/Program Public Health Hero Award, which recognizes an organization or program that provides excellent services and integrates the value of health into the community. Jardin is a Las Cruces nonprofit that serves homeless and near homeless children and their families through childcare, education and community resources. It has a five-star early childhood educational program certified by the FOCUS Program of New Mexico.

Jardin CEO Michelle Saenz-Adames accepted the award on behalf of the organization.

Dave DuBois, state climatologist for New Mexico, received the individual Public Health Hero Award. The award recognizes a recipient who provides distinguished services to the community and significant contributions as a leader in developing healthier communities.

DuBois assesses the effects of climate on the natural environment, agricultural production, land and natural resources and human health in New Mexico. His duties include providing climatological data services and assessments and climate information and education to the public through speaking engagements, school demonstrations and tours.

DuBois also teaches in NMSU’s Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. His research interests center around the effects of meteorology and climate on air quality.

Juan Carlos Padilla, an NMSU alumnus who recently earned a master’s degree in public health, received the Rising Public Health Hero Award, which recognizes a rising public health professional in Doña Ana County who promotes healthy communities

Padilla now works at Ben Archer Health Center in Columbus, New Mexico. Ben Archer is health care provider that has 11 locations in southern New Mexico. Its mission is to improve the health status of underserved populations through illness prevention and promoting health education.

NMSU Department of Public Health Sciences