Mayra Muratalla Muñoz receives Latinx Scholars Fellowship for advocacy work in Latinx communities

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Current Online Master of Public Health (MPH) student Mayra Muratalla Muñoz has received the Latinx Scholars Graduate School Fellowship for her engagement with Latinx communities, particularly her advocacy work for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. The fellowship, awarded by the Office of Graduate Student Equity & Excellence (GSEE), was established to provide financial assistance to UW graduate students who have a commitment to Latinx communities, which Muratalla Muñoz demonstrates through her focus on research, policy advocacy, and social justice in the Online MPH program, in addition to her work as Certified Sexual and Domestic Violence Advocate at SafePlace in Olympia, WA.

At SafePlace, Muratalla Muñoz provides both medical forensic exam advocacy and legal advocacy at preliminary hearings for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. As a bilingual Latinx survivor who has faced injustices and inadequacies from medical and legal systems herself, she works with Spanish-speaking survivors to make sure they receive the same resources and support that English-speaking survivors receive, including help filling out applications, protection orders, housing applications, and enrolling survivors in the Address Confidentiality Program.

“This work means a lot to me because I understand the complexity Latinx survivors must navigate when seeking justice or safety; how citizenship status, machismo culture’s impact on all genders, and family systems, are huge barriers for Latinx survivors to come forward,” said Muratalla Muñoz. “I am committed to helping identify and remove barriers that make it difficult for survivors to seek justice. I have witnessed and experienced first-hand the harm current policies have on survivors, especially in Washington state, where the system’s current safety measures and protection orders often fall short of adequately safeguarding survivors.” With goals to become a more effective leader in her community and create policies that are equitable and serve survivors without harm, Muratalla Muñoz decided to pursue her MPH at the UW.

“Mayra’s academic excellence is a testament to her resilience and perseverance,” said Miruna Buta, PhD, professor and Program Director of the Online MPH program. “She is the first in her family to obtain a high school diploma, a college degree, and to attend graduate school. She has maintained a 4.0 GPA while dealing with a disability, several surgeries, and being a sexual violence survivor. Gaining an MPH degree will allow Ms. Muñoz to build on the knowledge and skills obtained during her undergraduate studies in Medical Anthropology and Global Health and provide her with the advanced tools she needs to further advocate for marginalized communities. She has already demonstrated her passion and leadership potential and is bound to have an impact in the field of public health for Latinx communities.”

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