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Two women boost Hispanic representation in healthcare

ORLANDO, FL – Channel 9 has been sharing stories of the amazing things people in Central Florida’s Puerto Rican community are doing all week long.

Two healthcare workers are trying to boost Hispanic representation in the STEM workplace.

Channel 9’s Giovanni Dias spoke to the two ahead of the Florida Puerto Rican Parade and Festival.

These women want to ensure that every member of the Hispanic community, especially women, has the opportunity to succeed in STEM.

Lynette Johnson said, “If I had to tell my story, I would start with a little girl with two long braids playing with her friends in Puerto Rico.”

READ: Busy day in Orlando: Puerto Rican parade, Magic playoffs impact city traffic

This is how his journey began.

As a child, he and his family left Puerto Rico and started a new life in Central Florida.

“The journey from getting to Ocala in the 1980s, when diversity wasn’t a thing,” said Lynette Johnson, chief clinical operations officer for AdventHealth. “The first thing other kids asked me was, ‘Hey what are you?’ And he will say – I am a human being.”

Although Johnson believes her passion for helping others was born with her, one particular person played a vital role in supporting her personal mission – her abuelita.

Read: Watch the Florida Puerto Rican Parade on Channel 9

Now, she is working with AdventHealth on recruitment outreach in Latino and Hispanic communities. but that’s not all. She is also training nurses on how to care for Spanish-speaking patients within the health care system.

A powerful woman also inspired Karen Corbin.

“I love Wonder Woman – the original Lynda Carter,” said Dr. Karen Corbin, associate investigator at the Translational Research Institute. “And sometimes she wore a white lab coat because she was trained in math and science.”

Wonder Woman may have been a source of inspiration, but Corbyn—like Lynette Johnson—looked to her roots to get through some tough times.

Read: Hope Community Center helps connect Central Florida’s Puerto Rican community

He said, “My life has been an amazingly well-choreographed sequence of small miracles that took me from a little girl on the island of Puerto Rico who had never met a scientist before.” “Finally getting me to where I wanted to be – which is a science that transforms health care.”

Now, with a PhD, she uses her experience to empower other Hispanic women.

A few years ago, Corbyn founded Geeks That Speak, an organization that works with scientists whose first language is not English.

The group helps improve their communication and speaking skills, paving the way for girls and women – in Puerto Rico and beyond – who want to pursue careers in science.

Read: Local teens create platform to help students interested in volunteering in their community

“I enjoy every opportunity I get to help improve someone’s communication skills so we can advance science and bring science to the community,” Corbin said. “I would never have gotten to where I am today if I hadn’t had people encouraging me along the way.”

Both of their messages to Latinos are to keep the faith.

“You can do it. If you’re passionate about it and work hard, and this is what you want to do, you can do it. It won’t be easy, but you can do it.”

Both Lynette and Karen hope their work will inspire future STEM professionals.

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