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UA professor Joe ‘Skip’ Garcia receives award for academic contributions

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Arizona Health Sciences Center

Joe G.N. ‘Skip’ Garcia, the UA senior vice president for Health Sciences, is the recipient of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 La Estrella Award for his outstanding contributions.

Garcia said he is very flattered and grateful for having been given this special honor by the chamber of commerce.

Lea Marquez Peterson, the president and CEO of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce said that, for the last 10 years, the chamber has chosen a special honoree for the La Estrella Award who has gone above and beyond in their work and has had an impact on the Latino community.

“He has a very impressing position at the UA, but what particularly interested us about him is the work he’s doing in border health, as well as his interest and work in the lack of diversity in medical schools and programs,” Peterson said.

Peterson said she has heard Garcia speak publicly multiple times about the fast-growing Hispanic community and how, by 2035, the majority of Arizona will be Hispanic. Garcia has said that medical schools don’t reflect that growth and that we need to change that.

Garcia has only been in Arizona for two years and said he wasn’t even aware of the award until Peterson stepped into a lab meeting of his to tell him he was the recipient.

Originally from El Paso, Texas, Garcia’s career has expanded over many different institutions, including the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois, Johns Hopkins University and the UA.

“In each of these positions I’ve tried to aggressively drive an agenda that promotes diversity within our students, trainees and faculty, as well as promote a research agenda that focuses on improving health disparities,” Garcia said.

Mike Jonen, senior associate vice president of Finance and Strategy for UA Health Sciences, has worked with Garcia for over 10 years.

“I think he’s a very humble individual who leads by example and is very passionate about what he does as a physician-scientist, a healthcare executive and a mentor to trainees at every level,” Jonen said. “I wasn’t surprised he was identified as someone who is worthy of [the chamber’s] recognition. He’s someone who’s very passionate about providing opportunities to underserved and underrepresented minorities.”

Garcia was honored along with other award recipients last weekend at the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Noche de Exitos Gala.

Peterson said there were over 650 people in attendance, including dignitaries, such as Rep. Martha McSally and nine mayors, including Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, the mayor of Nogales, and seven mayors from Sonora, Mexico.

Garcia said that UA Health Sciences has a number of initiatives he thinks are very much in line with the intention of the La Estrella Award.

“We are expanding the Hispanic Center for Excellence, creating a Native American Center for Excellence and we have a health-science-wide program to create and nurture underrepresented minority students across all five of our health science colleges,” Garcia said.


Follow Chastity Laskey on Twitter.


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