PJ is part of the Los Angeles Fellows Team. He is currently a Project Manager for the Health of Philippine Emigrants Study (HoPES). 

“Being the first natural born U.S. citizen in a family of immigrants, I hold this project very dear to my heart as it pertains directly to the Filipino community and it aligns with my passion in Public Health.  Not everyone is so lucky to live the best of both worlds. I feel extremely blessed to have the opportunity to give back to my community through this project, as well as provide valuable evidence-based information to future Filipino migrants.”

About the study:

The Health of Philippine Emigrants Study, or HoPES, is a collaborative effort between researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Public Health, the University of Washington School of Nursing, the University of the Philippines Population Institute and Demographic Research and Development Foundation, and the University of San Carlos Office of Population Studies.

Initial data collection for the study took place in the Philippines prior to migrants leaving for the United States. This allows us to analyze the outcome of migrating to the United States on an individual’s health. Information collected during this study will help us observe changes in general health status and chronic diseases, food and beverage consumption habits, attitudes and beliefs, stress levels, and smoking and drinking habits among Philippine migrants.

My role:

I started as a Research Assistant for HoPES in September 2018 and took on the role of Project Manager in May 2019.  My current duties as Project Manager include:

  • Help assess current project needs to plan all management and work group meetings; organize and deliver meeting notes and maintain archives of meetings and monitor progress on action items determined through these meetings.
  • Develop, communicate, monitor and update timelines and strategies in meeting project goals across all study sites.
  • Work with fund manager to ensure funding agency compliance; assist PI with completion of progress reports and correspond with funding agencies on progress reports.
  • Prepare and manage IRB/human subject documentation for research project and documents for collaborating organizations with human subjects approval processes.
  • Supervise research staff in administering project-related duties and tasks.
  • Liaison with key stakeholders to develop relationships to improve intervention implementation.
  • Help develop, plan, oversee and evaluate the implementation of training and follow up technical assistance.
  • Assist in the writing, editing and formatting of articles for publication in peer- reviewed journals and provide overall coordination of manuscript preparation.
  • Independently search for additional contract/grant funding opportunities to supplement existing research dollars.
  • Assist PI in writing, editing, and submission of additional funding/research proposals.

We  provide resources to study participants on our monthly newsletters as well as per request.  Since we have more than 900 migrants all over the United States, we try our best to look for resources depending on the inquiry and location.  We also provide resources on our Facebook page. We are approaching our final wave of data collection later this year and will have results on the study by Fall 2021.

You can find more information about HoPES on our website – https://hopesstudy.weebly.com.

Jake is our coach for the Southern California Students Team and also a long-time APPEAL leadership participant and supporter!


Public Health wasn’t a direct career pathway. To no surprise, I started with a pursuit for a career in medicine. It turned out to be more of a challenge than something I enjoyed. I pivoted and found public health. Thankfully, it was the best decision I have ever made.

After graduating with my MPH in 2016, I did a leadership training with APPEAL in which the experience has been the catalyst to a lot of my work and research interests as a current doctoral student and professional in Public Health.

As a doctoral student and thriving researcher, I consider my identity and privilege in my work. I understand that I come from and represent communities that are underrepresented and underserved, and it is my “Kuleana” or duty to uplift them.

Studying public health has been both frustrating and empowering. It is frustrating to learn about the inequities and health disparities especially in the communities I represent. I take this to also be empowering because I have the privilege and opportunity as a member of my community to bridge those gaps and contribute to providing solutions.

In my current research, I am investigating the effectiveness of existing health education materials on tobacco, cancer and healthy activities to improve health literacy and engagement for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities. Among the AANHPI population in general, health engagement remains relatively low compared to other groups. I hope to inform creative ways of developing and delivering health information that is representative and meaningful.

More importantly, I wish to bring more representation of the diverse AANHPI communities to my research. AANHPIs are heterogeneously rich in culture and experiences. Yet, many of the present literature is unable to capture those experiences. Most agencies, particularly at the federal level present AANHPI into one or two groups. I am a huge advocate for collecting and presenting disaggregated data. Having detailed data that highlights the diversity of our communities can better guide us to create meaningful, inclusive, and equitable policies for all.

Being a part of APPEAL has given me the opportunity to connect with community members and leaders who share similar interests, concerns, and goals. The experiences have always provided fresh and invigorating perspectives in ways to optimize the promotion of health equity and other areas that I have not yet been able to explore. APPEAL continues to inspire and propel my leadership in becoming a viable resource to improve health in our communities.

Dear APPEAL Partners and Members,

First of all, I hope that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. During these very uncertain and trying times it is our individual and collective health that is most important.  We especially would like to recognize and thank those who are on the front lines for risking your own health in serving all of our communities.

As with other community organizations, the APPEAL team is observing the shelter-in-place policy in California until at least May 3. And like many of you, we are readjusting to working remotely and balancing taking care of work, our families, and ourselves.  We wanted to let you all know that APPEAL is committed to continuing our tobacco control, leadership development, and health equity efforts during this time. With smokers and vapers being more vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic, the work around tobacco cessation and control becomes increasingly important.  We are also joining with other organizations to denounce the increasing racist attacks against Asian Americans and bring awareness to equity issues such as the loss of jobs, the increased risk for those in the health industry, and the communication and technology divide in this country that determines whether it’s easy to “work from home.”

In addition to tobacco, we are continuing to advocate for health equity.  Whether focused on commercial tobacco use, healthy eating and active living, the impact of opioids on AAs and NHPIs, or COVID-19, we continue our efforts. Collaboratively. While we won’t be able to meet in-person (so important for building partnerships!), we will adjust and expand our efforts to communicate in this new world virtually through webinars, online calls, social media, and other avenues for community engagement.

We are still hoping to convene APPEAL’s 25th Anniversary Conference on September 9-10, but will not make a determination on how we will convene (in-person or virtually) just yet.  Our staff and advisory committee will continue planning for this event in the meantime.

We have partnered with many of you for years (and decades) and are so grateful for your expertise and collaborative spirit that have benefitted our communities.  We continue to look to you to see how we can best address the growing needs in our local AA and NHPI communities. Please let us know what we can do to help.

Thank you to our amazing APPEAL staff, board, and partners for your amazing commitment to continuing to serve our communities and striving for health equity.

Wishing you and yours the best of health.

In solidarity,

Rod Lew