Our Coaches: Jake

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.