The Boston Public Health Commission has named UMass Boston gerontology doctoral student Adriana Hernandez to its Boston BOLD Stakeholder Coalition. Hernandez, who holds the university’s inaugural Frank Caro Scholarship for Social Justice in Aging, will help shape the City of Boston’s efforts to meet the needs of residents at highest risk of dementia and who bear the largest burden of dementia caregiving—specifically African American, Black, Hispanic, Latinx, and low-income residents.

The public health commission created its Boston BOLD project with a two-year, $700,000 grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy Brain Initiative. The project’s goal is to create a strategic plan for the city to meet the needs of residents living with or at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias as well as support their caregivers.

Hernandez’s research interests center around Alzheimer’s and dementia care, health outcomes for incarcerated older adults, and health disparities in older Latino communities. As a coalition member, she is representing the Gerontology Institute’s Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging (CSDRA), where she works as a graduate research assistant. She hopes to contribute her knowledge of the misconceptions Latino communities have about Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias.

“To address disparities, we must first acknowledge the misconceptions that prevent these communities from seeking treatment and from taking preventive measures,” Hernandez says. “By doing so, we can educate them while simultaneously promoting healthy behaviors that lead to risk reduction.”

“This appointment is a wonderful example of how we connect students with real-world opportunities to use their knowledge and skills and advance their research interests,” says CSDRA Director Caitlin Coyle, PhD ‘14.