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McNair Scholar 2014Crystal Yang

Crystal Yang is a senior at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, enrolled in the individualized studies program with a focus in public health, anthropology, and leadership. She is currently the co-president of ViivNcaus- Hmong Women’s Group at the University of Minnesota. Her research interests revolve around understanding the influence of culture on health practices and behaviors, and examining the cultural gap between medical practitioners and communities. Ms. Yang plans on getting her Ph.D. in public health.

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My dream is to build a non-profit organization that provides underserved populations with community-based resources needed to eliminate health disparities, and to ensure access to quality, culturally competent health care. I envision a future of healthy, equitable, and thriving communities that are committed to creating positive social change.

Research project

Lao Initiative For Eating Healthy: Making The Connection Between Sodium Intake and Hypertension in the Lao Community

Abstract: Hypertension, a cardiovascular disease, is a global public health issue. Vulnerable populations are generally unaware of current health behavior risks that could lead to hypertension. This research focuses particularly on the ethnic Lao population in the Twin Cities, Minnesota metropolitan area. In this study, the Lao Assistance Center, has initiated a project to: 1) raise awareness about hypertension and the role of sodium intake in the Lao diets, 2) teach family cooks to recognize sodium levels in foods and modify recipes to reduce the amount of sodium and 3) encourage Lao restaurant owners to consider offering lower sodium dishes to their customers. Focus group interviews with restaurant owners and course assessment with family cooks resulted in increased awareness of the link between sodium intake and hypertension. Further, there is initial evidence of behavior change in: 1) diet, 2) physical activity, and 3) modified menu options available to restaurant customers. Download poster. [PDF]

Faculty profile

Dr. Catherine Solheim is an associate professor in the Department of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota. She completed her Ph.D. in family social science at the University of Minnesota in 1990. Her research focuses on families and culture, and understanding global family systems. Dr. Solheim has published various works on topics related to financial practices within families, and exploring the impacts that economic and sociological factors have on low- to moderate- income households. She has also presented at many conferences in America and abroad.