The 16th annual SDSU Student Symposium (S3) hosted approximately 400 student presentations on March 3-4, 2023. Formerly known as the Student Research Symposium, this public event allows students at all stages in their careers and from any discipline to have a platform where they can showcase their research, scholarship, and creative activities. One such student was Jonathen Vazquez Ramirez, an undergraduate research assistant graduating in May 2023 with his Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH). Jonathen gave an oral presentation on the mixed-methods community-based project Examining Community Perspectives on Equitable Public Restroom Access and Quality in San Diego. He has been working on this project as part of SDSU’s multidisciplinary lab The Project for Sanitation Justice.
Jonathen saw social disparities while growing up in the 92105 zip code, a region of San Diego with high population density and low median household income, which sparked his interest in public health. “I wish to counteract these disparities for future generations in all communities,” Jonathen stated, “[and] give a voice to those who are not heard.” He originally joined The Project for Sanitation Justice through SDSU’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) summer 2022 where he began to, as he described, “dive into the complex situation of sanitation inequity in San Diego,” collecting data through a Qualtrics survey and hearing the stories of San Diegans from Santee to Chula Vista experiencing homelessness and listening to how sanitation injustices negatively impact their daily lives. The Project’s aim is to better understand the supplies that are readily available in public restrooms and then pinpoint barriers to their accessibility.
“The Project For Sanitation Justice is my first research project and has been an integral part of my learning in Public Health,” Jonathen said. The Project for Sanitation Justice is co-led by director Dr. Megan Welsh Carrol (Public Affairs), Dr. Jennifer Felner (SPH), Dr. Jerel Calzo (SPH), and Dr. Madi Swayne (Public Affairs), who Jonathen described as a diverse and passionate team of principal investigators. “They are the four pillars of support who champion for me to continue to work towards becoming a scholar for the people.”