Jamie Chang Recognized by the College of Arts and Sciences
Francisco Jiménez Reaching Out Award
In recognition of faculty and staff who, through their actions and contributions to our local and/or global community, strive to serve society’s most disadvantaged and under-served members.
Scholarship, teaching, and advocacy have always been connected for Jamie Chang, as she has focused on partnering with marginalized communities and centering their voices. Her attention to the structural vulnerabilities that shape opportunities for health and illness move the field beyond individual explanations for health disparities and highlight the need for policy change.
In her work as a co-PI for a community-based participatory research partnership with The Health Trust, Jamie has worked closely with staff, community members, and students alike to consider how places and environments shape the unmet chronic health needs of low-income Asian/Pacific Islander and Latino immigrant communities in Santa Clara County at a time of increasing anti-immigrant hostility. Jamie doesn’t just wish to hear the perspectives of research participants, but is unwavering in her commitment to hearing these stories in the contexts that shape these experiences, knowing that only then can the structural determinants of health be better understood and addressed.
Jamie is also researching the rise in unhoused deaths in Santa Clara County and has several articles under review. For this work, she collaborates with SCU faculty, students, leaders in local governmental and non-profit organizations, and homeless advocates. Jamie has sorted through ten years of data to categorize the causes of death for each unhoused person who has died in Santa Clara County. She has conducted countless hours of interviews at encampments, seeking genuine input and collaboration from unhoused people. It is noteworthy that she has involved undergraduate students in this work, both as research assistants in the field and in courses. For example, during spring 2021, Jamie taught the Public Health capstone course. For this class, she developed an IRB-approved study, in which students conducted semi-structured telephone interviews with residents of several local homeless encampments, as well as service providers, about their experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic.
But Jamie's work with the unhoused population in Santa Clara County is more than just a research program or a topic for a course. In December 2019, as part of the memorial service for homeless people who had died on the streets, she presented her findings as part of a panel at San Jose City Hall. Additionally, she volunteered her time with the SF Coalition on Homelessness, as one of the lead authors on a CBPR community-needs assessment, entitled “Stop the Revolving Door”.
A colleague writes: “She is intrepid—she can wade through government reports and statistics, master relevant academic research, and sit for hours in homeless encampments interviewing residents. In both her teaching and her research Jamie is trying to document and make visible the voices and experiences of one of the most marginalized communities in Silicon Valley, homeless men and women.”
Jamie is deeply committed to partnering with not only colleagues and local organizations, but also with unhoused people themselves, to find solutions to the risks they experience by being unsheltered. In short, Jamie is committed to working to address health issues of people who are unhoused in SCC and the Bay Area, blending academic research and advocacy, and making a direct impact on their health and wellbeing.
For her scholarship, teaching, and advocacy, Jamie Chang is a most worthy recipient of the 2021 Francisco Jiménez Reaching Out Award.