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NMSU presents eighth annual Public Health Heroes Awards

Release Date: 01 Jun 2022
NMSU presents eighth annual Public Health Heroes Awards

New Mexico State University’s Department of Public Health Sciences honored three individuals for their work over the past year in promoting mental health awareness, community resilience, climate change action and public health workforce.

The NMSU Public Health Heroes Awards, now in its eight year, recognize and celebrate local public health heroes for their ongoing contributions and commitments to public health. This year, Humaira Rahman, assistant professor of public health sciences, led the award ceremony.

Héctor Luis Díaz, head of NMSU’s Department of Public Health Sciences in the College of Health, Education and Social Transformation, presented the awards in May with others from the department, including Rahman, Jagdish Kubchandani, professor, and Cindy Kratzke, associate professor emeritus.

“We celebrate in April each year the National Public Health Week. Our department is honored to recognize locally our dedicated community partners,” Rahman said. “Thank you for your work to protect, promote and provide great efforts for healthier communities.”

Recipients for this year’s Public Health Heroes Awards included: 

Jardin de Los Niños received the Community Organization/Program Public Health Hero Award. The award recognizes an organization or program that provides excellent services and integrates the value of health into the community.

Jardin de Los Niños is a Las Cruces-based nonprofit that serves homeless and near homeless children and their families through child care, education and community resources. It has a five-star early childhood educational program certified by the FOCUS Program of New Mexico.

Michelle Saenz-Adames, CEO of Jardin de Los Niños, accepted the award on behalf of the organization.

Dave DuBois, state climatologist for New Mexico, received the individual Public Health Hero Award. The award recognizes a recipient who provides distinguished services to the community and significant contributions as a leader in developing healthier communities.

As a state climatologist, DuBois assesses the effects of climate on the natural environment, agricultural production, land and natural resources, and human health in New Mexico. His duties include providing climatological data services and assessments and climate information and education to the public through speaking engagements, school demonstrations and tours.

DuBois also teaches in NMSU’s Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. His research interests center around the effects of meteorology and climate on air quality.

Juan Carlos Padilla, an NMSU alumnus who recently earned a master’s degree in public health, received the Rising Public Health Hero Award. The award recognizes a rising public health professional in Doña Ana County who promotes healthy communities

Padilla now works at Ben Archer Health Center in Columbus, New Mexico. Ben Archer is health care provider that has 11 locations in southern New Mexico. Its mission is to improve the health status of underserved populations through illness prevention and promoting health education.

Jill McDonald, a public health sciences professor at NMSU and Padilla’s mentor, attended his award celebration and praised his work outside the classroom. McDonald said Padilla is making a lasting public health impact through his efforts at Ben Archer.

For more information about the awards, contact Rahman at

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