As a member of the Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO), Rutgers University in Camden Assistant Professor of Nursing Jamille Nagtalon-Ramos belongs to a highly selective network of leaders dedicated to advancing U.S.-Philippine relations. Earlier this year, Nagtalon-Ramos and 14 other FYLPRO delegates embarked on a weeklong trip to Manila, Philippines, to interact with government officials and other prominent figures in the areas of business, culture, and civil society. Nagtalon-Ramos, a third-generation nurse and native of the Philippines who researches health disparities, reproductive practices, and intergenerational communication, gained crucial insights for a study aimed at addressing the country's teen-pregnancy crisis.
Nagtalon-Ramos said her experience in the delegation was a chance to connect more deeply with the motherland's culture and communities while collaborating with FYLPRO on a study funded by a Global Health Seed Grant from the Rutgers Global Health Institute. The project explores how young women in urban areas of the Philippines obtain reproductive health information and how this ultimately impacts their attitudes and behaviors in obtaining care.
“My research interests have been fueled by my cultural roots and clinical expertise,” Nagtalon-Ramos said. "I am deeply interested in investigating the Filipino American experience and the role that family, culture, and the community play in influencing health outcomes. I will always be grateful that I not only worked with other leaders as part of this cohort, but that I was able to meet so many young people and their loved ones, who stand to benefit from the cohort’s work.”
Nagtalon-Ramos recently launched three studies focused on better understanding the sexual and reproductive health knowledge and attitudes among Filipina American adults.
“Filipino cultural values such as hiya—which represents shame or embarrassment and can be derived from religious beliefs—played a role in the sexual health communication between Filipino American parents and their children,” Nagtalon-Ramos said. “The Filipino American young adults who participated in my study said that their parents generally avoided conversations about puberty and sex, so they had to search for information on their own. I found that the Tita, which means aunt or auntie in Tagalog, serves as a trusted confidante and is perceived as a reliable source of information.”
Acknowledging Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Nagtalon-Ramos encouraged others to incorporate individual culture and heritage into their scholarship and stressed that experiencing different cultures through travel—whether returning to familiar areas or discovering new ones—can help everyone to better understand each other.
“I would absolutely recommend that other members of the Rutgers–Camden community immerse themselves in their own culture or different cultures when they have the opportunity to do so,” Nagtalon-Ramos said. “This can take research in new directions and help each of us become more in touch with the importance of heritage.”
*During National Nurses Week, Rutgers–Camden is celebrating its nursing students, faculty, and alumni.
Rutgers University in Camden continues to recognize and celebrate our rich diversity. In recognition of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) Heritage Month, the Office of Marketing and Communications will present a monthlong series of stories showcasing the research, scholarship, and humanitarian efforts of our AA and NHPI faculty and students. Despite facing historical discrimination that persists to this day, these individuals draw inspiration from their heritage as they work to confront a variety of societal problems rooted in public policy, the physical sciences, technology, and more.
Creative Design: Beatris Santos