Anthropology student Lia Hsu-Rodriguez '21 "Meet the MIT Bilinguals: Health Care Equity" for MIT SHASS Said and Done
Lia's vision is to use her dual expertise in Anthropology and Biology in the public health and policy sector to reduce healthcare inequality.
Staff Writer: Alison Lanier | MIT SHASS Communications Office Said + Done Magazine | Photo: Liz Wahid
June 14, 2021
Over the course of her studies and her experience in biology and anthropology, Lia Hsu-Rodriguez has become keenly aware how economic and political systems influence individuals’ health outcomes. Some of that perspective came from deeply personal experience.
Her grandmother, an immigrant from Mexico who is not fluent in English, visited the emergency room frequently because of chronic pain, and Lia witnessed the machinery of the healthcare system try to process and dismiss her grandmother as quickly as possible. As a result, her grandmother became addicted to opioids, and at 16 Lia watched her grandmother detox in the family home.
“A lot of the ways I think about the way our healthcare system is informed by what she went through,” says Lia. “She went to rehab in her seventies for an opioid addiction that she shouldn’t have had in the first place, because the doctors didn’t care enough to fix [her pain] in a less dangerous way. I know that’s not a unique story at all. Things like what happened to her are very preventable.”
At MIT, Lia pushed herself into challenging scenarios as she strove to first understand and then to help correct some of the profound inequalities embedded in the U.S. heath-care system.