Dr. Christina Ly graduated with a Ph.D. in Public Health with a concentration in Behavioral Sciences and a minor in Epidemiology from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, School of Public Health in Austin, Texas, where she is also currently a postdoctoral research fellow. During her postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Ly is currently collaborating on research, presentations, and publications with the Texas Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (TCORS) on Youth and Young Adults. Her work with the Texas TCORS includes coordinating the collection of point- of – sale tobacco retailer, marketing, and promotion data as part of a rapid response surveillance system to monitor and respond to changes in tobacco marketing and trends in youth and young adult tobacco use, specifically regarding alternative tobacco products. Dr. Ly’s research interests include various issues relevant to youth and young adult health (tobacco, alcohol, nutrition, and physical activity), including school- based prevention and health promotion programs. She has collaborated on grant-funded research at The University of Texas at Austin in the Health Promotion Research Center to prevent high-risk drinking among college students and was an interim instructor of the Alcohol and Drug Education Program (ADEP). She has presented at national and international conferences on her collaborative work in childhood obesity prevention, child health legislative policy, young adult high risk drinking prevention, and youth and young adult tobacco research.
Dr. Ly graduated from Texas A&M University with a B.S. in Biology and from Texas A&M Health
Science Center, School of Public Health with a M.P.H. in Social and Behavioral Health. In her free time she enjoys traveling, running, hiking, playing tennis, cooking, volunteer tutoring, and spending good quality time with friends and family.
What do you appreciate the most about your Asian/Pacific American Heritage?
I am Chinese-Cambodian American, and my parents both lived and met in Vietnam, so what I appreciate the most about my own personal Asian/Pacific American Heritage is just the melting pot of different cultures that I grew up in. Teochew, Khmer, Vietnamese, Mandarin, and English are common languages spoken within my household. An example of a typical weeknight growing up would be me doing U.S. History homework to the sounds of Cambodian soap operas, classic Chinese Teresa Teng songs, and my mother beating garlic and chili to make homemade Vietnamese nước chấm. I celebrate three different New Years: Gregorian, Lunar, and Cambodian, and I love wearing the traditional qi pao or Khmer silk sarongs. Also don’t get me started on the food. I love to eat, and I might be slightly biased but Asian food is simply the best in the world! So from the languages and music to the traditional clothing and food –I value celebrating, respecting, and cherishing each distinctly different facet of my Asian American heritage.
How do you support/celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month?
During Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, there’s even more so an awareness, appreciation, and pride in what there is to celebrate about Asian/Pacific American culture. I live in Austin, Texas, and we have a ‘CelebrASIA’ event at the Asian American Resource Center that showcases the food, music, dancing, art, and stories of local Asian community organizations and Austinites. I enjoy participating in these types of events throughout the month, and I also like to travel to and experience different Asian/Pacific American cultures when I can. Last May I was able to visit Hawaii and bounce around the islands while immersing myself in the local music, dancing, and food. This May, I’ll be traveling to Japan, Vietnam, and Cambodia; and, while these are travels not in the U.S., to me it’s still a way for me to appreciate and celebrate the origins of our Asian culture.
What do you hope people gain from Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month?
Respect. Open-mindedness. For individuals to step out of their comfort zones and to experience something that they never have before. This goes for everyone. I might have grown up in such a mix of different Asian cultures, but I do remember being blown away the first time I watched a traditional Filipino tinikling dance or tried Korean tteok. With each new experience, there comes this respect, appreciation, and acceptance that continues to grow and brings us all together. And, not to get too political, I feel as if we all need this now, more than ever. That, and science. We all need science.