Career Spotlight: Claudia Lujan

Entrepreneur/Writer 

Young Latinos across the nation are making advances in professional fields that we were often underrepresented in. An aspiring writer and half-marathoner on her off time, Claudia Luján is now immersing herself in the entrepreneurship culture after graduating college. This is her story.   

Claudia Lujan always displayed at intellectual curiosity for the world around her in her hometown of El Paso, Texas. Immersing herself from literature to understanding the complexity of a cell, her desire to learn helped her get into Swarthmore College. Being in one of the best liberal arts in the nation, Lujan was able to explore her passions and continue asking questions.

Although she enjoyed her college time and was ready to move on to the next chapter in her life, Lujan didn’t graduate this year without having made an impact on her campus and her community. Having double majored in Biology and English Literature, she explored opportunities that would give her further insight into these seemingly opposite worlds.

She was a research intern at the National Institutes of Health in Phoenix, Arizona, in the summer of 2013 where she studied the role of cortisol in gestational diabetes in Native American women. Lujan wanted to study “if physical manifestation of disease was due to the Native American [traumatic historical] experience.” She realized through this internship that doctors tend to ignore the “social environment that people exists and live in” and it prompted her to become involved in Public Health for her remaining college years.

“I wanted to create social good and Public Health was the answer,” reflects Lujan. “Public Health is an avenue in which to close disparities among people.”

Lujan was an active member of Global Health Forum at Swarthmore, acting as the executive board member and coordinator for about three years. There she helped raise several thousand dollars for the organization, coordinated panel discussions and promoted health education on topics such as AIDS, vaccines, and medical tourism.

She was co-creator of non-profit organization in 2014 with a Swarthmore alumni that focused on “social-economic healthcare and racial dimension of cancer care” in Santa Clare County, California. The non-profit, ERACE Cancer, operated under supervision of the Department of Oncology in Stanford University. The team was able to reach out to the community to identify their needs and come up with solutions about the cancer care.

Searching for a way to combine her writing and science skills, she founded, and was editor-in-chief, of the Swarthmore Journal of Science. This magazine represented the first journalism publication of the college and an excerpt in the first publication explains why the magazine was created. The editors explained how in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, there seemed to be an “underepresentation of women and people of color.” This magazine drove to provide a platform where “students from a variety of scientific backgrounds…can share their experience [in an attempt to ask] questions, share their work, and engage in conversations…”

Struggling on how to continue doing social good, Lujan soon realized that she can still achieve the same thing but though entrepreneurship. She applied to Venture for America, a two year entrepreneurship fellowship designed to recruit top graduates across the nation to create startups in cities that need revitalization. Accepted into the competitive program, she embarked on her new journey after graduation.

She recently finished a six-week training in marketing, business development, and startup culture at Brown University and will soon start working in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She will be working for Message Agency, a corporation that creates websites for non-profits across the nation.

Undoubtedly Lujan has been successful in her field, but what drives her?

“A great deal of it comes from my family and El Paso. Although it’s home, the city had a lot of problems that had racial and socioeconomic dimensions. I was very frustrated to live within that system. It led me to push the boundaries of what I could do.” she adds.

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