Newswise — PHILADELPHIA (April 20, 2021) – This is the highest honor bestowed by the Mexican Government to individuals and organizations that have stood out for their work in favor of the empowerment of the Mexican diaspora and helped to “open the path” for the new Mexican American and Latino generations.

The Institute of Mexicans Abroad (IME), through the Consulate of Mexico in Philadelphia, is pleased to announce that the Consul of Mexico Carlos Obrador Garrido, will present the prestigious Ohtli Award to Dr. Antonia M. Villarruel, Professor and Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing on Thursday, May 6, 2021.   The ceremony will be broadcast live at 6:00 PM through the Facebook account of this consular representation (@ConsulmexFila).

Since 1996, the Government of Mexico has conferred this distinction on individuals and organizations that, through their professional and personal achievements, have helped the integration and empowerment of the Mexican diaspora and have paved the way for new generations of young people of Mexican origin to develop their potential in order to foster the well-being and improve the quality of life of their families and communities.

On this occasion, recognition of the work undertaken by Dr. Villarruel makes it possible to elevate and celebrate the efforts of nurses and health care workers, especially in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as highlight that it is the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.

As Dean of the School of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Villarruel's leadership across the school's nursing research, education, and practice mission has resulted in positive impact in the ongoing effort to improve equity and access to health care in communities around the world.

In addition, Dr. Villarruel has dedicated much of her professional life to serving Latino communities in the area of public health. She has been at the forefront of the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center for Nursing and Midwifery Leadership’s efforts to reduce maternal mortality in Latin America, and is a co-founder of the first doctoral program of nursing in Mexico at the Autonomous University of Nuevo León, contributing substantially to the training of hundreds of highly specialized educators and researchers in Mexico.

Moreover, she is the founder of a program that has been implemented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called ¡Cuídate!, an initiative that aims to reduce risky sexual behavior among Latino adolescents in order to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Dr. Villarruel's outstanding work in academia and public health has had a significant impact in promoting equitable access to high-quality health services, both in Mexico and in the United States.

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Ohtli is a Nahuatl word that means path. The renowned researcher Miguel León Portilla described it in the following way: In the codices the paths are marked with footprints. This is how the different directions where women and men went were marked. Meanwhile, the Nahua poets wondered, what is the path that the heart should follow? There is an answer that appears in the codices: Melahuac Ohtli, the straight path, the one that will lead you to your destiny. When the Nahuas said, and those who keep their language alive today to say, goodbye, they use the phrase Cualli Ohtli! (Good road!), referring to the one you, I and all of us must walk through. 

About the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing 

The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing is one of the world’s leading schools of nursing. For the sixth year in a row, it is ranked the #1 nursing school in the world by QS University and is consistently ranked highly in the U.S. News & World Report annual list of best graduate schools. Penn Nursing is ranked as one of the top schools of nursing in funding from the National Institutes of Health. Penn Nursing prepares nurse scientists and nurse leaders to meet the health needs of a global society through innovation in research, education, and practice. Follow Penn Nursing on: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, & Instagram.