Letter From Emily Flores

Dear Cecilia and Maria,

Emily FloresI am writing to express my heartfelt gratitude for the generous gift you made to the Michigan Center for Contextual Factors in Alzheimer’s Disease (MCCFAD) at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. Your gift to establish the Mercedes Florez Memorial Research fund is a beautiful tribute to your beloved mother and grandmother, Maria Mercedes Florez, who exemplified hard work, bravery, and kindness throughout her life. Due to language and cultural differences, my grandmother was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia, and it was not until a year later that she was properly diagnosed with Lewy body dementia. Although I was only eleven at the time of my grandmother’s diagnosis, I still remember the countless doctor’s visits and the immense frustration my mother experienced while searching for a Spanish-speaking psychologist to evaluate my grandmother. The lack of fluent Spanish-speaking psychologists is alarming, particularly in a country where Hispanics are the largest minority. This experience prompted my interest in becoming a bilingual clinical psychologist focusing on providing clinical services and conducting research on the effects of language and culture on neuropsychological assessment.

The story of Maria Mercedes Florez’s bravery and determination to provide a better life for her family is an inspiration to us all. Your designation of Alzheimer’s Disease research with a specific focus on serving the Hispanic community is a cause that is close to my heart. As a bilingual daughter of immigrants, one of my ultimate goals is to make a difference in the Hispanic community through assessment, treatment, and psychoeducation. I have a special passion for research that benefits older adults. Your gift is funding my work examining risk of financial exploitation among Spanish-speaking older adults. I am forever grateful for your support, which is helping me on my path to obtain my doctorate. I am honored to have been chosen for this award, and I will do my very best to maximize the resources to benefit the lives of older Hispanic adults by creating and validating Spanish-language measures, starting with this project.

Once again, thank you for your remarkable gift and for the lasting impact it will have on Alzheimer’s disease research and the Latino community. To maximize having a data collector available to accommodate participants’ schedules, with this grant I will hire a research assistant who will be trained and certified to conduct LFDRS assessments in Spanish to assist me in data collection. In addition, this grant will allow participants to be compensated and I will purchase the required materials such as iPads to conduct the study.

I extend my deepest sympathies for the loss of your loved one, and my gratitude for the profound legacy she has left behind. I look forward to updating you about my process. Thank you again.


Emily Flores
Doctoral Candidate
Department of Psychology at Wayne State University