Berkeley Today Stories
Berkeley College Alumna Determined to Raise Awareness for Lupus
Graduating from Berkeley College in 2005 with a B.B.A. in Accounting, Elizabeth SantaCruz credits taking classes in Woodland Park, NJ, for expanding her business acumen and communication skills. As a staff accountant at Imagine Software, Inc., she not only applies those skills to her work, but also to raising awareness of Lupus – a chronic, autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue.
In February 2016, Ms. SantaCruz’s 9-year-old daughter, Miah, was diagnosed with Lupus after two years of visiting several doctors who were unable to determine what was wrong. “As a parent, it is important for me to spread Lupus awareness because I didn’t know anything about Lupus until her diagnosis,” said Ms. SantaCruz, a resident of Kearny, NJ, originally from Peru.
Ms. SantaCruz began working with the Multi-Cultural Outreach Task Force shortly after her daughter’s diagnosis. The program was created by the Lupus Research Alliance to help raise awareness among multi-cultural groups. In October 2016, Ms. SantaCruz also became the co-host of #LupusChat, an online discussion series that take places on Twitter and aims to connect those living with Lupus to educational resources.
Her efforts led to receiving a proclamation from Mayor Alberto Santos of Kearny, NJ, designating May as Lupus Awareness Month. Ms. SantaCruz and her daughter’s journey has also received attention from local newspapers and media outlets, including a television segment on PIX11 News.
“I hope one day there will be a cure for Lupus, but now my duty is to spread Lupus awareness,” Ms. SantaCruz said. “I have met with several Lupus advocates, and their stories are inspiring. It gives me hope for my daughter, and made me realize that I could make a difference.”
Elizabeth and her daughter with Mayor Alberto Santos of Kearny, NJ.