Born and raised in Mexico City, I completed my undergraduate degree in international business from the Universidad del Valle de México. I
am just wrapping up my master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. I specialize in implementing healthcare initiatives for diverse and underresourced populations. I currently hold positions on the board of directors for the Arizona Community Health Workers Association.
In my current role I lead a team of community health workers (CHWs) across multiple states, including Arizona, Texas and Tennessee. I approach patient care with a holistic mindset, addressing the mind, body, and spirit while prioritizing social determinants of health (SDOH) and respecting cultural differences.
CAREER TURNING POINT: Shortly after moving to the U.S., I observed the health disparities and how SDOH heavily affected minoritized communities, including people of color — my people. I started working as a prevention specialist for a local school district. is opportunity showed me that the American dream was not available to all. I saw how parents at the school district did not know how to access resources that were available to them, or how they couldn’t help their kids with schoolwork due to the lack of language, education or time. I saw how the patterns of poverty repeated and the intergenerational trauma continued to be passed on and on. I saw how stigma, fear and lack of a support system prevented many from accessing mental health resources and services that were desperately needed. I knew that it was an important problem, and I wanted to be part of the solution. Shortly after, I had the opportunity to work closely with grassroots organization Promotoras and fell in love with the community health worker model.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE OF THE JOB: The biggest day-to-day challenge
of our job as community health workers is that often we depend on the resources, programs and services available in the community that our members can be eligible for, but sometimes our members are facing adversity and insufficient resources, which can cause community health workers to feel stressed and powerless in supporting members.
Vicarious trauma, secondhand stress and/or empathetic stress are often experienced by our team members because of the exposure to our members’ hardships. This can cause overwhelming feelings that can result in compassion fatigue. That is why self-care and healthy boundaries are key for the work that we do.
LONG-LASTING COVID-19 EFFECT: Beyond the hybrid work from home and office days, a long-lasting effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is the adoption and adaption to telehealth and telemedicine — a very positive outcome!
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, our efforts to incorporate telehealth in our practice as community health workers were not as well received by community members, and it was uncommon to see providers utilizing the virtual care setting to complete clinical visits. Now the utilization of this care modality is more normalized for folks in the community.
WHAT I WOULD CHANGE ABOUT U.S. HEALTHCARE: I would say to change the culture of how we approach disease prevention as a nation. Prevention must become everyone’s priority, from top down and bottom up; from systems across all sectors, policies and collective beliefs; to families, communities and individuals, so that the intrinsic awareness, individual choices and behaviors are healthier and normalized.
BOOK EVERYONE IN HEALTHCARE SHOULD READ: “ The Body Keeps a Score” by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. Everyone experiences trauma in their lives. From big “T” to little “t,” we all process trauma in a different way, and our mind and brain perceive it differently from one person to another. The author’s approach to introducing mindfulness and self-awareness by practicing strategies that foster nourishment to the mind and body is instrumental to healing and hope.
GUILTY PLEASURE: Every once in a while, I enjoy breakfast for dinner with French toast, berries, whipped cream and bacon.