When I first came to Long Beach State, it was difficult for me to become involved in school functions and affiliate myself with clubs. College was a huge transition because I am a first-generation student. I was absolutely clueless about campus services and programs and I had no guidance from any relatives or friends. I was all alone. I do not blame my parents. They have less than a junior high school education and could not mentor me. I do not blame my friends who did not attend college. I blame no one, rather I give thanks. I am extremely grateful to the founders of Partners for Success because, through the relationship with my mentor, they have provided me with invaluable advice and support.
I was initially introduced to Partners for Success by a brilliant lady who has changed my life unlike anyone else, Dr. Britt Rios-Ellis, a professor in the Health Science Department and director of the Latino Healthcare Community Project. Dr. Rios-Ellis has worked with health, immigration and policy issues in the Latino community. Personally, I have always been interested in understanding the different relationships between Latino communities to health disparities. Comprehending the culture, language, traditions, values and norms and linking those factors to health outcomes has always been my niche. Therefore, becoming Dr. Rios-Ellis’s mentee and student research intern was the perfect match! She has molded me into a person with different perspectives and outlooks on life, school, family, friends and professional career. Indeed, my mentor even encouraged me to step out of my box and study abroad.
In January 2006, I went to Sri Lanka on a short-term study abroad program through the Health Science Department. Studying abroad has been one of the most exciting and thrilling adventures I have experienced. Along with 16 undergraduate students, I was very fortunate to research the country’s public health system. In 2004, Sri Lanka was hit by the tsunami that created severe damage and disparities among the people in the country. Part of the trip was to study the aftermath of the tsunami and various health issues. A close examination of diseases, emergency response teams, medical institutions and other important variants were analyzed. I had the opportunity to visit such health organizations as the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, the World Health Organization, the Ministry of Health Care and Nutrition and field hospitals. I also was fortunate to visit tsunami reconstruction projects and refugee camps for displaced citizens. I owe this trip and the unforgettable memories partly to my mentor's continual advice and support.
Dr. Rios-Ellis is not only my mentor, professor and preceptor, but she also is my friend. She is compassionate, understanding and trustworthy. It’s fascinating to see how a person can stimulate my mind and have such a tremendous impact on my life.
To date, I have become a part of many successful events hosted by the center, including the Latinas HIV Summit, the inauguration of the Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation and Leadership Training and the Long Beach Research Symposium. I also am a recent scholar of the Latino Healthcare Professional Project. Through this project, I developed communication skills, work ethics and networking opportunities. As a December 2006 graduate majoring in health science and health care administration, I have acquired enough knowledge and extensive training in the public health field to now serve others.
In the future, I plan to pursue a master's degree in health care administration or public health. My dream is to become a successful health educator and work toward diminishing health disparities in the Latino community. While health is an issue for all, I believe there is a special need within the Latino population.
I would like to thank those committed to making Partners for Success an extraordinary program, especially mentors like Dr. Rios-Ellis who commit their time and effort in helping others and yielding positive attitudes!