Coordinator of the Month: Carlos Alonso Nugent
Name: Carlos Alonso Nugent
Hometown: Born in Austin, Texas / Raised in Tucson, Arizona.
College Attended: Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.
Major: English Literature and Music
HealthCorps School Placement: The George Washington Educational Campus in New York City
Fun Fact: I have three parents and each of them is from a different country: Cuba, Malawi and the United States.
Jeffrey Hartinger: How did you become involved with HealthCorps?
Carlos Alonso Nugent: The United States is the most economically unequal industrialized nation. In many respects, it is also one of the least healthy. As someone who has always been able to eat healthy food and move in enjoyable ways, I have long been troubled by the links between nutrition, fitness and socioeconomic status.
After deciding that I wanted to help other people develop the healthy habits that I had often taken for granted, I learned about HealthCorps from a college friend who had just joined the program.
Several weeks later, I completed my Coordinator application, and in September I took up my post on the George Washington Educational Campus.
JH: What has been the highlight of your placement so far?
CAN: On December 7th, HealthCorps on the George Washington Educational Campus hosted the “Health Around the World Festival.”
During the event, more than 700 students explored 17 interactive booths run by restaurateurs, fitness instructors, health professionals and other students. At the different booths, students tasted curry from Thailand, practiced Pilates from Germany, used meditation techniques from India, and sampled many other healthy traditions.
While I enjoyed seeing all of the students learn how different cultures stay healthy in different ways, I was particularly proud of the student volunteers who stood as examples of health for the entire school.
JH: Outside of the classroom, what are some of the activities that you are involved with?
CAN: Like other Coordinators across the country, I frequently bring the HealthCorps message for change out of the classroom and into the kitchen, the school garden and the broader community. Although I enjoy all of these extracurricular activities, I am particularly fond of the Taste the World After-School Cooking Club and Teen Battle Chef.
In these clubs, students gain culinary skills as they explore cooking and eating traditions from around the world. Through weekly cooking workshops, they learn to use combinations of flavors and ingredients that have kept different cultures happy and healthy for centuries.
By learning the principles and techniques of healthy cooking, the students become agents of change in their communities: while one student frequently shows me photos of meals she makes at home, another prepares my Moroccan Couscous recipe twice a month at her family’s “Sunday Dinners.”
JH: What do you plan to pursue after your service to HealthCorps is complete?
CAN: After completing my service with HealthCorps, I will pursue a PhD in English Literature. While my work in the classroom has confirmed my desire to use my Ph.D. to teach at the university level, my other duties as a Coordinator have inspired me to continue studying issues of culture and inequality, among other things.
JH: What is one thing you have learned that you will be able to carry with you as you move forward in life?
CAN: While I have learned a lot about others and myself in my time as a Coordinator, I have been particularly grateful for the opportunity to interact with different types of people. Whether I am working with a student, a staff member or a parent, I always have to listen to what they are saying and engage with their unique point of view. Through all of these interactions, I have become a keener listener, a better communicator and a more sensitive person.
We want to thank Carlos Alonso Nugent for his exceptional work and congratulate him for being this month’s coordinator of the month.