Coordinator of the Month: Madelyn Pérez
Name: Madelyn Pérez
Hometown: Upland, CA
College Attended / Major:
HealthCorps School Placement: Rancho Mirage HS
Fun Fact: I recently taught myself how to knit!
Layla Ronan: How did you become involved with HealthCorps?
Madelyn Pérez: In college, I spent most of my free time volunteering in my community and working with organizations to expand opportunities for youth in education. After college, I was hoping to find an opportunity that combined theses interests as well as my interest in health. It was difficult to find an opportunity like this, since I didn’t quite know what it could look like. With the help of a career counselor, I came across HealthCorps. I’m not quite sure I completely knew what I was getting myself into, but it has been the perfect fit so far.
LR: What has been the highlight of your placement so far?
MP: My school is in the unique situation of only being able to experience one coordinator. From the beginning of my service, sustainability has been a focus of mine; and I seek opportunities in which HealthCorps programs could fit into existing spaces. As I work to ensure sustainable programming, it has been awesome to see some students develop as leaders. For example, I lead a cooking club with a few of my students at a local middle school. We visit the middle school monthly and prepare simple and nutrition dishes. I train my students to lead their own small groups; and since last year, they have grown to be more confidant as facilitators. They have taken more creative ownership of the club, and I don’t doubt they could continue this program in the future.
LR: Outside of the classroom, what are some of the activities that you are involved with?
MP: One of my favorite activities outside of the classroom is the small girls’ group I lead called the Female Empowerment Club. My goal is to create a safe space in which the girls can grow in confidence and self-esteem. Together we explore different ways to care for ourselves through healthy eating, exercise, and stress relief. I am passionate about working with and empowering young girls; and I was recently part of a team that brought a local community program to my school to mentor at-risk girls.
In addition to this, I also enjoy collaborating with the nutrition services department. In an effort to promote hydration in our desert environment, we have begun Water Wednesdays and provide free infused water to our students.
LR: What do you plan to pursue after your service to HealthCorps is complete?
MP: I plan on beginning medical school in the fall of 2016. I am not sure which field I will pursue, but I know I want to work with underserved communities. My goal is to be a physician-leader and impact the healthcare landscape of my surrounding community. I may be involved with research, policy, or I may find myself back in the classroom someday.
LR: What is one thing you have learned from your placement that you will be able to carry with you as you move forward in life?
MP: Something I have taken to heart is learning that everyone has a story. In order to work with or teach anybody, I have learned to acknowledge that everyone has a specific background and context. Though I do not know everyone’s story, recognizing this has helped me avoid labeling others. As it pertains to students, this realization has helped me understand that their history and background and input as a result of it is valid. I hope to take this with me in my practice as a physician and remember that my patients are more than just what I see but a result of their social, cultural, and economic background.
We want to thank Madelyn Pérez for her exceptional work and congratulate her for being this month’s coordinator of the month.