Coordinator of the Month: Precious Fortes
Name: Precious Fortes
Hometown: Stockton, CA
College Attended / Major: Johns Hopkins University/ Medical Anthropology, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Masters in Health Science
HealthCorps School Placement: Health Careers Academy
Fun Fact: Prior to moving back to Stockton, I worked in Puerto Rico as a research coordinator on Cancer Disparities.
Jeffrey Hartinger: How did you become involved with HealthCorps?
Precious Fortes: I worked as the manager of the Teen Center in Stockton before learning that HealthCorps was coming to Stockton. A friend of mine passed along the information to me and I was really excited to be able to use my educational background and passion for helping youth in Stockton. The principal of the high school where HealthCorps would be was Traci Miller, who was a high school counselor at Edison when I was in high school. It felt like it was meant to be. I joined the September training group and the rest has been an adventure.
JH: What has been the highlight of your placement so far?
PF: The highlight has been being able to work with such wonderful people at HealthCorps and Health Careers Academy. I feel blessed to be able to serve my community in such a great way through HealthCorps. I have connected with several youth who remind me a lot of myself growing up in Stockton.
One major highlight is working with my Zumba girls and seeing them blossom into leaders. They take ownership of their health and have begun to form deeper connections with each other. The Zumba girls want to teach the community how to be healthy and share their passion with their family members. One of my Zumba students has lost over 30 pounds in the summer and she continues to motivate others in getting healthy.
JH: Outside of the classroom, what are some of the activities that you are involved with?
PF: Outside of the classroom I teach Zumba to the community and also serve as a health educator on chronic diseases. I serve on different community health groups including the diabetes coalition. Working for HealthCorps has helped me share my work with my students and also to bridge the different organizations with Health Careers Academy.
I also work as an advocate for Project YES |Youth Empowering Stockton|, a research collaborative to help build a healthier community. This summer I worked over 24 youth on data collection of social determinants of health. A group of the students were from Health Careers Academy. We are currently working on youth action projects to address some of the health problems we identified this summer.
JH: What do you plan to pursue after your service to HealthCorps is complete?
PF: I plan on attending medical school and then coming back to Stockton to serve as a physician. My work through HealthCorps has taught me a lot about obesity prevention and how to empower youth to be healthy. I want to continue to teach the younger generation on how to live healthy and equip them with the knowledge and tools to do so.
JH: 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?
PF: Value your health and take care of your body so that you can continue to do great things. You are only given one body to live in for the rest of your life, so you have to take care of it.
Working with students who are pursuing a health career has helped me relate to them on a more personal level. I am learning with my students the importance of taking care of oneself in order to take care of other people’s health. As a future doctor, I want to make sure I stay healthy because my patients depend on it.
We want to thank Precious Fortes for her exceptional work and congratulate her for being this month’s coordinator of the month.