Coordinator of the Month: Gabriella Mendez | September 2020
Name: Gabriella Mendez
Hometown: Tishomingo, Oklahoma & San Francisco, CA
College Attended / Graduating Class / Major: Masters in Public Health specializing in rural and underserved communities at Oklahoma State University
HealthCorps School Placement / City / State: Kingston Public Schools, Kingston OK
Fun Fact About Me:
Question #1: Why did you choose to work with HealthCorps?
I actually did a research paper during my masters degree and discovered HealthCorps and thought this would be the coolest job ever. I applied and got the position at a school close to my home town and thought this would be my opportunity to give back and make an impact in a community I hold so close to my heart.
Question #2: What role do you play in your site(s) beyond “HealthCorps Coordinator”?
Kingston schools are more than just a school. It’s a community and a family. They have brought me in with open arms as part of the family. I’m more than just a coordinator, I am a friend, a partner, a listening ear, an ally, an outlet, a safe place, a snack supplier, and “the health lady.”
Question #3: What have you learned during your placement so far? What has surprised you most?
There are still good people left in this world.
If you believe in others they will believe in you.
& a little love can go a long way.
I think as a society we get so wrapped up in our own worlds that it is nice to get a little comfortable with the uncomfortable and see other perspectives and learn how to create programs that can encompass everyone in any part of their life.
Question #4: What advice would you give to teachers / parents / communities, etc. who are looking to create more programming focused on healthy living for their students / residents?
I think I would start by telling teachers, parents, and community members the first step is believing in yourself. The resources are out there, and all is takes is one person to start a wave and create change. I would tell them that the students are watching and even though it might not always seem like it, they are taking in everything. We preach about being good role models to our youth but we have to believe in what we are saying too.
Question #5: What advice do you have for future Coordinators or anyone looking to join health-related fields?
ASK FOR HELP& TRUST THE PROCESS! There is no reason to do this alone, it takes a village. No one has all the answers, and no one has it all figured out. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, assistance, guidance, encouragement.
Question #6: What do you plan to pursue after your placement, and how is your time with HealthCorps helping you achieve that goal?
After HealthCorps I hope to further my education as a Physician Assistant. HealthCorps has helped further reassure me that helping people and giving others the skills to help improve their life is something I am passionate about. I have had the ability to make connections and memories that will last me a lifetime.