Making a local connection at The Health Trust
Valeriote Goldman Symposium on Public Health and Social Justice. Thanks to a generous gift from alumna Sue Valeriote ’77 and her husband, Ken Goldman, Alejandra was one of five public health students to receive financial support for an internship focusing on the complex impact of social and economic factors on women’s health. Her work with The Health Trust consisted of ensuring that the organization’s services met client needs through a survey that she personally administered at various service delivery points, giving her first-hand exposure to the needs of the local community. “I always wanted to become a physician’s assistant and go abroad to serve people. Thanks to this internship, I realized that our own backyard has so many unmet needs that I don’t need to travel to help people; I can be of service here.”
For Alejandra, going into the medical field is a decision that weaves her past, her family and her own predisposition to help others together. Growing up, she saw her dad checking in and out of hospitals due to chronic illness. “Even at that age, I realized that the medical field is not very diverse, and that there are always cultural and language barriers. I became determined to help others overcome these barriers. And since my mom has always been my rock, I’ve learned to value women and their strength, so I wanted to help women feel their own strength, too,” says Budar, who is the president of her multicultural sorority on campus.
Her fluent Spanish was indeed useful when she had to interview clients at a food bank. “People trusted me more and opened up to me when we spoke in Spanish. I remember meeting a woman who said that finding good food for her family was hard because fruits and vegetables are so expensive. I never thought of that. I just take those things for granted. But this really painted a picture of the needs in this community.”
She credits her family for instilling in her a sense of service, but she also points to an immersion trip to Ecuador in 2014, through the Ignatian Center, as an additional source of inspiration. “My immersion trip and my internship have really motivated me to be more involved on campus and in the greater community. And since faith is so important to me, I see my education not only as a blessing to me, but to all those I’m able to assist, and all those who are not as fortunate to have the educational opportunities I’ve had.”
Additional support was also provided thanks to a Community Grant from The Health Trust.