Christina Silva, Class of 2008
SCU graduate Christina Silva (2008) minored in religious studies. Janet Giddings met with her to find out how the minor might help in her work. Since 2016, Christina has been Services Coordinator for The Villages Medical Auxiliary (VMA). The Villages is a 55+ Golf and Country Club Community in south San Jose that reflects the diversity of Silicon Valley.
The VMA’s Services Coordinator is the person Villagers look to for referral services in order to live independently in their own home, to find caregivers, or to find an alternative living arrangement. The Coordinator manages the VMA’s health-based programs that are offered to members at no charge. Christina manages monthly support groups as well as blood pressure and flu shot clinics. Health care, home management, and monitoring services are all inquiries where Christina may be asked to assist. Christina maintains complete privacy and respect as she coordinates, researches, supports, and assists members of this large community. Christina said that her own Catholic faith tradition is important to her. After St. Martin’s Grammar School and St. Francis High School, Santa Clara University and the minor in religious studies helped her to understand religious diversity, “including atheists” she added. She said having this background has been very helpful.
One example she gave as to how religious literacy and respect has helped in her work is when she received a call from a Jewish Villager’s friend who wanted help finding Jewish-focused caregiving for this Villager. Christina did the research and connected the Villager to the right care. She has also been asked for information on food options for Sikh residents and has connected with the Sikh temple nearby. She has worked with hospice agencies. While most are “open” in their care, Christina found a local agency with a Christian focus. Christina’s years of volunteering in youth ministry, her major and graduate degree in psychology, her minors in religious studies and sociology, and her own faith tradition all help support her efforts in her work. It is the minor in religious studies in particular that lends well to working with people of different faith traditions with differing needs. She added, “I help people with everyday life and it is important to remember that people may be different than you.” Religious literacy is an asset in this important work.