During senior seminar, I learned about incorporating personal fulfillment, success, and service into an all-encompassing life project. As an intern blogger for the CCE, I have been able to learn how service applies. For example, recently I attended the Latino Health Forum's celebration of its 25th anniversary. The focus of the conference centered around the topic of "the health and unity of our community." As a Communications major, public health and health access are not fields I am familiar with but being exposed to such information proved rewarding.
Karen Smith, MD, MPH, Director and State Public Health Officer, California Department of Public Health discussed how, "social inequities dictate health for the next generation." For Dr. Smith, partnering with the community and "putting the community in charge" is vital because "they already know what they need," and, "If the community is engaged, then California is able to develop and implement strategies for reducing disparities," Dr. Smith says.
One of the goals for the Latino Health Forum is "to raise awareness of the importance of civic engagement in Sonoma County." I attended the workshop "Civic Engagement for a Healthy Community" facilitated by Merith Weisman, Adriana Arrizon, and Isabel Lopez. Merith Weisman, Coordinator of the Center For Community Engagement, explained that part of SSU's mission statement highlights the importance of civic engagement and health. SSU looks to prepare students who "will be active citizens and leaders in society" and "are concerned with contributing to the health and well-being of the world at large." The Latino Health Forums' goal on civic engagement line up well with those of the SSU making this a perfect site for the event to take place.
Adriana Arrizon from First 5 Sonoma described that although she had achieved success in her career, she felt something missing from her life. Adriana realized she needed to reconnect with the community because "social engagement is important to our survival." Isabel Lopez, the founder and executive director of Raizes Collective, pointed out that "what you are passionate about heals you." Raizes collective creates a place of self-healing through art because "art connects people, art heals."
Following your passions is a theme I heard many times during the conference. Jeffrey Reynozo, PhD, Executive Director, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, said "to be true to yourself and follow what you love." When we follow our truth, we reach authenticity, making us more effective personally and professionally. I agree with Isabel and Jeffrey that our passions heal us. I have experienced health issues in the past and establishing a connection to nature helped me get better. I have always loved being outdoors and now hike several times a week. I workout and get connected to nature as well as take photographs, which is another passion of mine. Following our passions is important for self fulfillment and healing because it allows one to help the community to do the same.