BEFORE( with one month of living a healthier life style)
AFTER( most recent picture)
Growing up as an overweight teenager was one of the most impactful circumstances of my life. By the age of 17, I weighed 200 pounds. I used food to cope with all the difficult events in my life including my parents’ divorce. It seemed as though eating was the only thing I had control over. I consumed junk food for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the week. In my hometown of Baldwin Park, California, I was surrounded by ten fast food chains, three liquor stores and about nine family owned “mom and pop” restaurants with little to no healthy offerings. Although I lived directly across the street from high school, rather than walk to school, I drove. It was later in my educational and professional career that I grew to understand how my community environment impacted my unhealthy decisions and the health of my community in general.
In the spring of my senior year in high school, I interned at Kaiser Permanente and I learned about the environment and how my health was being affected. I witnessed how essential public health and the environment go hand in hand. That moment, I decided to turn my life around. I was determined to lose weight, eat healthier and get involved more in my community to change the environment and decrease obesity. I applied for a youth internship with the California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA). CCPHA is a non-profit organization dedicated to implementing policies to promote health, as well decrease childhood obesity and diabetes. My internship allowed me to learn how to develop a youth curriculum on how to read menu labels, portions sizing, how to conduct community audits. I became a leading youth advocate by testifying at the state capital and in many classrooms I spoke to youth on how the unhealthy offerings in our community and limited parks affected the community’s health. By the end of my internship, I gained public speaking skills, confidence and a renewed outlook on health. I also lost 85 pounds. My experience prompted me to get my bachelor of arts in public administration. While attending the California State University at San Bernardino, I was hired to work with CCPHA.
As an adult, I have realized how important public health is to my family, friends and community. I love presenting my personal story and what the city of Baldwin Park is doing to improve physical activity and the environment. I take pride in the fact that public health is my passion. I ask myself every day, “What if people lived healthier lives, practiced preventive medicine, and took precautions against illness and disease? What can I do to help them, what tools would I need?”
My mother would always tell me in Spanish, “Never give up on your goals.” To be healthy is my goal, to live a happy, healthy life is my goal.