Bernadette Hernandez

Bernadette Hernandez

Bernadette Hernandez

I am currently living my dream of providing health services to my hometown of Nogales, AZ.  Nogales is a hybrid society split by the Mexican-American border. On the Mexican side you have a mid-size metropolitan city with the hustle and bustle of international commerce; rich in culture from those who have become stranded trying to make their way into the United States of America. On the American side, it is a close knit community where we all know each other and are anxious to help each other succeed.

In my current position as the School-Linked health Care Coordinator I get to assist my community by providing children K-12 with vital health information to prevent that which we see most in our community: diabetes, asthma, and obesity. I have a solid understanding of school, health services needs and assets in our rural, U.S. Mexico border improving adolescent wellness services through collaboration, education and advocacy.

“Because I live in a border town I had the chance to experience two cultures at the same time.  I learned that my community was in need of education and promotion of healthy lifestyles, which are one of the main focuses in public health.”

Bernadette returned to her home town in Spring, 2014 to spend a semester working with SEAHEC while pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Public Health.  A senior at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Bernadette had already gained substantial community service experience as a Bachelor of Science candidate in Health Sciences: Public Health, when she began her internship at SEAHEC.

“Through my volunteer experiences, I have worked with clients who have diverse needs,” she said.  “It has taught me the importance of maintaining an open mind when it comes to others’ wants and needs.”

In January, Bernadette helped organize a teen/parent retreat hosted by SEAHEC staff and the Santa Cruz County Adolescent Wellness Network. The retreat focused on building leadership and communication skills for youth and their parents, and was based on the “Can We Talk?” adolescent health curriculum authored by the National Education Association.

“I was happy to be part of the planning committee for the “Can We Talk?” retreat,” Bernadette said after the event.  “It was a unique experience watching parents and teens communicating and forming stronger bonds.  Watching them sharing and participating in the activities made me realize how much adults and adolescents have in common.  I am positive that this retreat will help teens and parents continue forming a strong relationship and help them have better communication skills.”

Bernadette’s home community of Ambos Nogales provided much of her inspiration for becoming a health professional.

“Because I live in a border town I had the chance to experience two cultures at the same time.  I learned that my community was in need of education and promotion of healthy lifestyles, which are one of the main focuses in public health.”

“We have an incredibly dedicated, fun and diverse staff working on a mission that addresses the “upstream” issues that create sound economies and solid communities, and we are glad to have Bernadette on our team,”  said SEAHEC Executive Director Gail Emrick.  “Providing internship opportunities for health professions students is part of our pipeline for increasing access to care through ensuring a supply of trained professionals who understand the needs of the communities they serve.  Through youth education, health workforce development and strong partnerships,   I know the work SEAHEC does in in southern Arizona, is making a difference by “growing our own health leaders,” she said.

Bernadette’s volunteer experience in northern Arizona included helping organize the 100 Best Youth Celebration with Coconino Coalition for Children and Youth, an event that has earned Flagstaff recognition for being one of the top places to raise youth in the nation.  Other projects included helping to build an award winning website for AIDS care in the Grand Canyon area, and health and wellness projects for local youth and preschoolers in Flagstaff.  Bernadette also gained program planning experience helping write grants for SEAHEC’s sister AHEC, Northern Arizona Area Health Education Center.

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