Moving to Douglas, Arizona in 2006 was Oscar A. De La Torre Gonzalez’s first exposure to the uniqueness of border life and border communities. He graduated in 2008 from Douglas High School and soon after that began his bachelor’s degree in Physiology at the University of Arizona.
“I initially started my university career with hopes to one day become a medical doctor, later taking several courses at the U of A, I was introduced to Public Health. After completing several courses and learning about the importance of public health I saw all of the positive impact that one can have on an entire community’s health. This led me to change my major to Public Health.”
During his undergraduate career Oscar interned as a Health Advocate for the International Rescue Committee which sparked his interest in pursuing a Master’s Degree, focusing on Global Health. As a graduate student he worked as a graduate assistant and held an internship at the Arizona Office of Border Health evaluating the Arizona-Sonora Meet and Greet Program. In 2015, as a second year graduate student Oscar participated in the Border Health Service Learning Institute, hosted by SEAHEC.
“It was an excellent way to immerse myself in real Public Health situations such as community education, outreach, and community assessment. This allowed me to learn what I can improve on professionally as well as what I was comfortable doing.”
A year later, in the summer of 2016, Oscar graduated the University of Arizona with a Master’s in Public Health-Family and Child Health-Global Health. Now he works at El Rio Community Health Center as the Associate Program Manager in the Dental Department which has opened many new doors into Dental Public Health, an area of public health that many people are not aware of.
“In this position I am part of an excellent team which strives to provide and obtain dental treatment for our patients, as well as education for populations that are most at risk of poor oral health. The prevention and treatment of oral diseases is essential to ones’ health in order to have a good quality of life.”
Oscar and his colleagues are currently focused on improving delivery of pediatric oral health education, and dental care to children and families through integration of El Rio’s Pediatric Dental Department, Medical Pediatric Department and WIC program at their Congress Street location. Oscar said the consolidation of services at this central location is intended to increase access to dental care and increase awareness of the importance of oral health to overall health.
“These measures will help prevent larger issues for the children we see today,” he said.