By Alex Buranday
The long-term impact of SEAHEC’s youth investment is demonstrated when alumni of SEAHEC’s Future Health Leaders Program return to participate in training events as college level health professions students. Raymond Larez, Douglas High School FHL “Med” Club class of 2008, has returned to SEAHEC twice to take advantage of service learning opportunities here in Nogales. In 2014, he participated in the FRONTERA program, along with former classmate Kimberly Escarcega. Now half way through his Master’s in Public Health degree at the University of Arizona Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, (MEZCOPH) Larez says he immediately volunteered to participate in our newest offering, Binational Interprofessional Service Learning Experience (BISLE,) which SEAHEC coordinates in collaboration with MEZCOPH.
Larez joined SEAHEC’s FHL program during his sophomore year at Douglas High School, where he remembers participating in club activities that exposed him to college campus tours, college application preparation, Relay for Life, the CNA program, and other health career preparation activities. After high school graduation in 2008, Larez enrolled at the University of Arizona where he majored in Nutritional Science, and went on to pursue his Master’s in Public Health.
“Take advantage of the opportunities, and even though it may be intimidating, just push through and be open-minded.”
When asked about how participating in Future Health Leaders helped him decide on a career path, he says, “If it wasn’t for Med-Club, pursuing a Masters degree in Public Health wouldn’t have been a possibility.” Larez says that being part of the club helped to alleviate his anxiety about applying to college, and the opportunities the club offered boosted his confidence in pursuing a career in health. His advice for current club members and high school students in general: “Take advantage of the opportunities, and even though it may be intimidating, just push through and be open-minded.” Larez plans to work in public health administration and is contemplating enrolling in medical school. He said he is definitely interested in serving rural, underserved populations. Larez is one example that illustrates how providing definite pathways for youth advancement renders invaluable returns. Along with border health advocacy, SEAHEC’s continuing mission to “Grow our Own” health care providers is truly a worthwhile investment.