Alexis Vasquez has known she wanted to pursue a health career since 5th grade. Now she works as a Family Support Specialist for Child and Family Resources in Tucson, where she provides health education and support to families in the Tucson area. Alexis was a member of SEAHEC’s Future Health Leaders Club (2010-2011) when she attended Rio Rico High School. Later, from July 2014 to May 2015, she served as a health education intern at SEAHEC. In 2015, Alexis graduated with a B.S. in Public Health and a minor in Spanish from the University of Arizona.
Originally intending to pursue a career in Pharmacy, Alexis discovered public health, and was inspired by her desire to help people.
“I wanted to do something that would help people more and prevent them from needing so many medications,” she said. “I changed my major with the idea of trying it out for a semester to see if it was the right fit and I discovered an area of the health field that truly sparked inspiration and passion within me. The idea of reaching out to the community and helping families gain the tools they needed to build a stronger foundation for themselves which in turn would help their children pass on those same tools generation after generation drew me in and I have been striving to spread information and tools ever since to help the community become stronger, healthier, and happier by realizing their potential.”
Exposure to practical experience through SEAHEC is one of the things that helped Alexis identify career goals.
“I knew I wanted to help people and SEAHEC helped me explore the many ways I could do that,” she said, adding that her experience working with SEAHEC provided “opportunities to practice what I was learning and truly experience what that looked like.”
As a SEAHEC intern, Alexis served as a health educator. She flew to Baja California, Mexico with the Flying Samaritans where she provided educational materials at a women’s clinic in Rosario, Baja California, México.
SEAHEC recruits health professions students and supports them to travel with the Flying Samaritans of Arizona, to El Rosario, Baja California, Mexico. The SEAHEC students serve as volunteer health educators and language interpreters on cross-border health projects, such as the Flying Samaritan’s medical and dental clinic in El Rosario.
“Getting to see the impact the clinic made on all of the women and young girls that we helped solidified my decision to work with families to help mothers, fathers, and their children because I could see and hear the inter-generational impact occurring.”
Although Alexis is based in Tucson, her service area covers a 50 mile radius, which takes her to rural communities as far south as Sahuarita and Amado, and as far north as Marana/Catalina, which provides her with experience working with families from diverse backgrounds. She plans to continue her work with families as part of Child and Family Resources Healthy Families program, providing support on many topics including “prenatal care, family planning, infant and child development, reducing and preventing domestic violence, mental health, and connecting families to the community and other resources.”
Building relationships with the families she works with is one of the rewards of working in public health. Those relationships are “dear to my heart,” she says.
“Between all the wonderful parents and children I get to work with and the variety of topics and events I get to work with, I feel that I can truly impact lives and help connect families within the community and see stronger, healthier, and happier people.”
In the future, Alexis hopes to provide guidance and support to Family Support Specialists who come after her.
“Eventually, I do see myself aiming for a supervisor position to guide others and new Family Support Specialists in achieving their hopes and making their impact on the community, but for now I am enjoying my time with the families I get to work with and look forward to continuing to learn, grow, and make a difference through our time together.”