Laura Vang '15
Student Director for Conversations That Matter
Hometown: Memphis, TNRead the full interview
For his Olga Gruss Lewin Fellowship project, Alejandro will partner with the First 5 Sacramento Commission in Sacramento, California. This organization was founded with the vision and mission that all children aged zero to five in Sacramento County would have access to preventative medical care and health education that would enable them to become strong, vibrant and educated members of the community. Sacramento County itself provides a myriad of difficulties for accomplishing this goal. The county itself is extremely young, increasing the catchment population for the commission. Within that young population there is great ethnic and cultural diversity, headlined by Mexican immigrants. Furthermore, First 5 offers all of its programs to children regardless of immigration, socio-economic, or geographical status. In a county where the landscape shifts from a city of half of a million people to migrant farmer work camps very suddenly, this can pose an enormous challenge. Nevertheless, First 5 Sacramento offers a plethora of services to the children of the county, and is continuously striving to bring new programs online. First 5 has programs to improve nutrition, increase participation in quality early care and education, a community building initiative, initiatives to increase fluoridation in water, programs to promote effective parenting, and programs to increase the number of children enrolled with health insurance.
During his Fellowship, Alejandro will focus on three projects: the setup of new, free dental clinics throughout the county, increasing enrollment and retention of children aged zero to five into free or sponsored health insurance programs, and the construction of community gardens in primary schools throughout the county. All three projects entail daily outreach and dialogue with the parents of the underserved children of Sacramento County, ensuring that they not only have access to the programs available to them, but also that they actually utilize these programs and are comfortable doing so.
The Olga Gruss Lewin Fellowship allows Alejandro to participate in activities that combine his academic interests in social and biological sciences, with the goal of addressing disparities in health and lack of quality primary care. After completing the project, Alejandro would like to enroll in a joint medical and public health (MD/MPH) program. Alejandro hopes to eventually practice medicine in rural California, where his academic interests at Dartmouth, cultural wherewithal obtained from growing up in Mexico, and professional goal of being a physician can be best utilized to help underserved populations.
Last Updated: 8/7/11