American Indian and Alaska Native tribes have a history of trauma, and to this day are still marginalized in a multitude of ways in the United States. The California Rural Indian Health Board is a program aimed at enhancing the public health status of these demographic groups, and our guest today has been working passionately for this cause for the past 3 years. Alejandra Cabrera coordinates projects which deal with monitoring health status in tribal communities and developing culturally appropriate health services. The main project she has been involved with is helping these communities respond to the opioid epidemic. Alejandra stresses the importance of building trust, and using a “for the community, by the community” approach. In this episode you’ll also hear how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the work that Alejandra does, and what the next phases of her inspiring project are going to look like.
Alejandra Cabrera is the daughter of Central American immigrants. She was born in Oakland, California, and raised in San Lorenzo, a nearby suburb. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Master of Public Health from San Diego State University. Ms. Cabrera currently works as a Project Coordinator at the California Tribal Epidemiology Center, housed within the California Rural Indian Health Board, Inc. (CRIHB). Before joining CRIHB in 2018, Ms. Cabrera worked for the Family Health Centers of San Diego, where she used client-centered approaches to connect high-risk individuals to HIV and hepatitis treatment and prevention services. She also worked as an Epidemiologist for the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, where she assisted with hepatitis A outbreak investigations and surveillance.
Key Takeaways From This Episode
The mission of the California Tribal Epidemiology Center.
An introduction to today’s guest, Alejandra Cabrera.
Alejandra’s original career aspiration, and the program which changed her mind.
Goals of the projects that Alejandra coordinates.
A brief rundown of the past 3 years of Alejandra’s work at the California Rural Indian Health Board.
Why Alejandra loves the work that she does.
How Alejandra worked to earn the trust of the communities that she works with.
Examples of projects that the California Rural Indian Health Board runs.
Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the work that Alejandra does.
Next steps in the strategic plan which Alejandra has been developing in response to the opioid epidemic.
Advice from Alejandra for anyone considering a career in public health.
Listen To The Podcast Episode
Career Advice to Public Health Students and Graduates
I would tell current students or graduates to be patient and enjoy their career journey. Some may not land the dream job with amazing pay right out of school, but all the experience will add up over time and set you up for success. I still have so much I want to achieve and that's great, but I have to remind myself from time to time to slow down and soak up as much as I can in my current role instead of being in such a rush to make it to the next level.
Connect With Alejandra
Links Mention In This Episode
Work with Dr. Huntley