Integrative health is a holistic approach to healthcare that aims to support health by combining conventional and complementary forms of care. As a long time social justice advocate throughout her time in UC Berkeley's School of Public Health, Camila De Pierola has always believed that social, environmental, and structural factors play an important role in the health of marginalized groups. In this episode we explore Camila de Pierola's path to medical school and the field of public health, as well as her ideas as to why an integrative approach to health is necessary.
Reimagining OEHS with Camila De Pierola, MPH (Part 1)
REIMAGINING OEHS WITH CAMILA DE PIEROLA, MPH (PART 2)
Transcript for Do the Change: Reimagining OEHS with Camila De Pierola, MPH
Tyra: Hi everyone, welcome to the Do the Change podcast. So it's basically a podcast we challenging and reimagining OEHS. And so this podcast focuses on highlighting leaders in their field and how they got to where we are today. The special focus on the field of occupational health, environmental sciences. But we're also going to be touching on topics that are kind of more on the broader kind of outskirts of that field as well.
And so yeah, we're talking about the hills and the valleys of these speakers journeys and also get some insight onto some nontraditional parts into the field. So my name is Tyra Parrish. I’m a recent grad from the MPH program here at Cal. Our first guest speaker on this podcast is Camila De Pierola. And so let me tell you a little bit about Camila. She’s super amazing. So Camila graduated from LMU, Loyola Marymount University, in 2020 and she has also recently earned her master's in public health at UC Berkeley in spring of 2023. So congratulations! And this fall she will begin her medical school journey at UC Berkeley's UCSF medical program. So while at LMU she was an active social justice advocate, specifically leading the immigration club resilience, institutionalizing support for undocumented students and advocating at the legislative level, and so inspired by her work at LMU and her experience as an mmigrant from Peru, she also founded the Undocu network through the nonprofit the Ignatian Solidarity Network. And this Undocu network is a national support group for undocumented young adults with AIMS to provide resources, build community and mitigate adverse mental health outcomes through social connection.
Camila’s collaborative efforts also led her to pursue an MPH to dive deeper into health disparities work, which is awesome. And there she expanded her research and gained insight on social, environmental and structural factors of impacting health, particularly that of minoritized groups. And so her goal as a medical student and a future physician is to intentionally promote health equity across the health care system and academic institutions, while also undoing policies that uphold the oppression. So what haven't you done yet? So welcome to the show. So to kick it off, I want to start with just a check-in question just to kind of just start off on just a different note, just to kind of spice it up a little bit. So then I’m gonna spin this little wheel that you can't see. So the question is, what is one thing you've done recently to step outside of your comfort zone?
Camila: MM Well, first, thank you for having me on this podcast.
Camila: Buy some time to think about that question.
Camila: Um, one thing out of my comfort zone. So I actually am starting I'm collaborating on a research project within the field of sociology. I didn’t major in sociology. I've only taken some classes and have delved into books and professors um that taught sociology and teach sociology and learning from that. So that kind of pushed me to take a sort of go out of my comfort zone of either medicine and public health or psychology. So now I'm working on that project this summer, and I'm really excited about it because I'm going to be learning a lot from Professor and also my peers that are going to be that I'll be working with as well. So that's yeah, sociology is a really big and complicated field and it is kind of intimidating, but I'm really excited to learn more about that and being able to apply it to my future work also.
Tyra: Yeah, I mean, sociology is literally in everything Literally yeah, so that's going to be Oh, yes, I'm just that's I mean, that's awesome. Okay, so we're just going to actually maybe I should share something. Hmm. I am. I think for me, I mean, it's not it's not on that level, but it's very small. I did this morning. I like drank coffee. It's just a lot for me because I don't drink coffee. But I did. And now I get I kind of get the hype a little bit. I'm a little scared because I was like, trying to avoid the….Like, Oh, I drink coffee every day, but I see it now. Like, I tried I tried something with brown sugar or something at Starbucks. It's pretty good. And yeah, it was good. So
Camila: in moderation.
Tyra: In moderation, Yeah. Like I'm a noob so I jumped headfirst. Okay. So I'm just going to jump into the first question. These questions are more tailored towards kind of like the journey aspect of where you go to. So yeah, so a lot of people take very traditional paths into their careers. But again, this podcast really focuses on exploring the really nontraditional paths that aren't as kind of straightforward, etc.. So first question, did you take a nontraditional approach into this field? And could you talk a little bit more about that and how it's influenced your perspective? Maybe you feel like folks traditional route versus the route you went and yeah, and just walk us through your journey. So you mentioned it a bit from LMU to Berkeley. So yeah,
Camila: Yeah. Well, I've always wanted to pursue medicine since I was eight years old, so that's a really weird story. Long story short, I was able to… when I was eight, I was able to witness the birth of my little brother, and most kids would be screaming and crying. But yeah, but I was excited about everything that happened.
Camila: So, yeah, that, that kind of led me on this path. And then obviously in college I focused more on that and went into college as pre-med. Yeah, but I didn't choose a traditional STEM major. I actually chose bio. I chose psychology with a biochemistry minor and I chose psychology because I didn't want to invest 150% of my time in STEM because I knew I would be taking those courses anyways. Right? So I wanted to, you know, get more, you know, different perspectives. And then I also really love psychology because I wanted, you know, the whole at the time, what I wanted to do was really understand why people do the things they do and why, particularly in the context of injustice. Why do people think that is right? What are the why? What are the motives behind injustice and the atrocities we see in everyday life? And historically? And so even though I was pre-med in undergrad, my route to public health was completely spontaneous. I didn't know what public health was. I had to Google it as I was applying to Berkeley. Full transparency.
Camila: But a lot of the work that I was doing at LMU was public health work. I was creating initiatives for the undocumented community, trying to direct resources to them in order to not only, you know, help them in their academic work and career development, but also in terms of their health and their mental well-being.
Camila: Sort of like overlap of all these issues, you know, academics, jobs, etc., on top of one's immigration status as well. So I realized with the help of my friends, that that was public health work. And that's why I decided after graduating, I took one gap year. I guess you could. I was doing a post bac at a local community college to finish my prerequisites for medical school, and during that year I was doing more of that work with the undocumented community. So that's really where I decided, you know, I'm going to do a master's in public health to gain more knowledge and insight on the different factors impacting health.
Camila: And then apply that, you know, be able to apply that to medical school and my journey there as well. So public health definitely was not it was not even a thought until recently. And I think for most people too, I think especially people in our cohort, right. I think the pandemic really inspired people to pursue public health after. All.
Camila: So and then medicine, you know, medicine, pre-med was a battle, but we're here now.
Tyra: But you won it cause you’re in medical school now.
Camila: There was a vision, but there were a lot of things that were not expected throughout
Tyra: Right? Yeah.
Camila: So, yeah, more or less linear, traditional, but also not.
Tyra: Yeah. Yeah. And I think or actually I wanted to touch on a little bit more because you said that you or it was mentioned that you started the Undocu network, I would love for you can one just kind of for those folks who just don't know what undocumented means and like what particular like unique barriers and obstacles like folks in that community face. Do you mind just like touching on that real quick because it may be someone's first time hearing or getting a more concrete definition.
Camila: MM Yeah. So being undocumented in the United States means that you do not hold citizenship or residency status or any sort of visa in the United States, but you reside. And so I created the Undocu Network through the Ignatian Solidarity Network, which is a national nonprofit, basically through a need during the pandemic at LMU I did a lot of work with the undocumented community and the students there and created a support group during the summer, during the first year after the pandemic, to keep our community connected with the school and also just, you know, a lot of like uncertainty, uncertainties, especially with a lot of, you know, undocumented people not having access to health insurance, losing job or becoming more difficult, increased, you know, fear of deportation, all that kind of stuff.
Camila: So right. That support group inspired me to take it to the national level thinking, you know, there's a lot of undocumented students at these other Jesuit universities across the country that may not be as much support as the students at LMU do know. They may know one or two or no other undocumented students there. And, you know, they really want and need this support. And so I figured, why not, you know, create a sort of mutual aid type of network that would benefit everyone here and guide each other through.
Camila: But also just, you know, our careers and life and things like that.
Tyra: Yeah, I think I think that program is really awesome because like, just, just like you said, where one just kind of the experience of being undocumented is super unique. And then also when you really start concentrating it are like specific Jesuit universities, depending on where they're at, like California, Jesuit universities might be a little bit more progressive than the Jesuit universities that are maybe on the East Coast because I know there's like one in Boston or something like that.
So that's really dope that you're just connecting undocumented folks at different universities that may experience or protect students in different ways and could help kind of like cross. I don't want to say cross-pollinate because that is not a good word, but like for us sort of… ,
Camila: Environmental Health is coming out.
Tyra: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Bees are dying.
Camila: It's really cool. We meet biweekly over Zoom still to this day. So we've been going 3 years now and in the past two years we were we've been able to allocate funds in order to have an in-person summit. So we've had two annual in-person summits where we've had the first time that we had about 25 students fly into California from around the country. And this past February, we had 40 students fly in. 40 undocumented students come from all over the country to attend the summit. Have, you know, workshops, build community, get to know each other in person and talk about things that a lot of other people would not understand
Tyra: That's awesome. Yeah, like that's I can only imagine how those students like, feel having that support and also having support from those who reflect the community that they are or part of or that's part of their identity. So yeah, that's really awesome. So I'm going to jump or shift kind of back into this conversation about like your journey and stuff like that. So like, were there any specific challenges or obstacles that you faced in your path to or yeah, in your path to where you're at now? How did you overcome them? And like, what lessons did you learn from those experiences?
Camila: There were a lot of challenges…
Tyra: Whatever you feel comfortable sharing,
Camila: and I don't think there's a single pre-med that tells you there are no challenges.
Tyra: Yeah, I would. I would think they're lying. I'm like, You're lying. just the MCAT itself is a challenge. Please.
Camila: And the point. Yeah, but one of the biggest challenges during my undergrad was seeing how medicine can be a form of social justice in practice.
Camila: Because in my pre-med classes, you know, you have to do biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, all these things you're learning about how the body works, how cells work, etc. not necessarily medicine or diagnosing, but, you know, the basic stuff. And you don't at least I couldn't really see how that connected with health disparities, how that connected with racism, and how that connected with, you know, poor health outcomes in minoritized communities.
And why were there why are there policies that support, you know, this sort of oppression among groups? why is there access for certain groups and not for others? I couldn't see the connection between this molecule. I'm learning in organic chemistry, like the lives of real people that are being. And that was a challenge that I navigated by seeking internships within the communities that I wanted to work with.
Camila: Marginalized communities in the area of Los Angeles so that I could, you know, not just help in those situations as much as I could as an undergraduate student, but also learn about the complexity of the health care system and its pitfalls. And what I want to do in the future in order to tackle those. And so I guess, yeah, the way I navigated that was really immersing myself in the community within the health care context.
Camila: In order to, you know, really see the why I was taking physics and struggling through it, because it's like at the end of the tunnel, okay, if I get through this class, I can go out there and be in those spaces to, you know, be in partnership with the communities and improve health.
Tyra: Yeah, that's Now that makes total sense. That's all I can say because Yeah, because sometimes I be sitting like I remember sitting in physics to be like, what does normal force have anything to do with what's going on to folks who need like help? Like that has nothing to do with anything. No one cares. But I think the way that you painted it just like it is kind of I don't want to say a means to an end, but it is like something you do have to go through. And I know that something may test on the MCAT and then when you do that, then you're able to do that this very quick. So sometimes the class theory may have no correlation ever, which is something you've got to kind of roll with the punches and move on.
Camila: I think also another like just getting another way to tackle that was also just being open to different experiences that in mind. For example, like after my freshman year of undergrad, I jumped into being an orientation coordinator full time for the summer, at LMU, and it was not something I could have ever predicted, but that job opportunity showed me like it gave me so many skills in terms of communication management, like organizing groups of thousands of people, sort of customer service, which is also in health care.
Camila: So just being open to different, you know, diverse experiences like that because you never know what you're going to learn from it and who you're going to meet and you know how those lessons can be applicable in the future.
Tyra: Yeah, I just side note, I just want to add so I didn't I didn't say, but I also went to LMU. Me and Camila did not know each other before, which is a whole other like origin story of how we met each other at Berkeley. But just for some perspective, being an orientation leader, particularly in the years we went, was so chaotic. But you're right that there is like a lot of skills you learn because you have to manage a lot of personalities, a lot of people. There are a couple of years where you had large groups of students and it was not okay. So in regards to like managing that, you're totally right that sometimes those jobs that may be on your resume may look like kind of like off jobs. You're like, Whoa, like, why did you do that? are sometimes the most rewarding jobs in regards to skills or like managing 30 people. It could be very helpful if you're like doing occupational safety work and like and like an industrial site, we got to manage 30 like adults or in the health system where you are managing 30 patients. So it's not just you can kind of look outside of like the job title and stuff like that. So it's really awesome. And I think I want to follow up with kind of a more specific question on like, have you seen any overlap, particularly in your work with public health, in medicine, with occupational health or EHS in kind of like anyway,
Camila: Yeah, I don't I don't think you can do medicine or public health without considering.
Tyra: I feel like that was like I said it out loud and I was like, hmmm
Camila: I mean I think if you're not, I think all in the context of anything related to health, which is close to everything, unless I mean, everything impacts your health, right?
Tyra: You're right.
Camila: You need to have an integrative perspective. Yeah. If you don't, then you're going to neglect someone or some group or some community or overlook something that you know, very important.
Camila: So, you know, occupational health, especially with it when you're looking at, you know, families or people in lower socioeconomic status or communities that have been, you know, impacted by institutional racism and historically you know, been oppressed where they work, where people live, the quality of those spaces, the protections and regulations, whether they are there or severely lacking, that all impacts, you know, their overall health. And so I think you need to look at that. And the MPH at Berkeley has really allowed me to dive deeper into how those how different spaces can look and why they were created in the first place in order to divide people. And yeah, so I really I really want to dive deeper into that and learn more. And I've been able to get a glimpse of it through some of the research I did as my internship for the MPH.
Camila: I was able to work on a qualitative project under the Greater CHAMACOS study done through Berkeley and UCSF. And in the study I worked on, we looked at perceptions of Alzheimer's and dementia among Latinas in Salinas, California. You know, some of the the women that we interviewed were agricultural workers, you know, working in the fields in Salinas or would take care of children in. And even though we weren't talking about asthma, we weren't talking about pesticide exposure, it still comes up, right, Because
Camila: …the communities are worried about that's something that the communities are hearing about and not just for their own sake, but the sake of their children and their children's children and all that. So even though we were talking about Alzheimer's and dementia, like everything is interconnected, right?
Camila: You're you're affected by one thing and it doesn't affect the rest of your brain.
Camila: So it's really important to look at, you know, even though say we are like talking about awareness of, you know, symptoms of dementia or symptoms of Alzheimer's. You also need to work with the community to see, okay, what are the regulations in place for these farm workers? What what is the, you know, levels of pesticide within the community and all these kinds of things still impacting them?
Tyra: Yeah, and I'll throw in a little bit of , I’ll sprinkle a little bit of EHS for folks that don't know, like particularly with folks who work in like agricultural fields, like that stuff just doesn't stay on the field. It's like it's like on your hands and your nails. And then when they go home and they're like touching their kids, even if they even if they wash their hands, take a shower, it's still there.
And so if they have their child or touch their kids like toys, and then the kid touches it, because we all know kids like touching their face and stuff, That's how sometimes kids who maybe have never been near agricultural field in their life are still exposed tothe same like pesticides that their parents were kind of working within. And so that's just a little sprinkle of EHS. That's not not too crazy. And then also now there's this thing called AG Pass or something like that in the vineyards where during like the fires and stuff like that, some of the vineyard owners were trying to get this permit to make their workers stay and work during wildfires while they can leave, which is a whole nother problem and like feel free to look that up. It is really problematic. I don't know why it's still around and it's kind of it's very reminiscent of some historical stuff that happened.
Camila: It's it's today and it's yesterday and it's years ago
Tyra: and it's it's years ahead of
Camila: and you know tomorrow unless you and I and others…
Camila: But yeah, I think my approach to medicine or health just I wouldn't even say just medicine. I think I just my life, I guess, life is that… People say, Oh yeah, it's so complex. And so we have to focus on this aspect of this. But and I personally think that you can't just silo all of these issues because they're so interconnected, and just harder to look at them in a more complicated sense. Like doesn't mean you shouldn't put the effort to do it. It's like doing work on hard to reach communities and it's like, why are they so hard to reach? Because you don't want to go there or because you're comfortable, right?
Tyra: Where I'm like, where I'm like, it's only like things are only impossible to you do it like, and then you realize, Oh, it's actually not that hard. And sorry, like, racism is not simple. So addressing racism or systemic racism, institutionalized racism is not going to be easy. So you saying it's not easy is acknowledging the complexity of what it is. Okay, so now what do we do? We create complex methods or solutions to complex problems. You know, like no one said that about physics. Physics is complex, you know, so
Camila: Things that target all of these issues that we see, for example, in the study, we saw that, you know, people were worried about pesticide exposure. People were also worried about housing, housing insecurity.
Camila: That's something you have to work. You have to make an effort to help in that in that sense as well, because you can't just be like, well, you know, this is the only information we needed and everything else could look even better. Thank you.
Tyra: That's not our job.
Camila: Yeah, but you can’t do that, especially when it impacts people's health and well-being. And everyone deserves to have a long and healthy life.
Tyra: Right. Okay, So I'm glad you ended on that cause that loops into my next thing, because I want to circle back to what we had touched or actually mentioned earlier in your intro, which is that you were in the joint medical program. So that's very huge, especially as a fellow person of color. That's a big deal. So can you talk kind of more about that program? What is the joint medical program for those who are curious about it? And what what is so unique about that program in regards to health care and how it's discussed and approached?
Camila: Yeah, yeah. The Joint Medical Pro… I, I'm starting in August,
Tyra: oh August? Oh I said fall. Yeah. It's like two months!
Camila: I can already see I mean I applied for a reason. I'm really excited to go because it is a one of a kind program like, you know, UCSF has its own medical school, right? But it’slike this is a partnership with UC Berkeley and it consists of a small cohort of 16 students. That's and so the whole program is five years long. You spend the first two and a half years at Berkeley studying the foundations of medicine and also concurrently doing a master's of science.
Camila: And during those two and a half years, you only learn about medicine through a problem based learning style, but you also are able to take classes throughout the entire school of UC Berkeley so you can take law classes, sociology classes, environmental classes
Tyra: I wouldn’t recommend environmental classes
Camila: …you know, English classes, anything pottery, whatever you want, right? So you get a very diverse perspective. And the ability to essentially learn whatever you want to learn and that can, you know, shape the way you learn medicine, too. And then second, so the last two and a half years, you are at UCSF.
Camila: …Doing your rotations. So, yeah, the program is, you know, very community focused and allows you to learn medicine and talk about medicine in a way that prioritizes people.
Tyra: Isn't that crazy?
Camila: Humanize medicine
Tyra: Medicine, people,
Camila: ...and, you know, also allows you to learn more about what you're interested in and apply that to medicine. So, for example, if you want to learn, dive into sociology and dive into critical theory, or if you want to dive into gender or women's studies or whatever it may be, and take that and apply it to health care, you know, flexibility to do so and also talk about it with your peers.
The case based learning, you get to go over specific cases in order to understand medicine.
Tyra: Oh cool.
Camila: And I think that really humanizes it because you're not just doing a multiple choice question on some obscure health factors that…
Tyra: Yeah this actually happened
Camila: There is there is a person behind these symptoms, right?
Camila: You are the one communicating with them and also caring about them.
Camila: So, yeah, it's a really unique program that really prioritizes health equity. And so I'm very excited to be in it.
Tyra: And you're also collecting degrees because now you're at like or you're going to be at four in like five years. Five years? Yeah, that's crazy. You're going to be at four. That's awesome and dope and Inspirational to see that happen. I just as an outsider looking in, but also very supportive, cheerleader on the side. That's awesome.
Tyra:Hi guys, this is Tyra Parrish your host for this episode and we have reached the end of part one of this conversation with this amazing speaker. Don't click out yet because part two of this conversation has already been posted. So go ahead and click over to the next page. And don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel and Spotify page
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Tyra: Hey y’all, welcome back to part two of our conversation with Camila De Pierola on the Do the Change podcast. We're going to hop right back into this conversation. Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel and Spotify page.
Tyra: So I'm going to do a hard topic switch, kind of, but also dive deeper to some topics, like just more about leadership skills and advice for students looking to join the field of public health or medicine, or just wanting just to see just general information about experiences or general information about how to go about getting experiences in their field of interest. Because you've done a lot of work in regards to or a lot of work that's ended up tailoring towards kind of where you're at now. And so the first question is how important, how important is it for individuals from underrepresented and historically marginalized communities to see leaders who look like them in the field? And if you've had any experience, kind of seeing folks who look like you in the field or represent your community, how does that make you feel as yourself or kind of growing in your own leadership and accomplishments?
Camila: I mean, it's it's highly important, right? You know, some of the issues we have now and that there's not enough representation in medicine, you know, or the communities that are being served. The United States is so diverse and yet, you know, only, I think 5% of physicians are Latinos in us. And I think it's about 10% for black doctors. And you're, you know, being underrepresented in medicine. It's challenging because it's challenging and different in all stages of it being a pre-med and and especially, you know, majority of these students are also first generation. So navigating college. Yeah, on top of being pre-med and it's 1000 requirements. Yeah. That not only you know require your time but also money but so it really feels a lot of time. It really feels like everything has been built to work against you.
Camila: And so I think that's why it's, it's really important to not only have people that understand those experiences and have, you know, successfully gotten through it, but also have that mentorship.
Tyra: Oh, yeah.
Camila: You know, those that have gone through and those that are starting because it's really difficult for other people to understand, you know, what your challenges are if they haven't gone through them. And and people can help in any way they can.
Camila: I've had a lot of mentors, you know, aren't Latino or, you know, anything related to my identity that have helped or tried to help. But it's completely different when someone that understands, like your realities, is able to give their perspective and motivate you as well.
Camila: And one of the programs that has helped me a lot, actually, I did during my first year at Berkeley while I was applying to medical schools, was Mi Mentor and it’s agreat program for, you know, pre-med Latino students. And I was able to join their their student readiness program.
Camila: Or medical I think it's medical student readiness program or something like that. And it was about a year long where they had guest speakers talking about every aspect of the application process as you were applying to medical school and also doing workshops and all that kind of finding you know, various different physicians and also medical students, but they also do a lot of other programing if you're interested in like PA or dentistry or other things. And I think programs like that are really important because you get, you know, firsthand knowledge and wisdom from people
Tyra: Yeah, literally
Camila: …and your background and and also have a lot of the same goals and motivations and passions for why they're doing what they do.
Tyra: Yeah. And like just sometimes seeing one person or meeting one person who's on the same path as you, sometimes they just all you need or sometimes you need to find that one. And like you said, there's like programs that you can just sign up for and like get connected with somebody or maybe you'll run into somebody in your class or someone you don't think is doing it. And then they are. And then that could be someone as well. I know particularly particular really for the field of OEHS Berkeley offers this like diversity and like program where actually it's called STEER and you can apply and basically it connected with a faculty mentor and you kind of can just get direct connection with folks there and build mentorship that way.
But also just, just honestly Google is your best friend. Just be like, Oh, blah, blah, blah. Like whatever field, you're just there like public health mentorship. And then if you really want to go crazy, like put like for black students or for Latina students or for like Asian-Americans students, and they have those specific things and it's just like a simple Google search. So it's really like it's it's there, but it's also like sometimes you need someone to just tell you, like Google Promise you it's there. Yeah, I don't know, ChatGPT you need to check for people.
Camila: Yeah. Or I don't know I think I like stumbled across Mi Mentor on some Instagram page or something
Tyra: See there you go. The one time where like your phone listening in on you paid off.
Camila: Right, right, right.
Tyra: So yeah
Camila: I think other other leaders or like other supporters that may not be in your field are also really helpful because you want you know, maybe the for example my best some of my best mentors. At LMU had nothing to do with health or public health or medicine. I mean, one of them is a theologian
Tyra: Love that!
Camila: …who, you know, that's very, you know, different. Yeah. What I was pursuing, but is, you know, her name's Dr. Cecilia Gonzalez, and she is my biggest supporter and opened a lot of doors, but was also willing to connect me to past students that may have been pre-med or, you know, help other students that maybe are also thinking about pre-med, that are younger. Yeah, definitely seeking, you know, being open to seeking support from other people as well. It doesn't have to be because you never know. Yeah, they can help you with or what kind of doors they can open as well.
Tyra: Yeah. And I guess like a follow up would be like for, for someone who's looking to start building those connections, how would you recommend going about it? Because I know there's like more traditional like ways of, you know, like networking and stuff like that. But I know like for me, probably for you too, from what I know about you, it's like that can sometimes feel like I don't want to say fake. Like it's something like sometimes feel like you're you're operating outside of what's comfortable for you, and maybe you just build it more organically or whatever. So like, what ways would you kind of recommend to go about doing that? Or like, how did you do it with like a mentor or two?
Camila:Yeah, I think, I mean, talking to them, right?
Tyra: Like, like they're people
Camila: I'm like, especially professors. They have office hours, right?
Camila: …hours doesn't have to be just for academic related things. It doesn't just have to be about the class or taking you don't need to be taking their class to go to their office hours and if you…
Tyra: Yeah that’s true. That's right.
Camila: …And so other students oh, this professor is really cool. They're really supportive. They're really nice, you know? Yeah, well, to get you go talk to them because odds are you probably have something in common or, you know, maybe, you know, they have a project that you could work on, even though it may not be exactly, you know, what you thought about.
Camila: ..what sort of opportunities in talking to people and building their because I think it's just better to have good, more quality people in your circle.
Tyra: Oh yeah.
Camila: And worst case scenario, like you have nothing in common and it was just kind of an informal in like interviews. To see what they're doing right?
Camila: I don't think it hurts to talk to people, especially people that are already in positions of power.
Camila: I'm sure there's some wisdom they can provide
Tyra: …and just being honest. Like I love doing the Office Hours at Cal where I'm like, look this is what you're like, I looked you up, read your bio, blah, and like this, like, this is what I've read and I don't really know how to go about this. And this is like, why I'm here. This is who I am and this is what I am trying to do. I just need help. Like, just be honest, I just need help. And maybe they're not the point person, but if you're very honest and clear about what you're trying to get out of that conversation, who knows? They may stick with you or they may be like, Oh, actually this is person for you. And that that was their role in your entire life experience.
Camila: And they might disappoint you too. And I've been disappointed a couple times. But, you know, when the when the bios online seem much better than when you meet in person,
Tyra: …like this person seems so great. I mean, you're like, whoa.
Camila: And that's okay, too. Because, yeah, we tried and you learned from it.
Camila: And still you might get those like other connections of people that might, you know, fit
Tyra: Right. So this is the. Yeah, I'm just going to, I'm just going to jump into it. So being a person of color, talking about compensation in any form can sometimes be uncomfortable or like taboo. But I also think it's important, especially within our communities, to kind of work on making those conversations more comfortable, just being honest and also to it. It's just talking about in certain roles and things of that nature that you deserve and compensated for your time with. And there's also roles where you may be like interning for free, but you're also getting some really valuable experience that may lead to a higher position later. So it's kind of like a weird kind of middle ground sometimes.
And so yeah, so you kind of touched on it with your internship or you do a lot of internship work. And also I do as myself, a lot of volunteer work and yeah, so I'm just internship, an apprentice apprenticeship are common, especially in the fields of medicine, really any STEM field, it's common to kind of common to accumulate those before going full time roles or like some graduate level kind of schooling.
And so I'm, I guess my question to you is how can recent graduates or high school students really assess the value of these opportunities or opportunities and determine if they will align with their long term career goals? So how did you yourself kind of shake out which ones were worth your time? Like, this is worth me doing it for free versus one that was like, it's kind of a waste of time.
Camila: I think the way I went about it was based on what kind of experience I would get from it.
Camila: And also not being afraid of like doing one thing for one year and, you know, if you if it's because you can only work for free for so long
Camila: And it's it's, it's like it's you're in a very privileged position if you're able to do all this volunteering and free labor and internships for a long time because on the one hand you get a lot of experiences, but on the other hand, you know, especially like low income first gen or, you know, students of diverse racial backgrounds
Camila: … it's like you're you need money in order to go to school and be able to go to these internships too
Tyra: Right yeah
Camila: I think seeing the way I saw it was trying to get different experiences and trying them out for, for example, I did Throughout my time at LMU. I had about two jobs on average, all four years, even thoughI did have a full ride to undergrad. I still worked because I did extra money for driving for food
Tyra: I think people hear , full ride and think, Oh, you're set. It's like, No, for those expenses, I don't need to care about, but like I need to live as a student. And obviously if you want to go out, have fun and also eat and live.
Camila: So it's like, yeah, now and just other expenses that come up, whether it be my own or like family expenses too,
Tyra: Right, yeah.
Camila: So, you know, I pursued an internship at a local community clinic that was for about a year and that was unpaid. And I got the most amazing experience there. And I've been able to build relationships with nurses and nurse practitioners that I still continue to this day. Like six years later, we still talk and but I did that for a year because, you know, I couldn't continue that being unpaid and then I saw it in seeing, you know, I need I've done the internship work, you know, I've done this scruff work of like, okay, I'm sorting papers or I'm setting up a patient room and things like that. Now I want to kind of go up on my responsibilities and scope of practice. So I looked into becoming an EMT and I saw EMT course so that when I could get paid, but too, I could also get a different perspective on the health care field. And I worked as an EMT for nine months during my senior year of college, and it was great because I got a lot of different, you know, got to meet all different kinds of people all over Los Angeles County and got to do a lot of cool things that I wouldn't have been able to do as an intern.
Camila: …but at the same time and I was getting paid. But EMTs get paid minimum wage even though you save lives.
Camila: ..no one's not. Also, I mean, you know, I was a college student, so it's not like I was living off of that paycheck.
Camila: But at the same time, you know, it wouldn't have been sustainable. Post-grad. So. And COVID cut my time short anyways.
Tyra: Yeah. On campus, yeah.
Camila: Living in L.A.. But yeah, I think, you know, really saying like, what kind of experiences and skills would you get out of the position, the work you're doing? And you can even get insight from talking to people that have been there before. So for example, for the internship I talked about earlier, I didn't just jump into the internship because it was a clinic. I talked to a student that had been interning there who also went to LMU and asked them like, What is the environment like? Do you feel like you're getting something out of this and all that kind of stuff? And they told me honestly, and I thought, okay, I'm going to go for it because it sounds great. Same with EMT, you know, finding people that have worked before or when you're at your interviews asking them what is the environment in this workplace?
Camila: Do people actually get something out of working here, especially, you know, there's a lot of premeds that are EMT. It's not just people that do it as a full time job. So
Camila: Definitely, you know, getting your getting the information you need to make the right decision.
Tyra: Yeah. And I think that's really good advice. Just ask just being if you know what your goals are, just asking them when you're applying like these are the goals I kind of want out of this or just being like, so be upfront like, like, hey, I'm aspiring doctors blah blah blah, I want to do X, Y, Z. This is what I want to get exposed to. Am I applying to the right position for this or should I be applying to a different position? Because sometimes you just apply to the wrong one. They have multiple like spots open, but I think I appreciate what you said where you were saying that like it's okay to leave after a year if it's not sustainable for you and like what you just need realistically to live life, particularly as a student of color, that's challenging.
You like you're like, okay, like this is helpful. But also it's actually making this other part of my life. Like not as just making it worse than what it needs to be. And like being okay with leaving. And it's it's fine to do that. I'm yeah. So sadly, we are coming to an end of this awesome conversation and thank you for being here open honest with me and the folks listening and you just always have just great things to share, which is why I was super excited to have you here.
And so I just want to end with like one question about self care. How do you manage this yourself and your spirit as you're doing this? Health disparities work because that is emotionally taxing, very emotionally arresting, and also any closing thoughts or advice you have for folks who are thinking about doing change within their field or in the field of just anything really?
And so the question I have for you is what are some daily or weekly self-care routines or habits that you incorporate into your life in how? They overall kind of impacted your wellbeing and your ability to continue to lead and do the work that you are currently doing now.
Camila: Yeah, I think two things. One is talking to people, whether it's your friends or your community, really anyone in your circle?
Camila: I think talking about things is the best way to get through a situation because especially those people understand or are like somewhat in the role. So for example, like if there's something stressful about a class or something a student said, like, I would talk to Tyra,
Tyra: yeah, speed dial
Camila: …and you know, being able to go through like, like, did you think this was okay too, or what's your perspective on this? Or like just kind of getting through and just airing it out essentially, I feel like is the best thing to do for me and it doesnt mean like dumping all your stuff, like on random people.
Camila: just have those key people that, you know, like you can talk to about certain things because it's better to, you know, get it out of your system, then just keep it bottled up inside and yeah, like next week.
Camila: And then the second thing I do is I try to go to the gym consistently and I think that really helps. Like, you know, so talking with friends is the emotional thing. But then the other is the getting it out physically, whether that's through like running or weightlifting or something sort of like reset my body.
Camila: I'll get ready for the next day and also have it ready for a long life.
Tyra: Yeah. Yeah, that's true.
Camila: Yeah. Oh, I think that's how I tackle both. Like, mind and body.
Tyra: Yeah. Like one is very, like, personal, like in regards to, like, regulating your inner self. And the other part is like, you're still practicing like social stuff as well, which is cool. So any last thoughts you'd like to share to the listeners or just in general, like life advice?
Camila: I think my general life advice would be don't be afraid to take risks. Whether that means like talking to a professor you think might be intimidating or going out for a job position or internship, or even just scheduling an informational interview with someone that you think is interesting but have never met in your life? If so,
Camila: Or applying to a number one public university for a public health.
Tyra: Yeah. No. Yeah.
Camila: But like, don't be afraid to take those risks because you never know what could happen.
Tyra: Yeah. I want to echo that because that is so real. Where And also just like, don't be afraid to fail in front of others. I think that being comfortable failing is one thing, but then being or failing in front of others because you're going to learn the most, like staying comfortable in your own space is great. In some instances where it's unsafe environment, but in other moments, stepping outside of that is where you grow the most, and particularly when you're the one asking the questions that no one wants to ask, or you're the one who's making sure that, you know what, I didn't understand what the professor said. Everybody, everybody's nodding their heads. But I don't understand. Imma raise my hand and ask, that is you. That's taking a risk, too, because you're having to disrupt that space, you know? So, yeah, that's awesome advice. Just taking risk and in ways that are comfortable for you obviously, like don't go crazy and like do crazy stuff, but do take risks. Yeah. And so, yeah, I want to thank you for coming on the podcast.
Maybe we'll like do a wrap around when you're in like year two. We're finishing your M.S. degree, but yeah, just thank you for coming on the show. You're you're awesome rock star as I already know. A little biased but yeah yeah. Just thank you. All righty. Well, I will see you soon, later. Yeah Great. Thank you guys for listening to the Do the Change podcast and we'll be having some more awesome speakers later on. Yeah, see y’all soon.
About Camila de Pierola, MPH:
A passionate advocate for social justice and health equity, Camila's journey from LMU to UC Berkeley and beyond is remarkable. As a graduate of LMU, and now with an MPH from UC Berkeley, Camila is looking towards medical school at the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program. Throughout her education, she has focused on advocating for marginalized communities and has tied that vision to her health background by dedicating herself to learning and researching how to best promote health equity across the healthcare system and at academic institutions. Join us as we dive into Camila's inspiring story, her insights on the field of public health, and her advice for other students.
About This Week's Host:
Tyra Parrish, MPH, is a graduate of UC Berkeley's School of Public Health with a concentration in Global Health and Environment and a speciality in Multicultural Health.
Tyra is an advocate for mentorship, lifting others up and helping someone avoid the obstacles that she faced going into the field. Tyra wants to make these conversations as casual and fun as possible and she is excited for you all to listen to her talk with amazing people some of which are close friends, people she met along the way, friends of friends, etc.