Meet Alma Garcia, Community Outreach Coordinator for the Community Engagement core group at the Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute. Alma has a teacher associate certification in early childhood special education from Cerritos Community College, 20 years of experience working as a promotora, and 10 years of experience working on research studies with institutions such as the University of Southern California, the University of California, Los Angeles, Kaiser Permanente, and March of Dimes. She educates the Latino community about health research studies and the important role they play in advancing science and medicine. Here, Alma shares why she joined SC CTSI, what inspires her to continue working in the community, and offers advice to prospective community health workers.

Where are you from?

What do you do in your current role?
I work with the Latino community, facilitating different educational workshops about health-related topics. I work directly with communities surrounding the University of Southern California (USC) and Children's Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). I provide resources and information to empower underserved communities to become more involved in their health. Our educational workshops help remove barriers that many communities face when deciding to participate in a research study by promoting and improving health and scientific literacy among Latino communities. I use popular education techniques to empower vulnerable communities and promote well-being and development to help them achieve personal and collective goals.

Can you share a bit about your educational and work experience?
I have a teacher associate certification in early childhood special education from Cerritos Community College. I also have 20 years of experience working as a Promotora Comunitaria with a certification from Planned Parenthood, and 10 years of experience working on different projects and research studies with various organizations including USC, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Kaiser Permanente, March Of Dimes, and others.

What compelled you to join the Community Engagement group at SC CTSI?
I joined SC CTSI because I wanted an opportunity to work directly with researchers and educate my community using the "promoter model" to better understand health research studies and the important role they play in discovering and advancing science and medicine for all. 

What does community mean to you?
Being a part of a group that shares similar traditions, speaks the same language as me, identify with the same desires for self-improvement in an environment that feels safe to be able to live and grow freely. 

What is most rewarding about your job?
Knowing that the community trusts me and appreciates my work. I may have the same needs as the people in my community, and they know that I will do my best so that they can have access to the resources we offer them.

What inspires you?
Knowing that there is a great need in my community and that I can make a difference in someone's life.

What are some of your hobbies outside of work?
I enjoy spending time with my family, traveling, and learning new skills that will benefit my work as a promotora. I also like to learn about nutrition, exercise, and health.

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to get involved in community work?
That this type of work is more voluntary than paid and you need to have passion, time, love, and empathy to work in the community with people who need you.

NIH Funding Acknowledgment: Important - All publications resulting from the utilization of SC CTSI resources are required to credit the SC CTSI grant by including the NIH funding acknowledgment and must comply with the NIH Public Access Policy.