Marlene Luna, a member of College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) at Cal State Long Beach (CSULB), went to Palo Alto in northern California this summer, where she served with the Department of Veterans Affairs—Veterans Health Administration as a Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) intern.
“I am very excited and thankful to have been selected,” said Luna at them time. “It is truly an experience that has helped me grow professionally as well as an individual.”
She recently received her bachelors in health care administration from CSULB.
This fall, she is attending UCLA’s Masters of Public Health Program and hopes to eventually obtain a Ph.D. in public health. Luna believes one reason for her selection was her experience in a variety of fields. “In addition, I feel that my major prepared me well by providing challenging courses as well as projects that helped my teamwork and leadership skills,” she said.
Her internship responsibilities included assisting in coordinating and carrying out administrative activities under the Executive Office of the Deputy Director, providing administrative support for executive leadership, developing of statistical and/or informational reports, reviewing and drafting executive correspondence, coordinating meetings, collecting information pertinent to health care system goals and participating in special projects.
CAMP is a federally funded program that assists students who are migratory or seasonal farmworkers or children of such workers enrolled in their first year of undergraduate studies. The program is aimed at promoting continued enrollment and eventual graduation from the university. Services include outreach, counseling, tutoring, skills workshops, financial aid stipends, health services and housing assistance to eligible students during their first year of college.
Luna’s road to CSULB began with her attendance at the all-girl private Ramona Convent Secondary School, which guided her to CSULB.
“A difficulty that I faced was being the first in my family to go to college,” she explained. “During my SOAR orientation, I had no idea what classes to take. It was not until I went to the CAMP office that I understood the GE pattern,” she recalled. “In addition, I took the bus to school for three years where I was fortunate enough to meet Provost Donald Para.
“My first two years I worked off campus and, like many students, my day consisted of school and then leaving so I could get to work on time,” she continued. “Eventually, I was fortunate to get a job at HSI: Mi Casa Mi Universidad. I must say, that is when my life at CSULB changed. I was able to spend more time on campus, meet other people, and I became aware of resources that I did not know of before.”
Luna remembered receiving the call of a CAMP recruiter to ask if she wanted to be part of the program. “I am glad I said yes because CAMP helped me and guided me my freshman year,” she said “Taking EOP 100 with CAMP’s Lina Lopez informed me about all the resources there were on campus as well as resources such as HACU.
“It is because of CAMP that I was informed about other programs that also contributed to my success such as SSSP, the McNair Scholars program and HSI: Mi Casa Mi Universidad. I feel that I am a product of the TRIO programs. CAMP helped me survive my freshman year, SSSP advised me for my sophomore through junior year, and the McNair program guided me in my grad school applications and my publication of my first article.”
Luna’s career goals are many, but they unite in a dream of involvement in the health field. “As an epidemiologist and health care administrator, I want to help minorities who are constantly affected by infectious diseases,” she said. “In particular, I want to focus on how sexually transmitted infections and HIV affect the Latino population. My ultimate goal is to someday have a center in which I can provide resources for young minorities to be able to educate them about safe sex.”
HACU was established in 1986 with a founding membership of 18 institutions and is the only national educational association that represents Hispanic-Serving Institutions such as CSULB. Today, HACU represents more than 400 colleges and universities committed to Hispanic higher education success in the United States, Puerto Rico, Latin America, Spain and Portugal.