SIOUX CENTER – Stephanie Aguilar’s interest in health care was kindled by the biology aspect of how the body works and breaks down.
But her interest spread during college from a focus on the medical aspect to an understanding of how social problems can be the root cause of many illnesses.
“It was much more interesting understanding where a person comes from – from their family and their culture – and studying the factors that lead to poverty, which is the No. 1 cause of health problems everywhere,” she said. “I just felt that I gained a lot more by understanding where this person comes from and then being able to treat them as a whole and not just focus on their illness. Stepping out and seeing the whole picture of why that person came here can make it a lot easier to treat that person.”
Stephanie – who graduated from Northwestern College in Orange City in May with a bachelor’s degree in translation and interpretation, with a focus on biology – will put that holistic approach for health care to daily use in her new role as a full-time family planning coordinator and outreach specialist at Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center.
While volunteering as an interpreter from time to time at Promise during college, she gained an appreciation for how Promise addresses the social causes of health problems and is culturally sensitive in all aspects of its care for people.
“I like seeing the realness of this job,” Stephanie said, noting that she addresses many needs in the lives of patients in her outreach role, ranging from helping them enroll in Medicaid and other programs to getting them connected to the right health-care provider. “I’ve always wanted to provide a service that a person needs help with. It’s meaningful because I get to meet the person for a little bit and be a part of a little snapshot of their lives. I like working with families.”
Stephanie was born in Macon, GA, and grew up much of her life in Athens, TN. When she was a sophomore in high school, her family moved to Cherokee, where she graduated from Washington High School in 2011. She then enrolled at Northwestern College to receive a Christian higher education.
She volunteered for a couple of years during college as an interpreter for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) clinics and on an on-call status at the Sioux County Jail in Orange City – in addition to helping out at Promise.
“That will always stick out in my mind,” she said about her help at the jail. “When people are in those situations, there is a lot of shame and embarrassment, so I learned how to navigate those sensitive situations with compassion. They were really vulnerable, so once you see that, you’re more prepared to deal with future adversities.”
Stephanie thinks her education and experience in interpretation and translation will make her a good fit for her position at Promise, which cares for many Spanish-speaking people.
“Back when I was younger, I didn’t see a lot of people who understood my family in these types of positions,” she said. “I really like the cultural aspect of health care. It adds a variety of challenges. It’s humbling to see immigrants come in. I’m not tending to just one type of population. I like diversity.”
Promise Community Health Center, which is based in Sioux Center, is the only Federally Qualified Health Center in the far northwest corner of Iowa. Promise provides medical, prenatal, dental, vision and behavioral health services. To learn more, visit www.promisechc.org and watch this video. To read more Promise news visit, promisechcnews.blogspot.com.
MORE ABOUT STEPHANIE:
In her free time, Stephanie Aguilar enjoys socializing and having a cup of coffee. She also likes opportunities to get to know new people.