Our first young adult that we want to highlight is Brenda. Brenda is a native of Tucson, AZ, and works in border health initiatives and as a community health educator in the Arizona border region. As a first generation Mexican-American woman she seeks to inspire other first generation Mexican-Americans to create positive changes in their communities. She loves working with local migrant farm worker populations in Cochise county and seeing people excited about healthy lifestyles.
I also asked Brenda to show me four symbolic objects in her life, and here is what she shared.
Brenda comes from a family with non-western traditions. Her mom has always given her a bracelet to protect her from mal de ojo. She wears the bracelet so much that she has a tan line from the bracelet. Whenever it rips she always gets new one, and her mom tells her it has served its purpose and gives her a new one. Whenever she is not wearing her bracelet, she feels like something is missing, and her friends and family notice that she doesn’t have her red on too. Her red bracelets will usually have an appendant of a saint, which has a religious function of her catholic beliefs. Having a saint on the bracelet helps her center herself in prayer, God and spiritual connection. The red color on her bracelet reminds her of her family blood and family ties.
Photo of Sister
This is an older picture of Brenda’s sister that she always has in her wallet. It is a photo that she always carries with her because her and her sister are really close. Whenever she is having a hard day, and she opens up her wallet to buy something, the picture reminds her that things are going to be okay. Her sister has always motivated her to be successful. Her sister has special needs and has been through a lot in her short life. So, when she looks at the picture it reminds her that if her sister has been able to get through hard things in life, then she can get through everything too. Since her sister is five years younger than her, she has taken more of a parental role with her sister. And seeing her go through so many life struggles, has made her look up to her sister because of her resilience.
When Brenda graduated her professor gave this chain to her as a gift. Her professor told her that she would always need these two things for her type of work – faith and love. The necklace is a reminder to her and her work that she needs to have faith in herself and love for herself to share faith and love with others in her work. In her field of work, having faith in herself is a reminder to not doubt herself or get mad at herself with mistakes. When you work in community health it can be easy for someone to doubt themselves even though the work can really impact people. Brenda has learned that it is very important to have trust with communities because they are relying on you for their health, and you can easily lose people’s trust if you make a mistake. In whatever public health work that Brenda does, she does it with love and faith that her work will impact their health. For Brenda, giving love to her work means that she tries to be a loving person and treat people as she would like to be treated. In this way, being loving means giving them respect.
Brenda carries this agenda everywhere because she likes to plan everything out. If she does not write something out then she can’t conceptualize it. She feels like she is never off from work, so she always has it with her to write things down. When she is working she is also not off from her personal life so she will write down personal things in her agenda. It helps her then organize and balance out her life so if she has too many work things planned and then she can move things to a later day. Her agenda helps her keep a good work-life balance. She also feels like she is a busy person, especially, last semester when she had to balance being a student, having a profession and having a personal life. Since Brenda has to travel a lot for work, her agenda lets her know where she will be that day. When she opens up her agenda it gives her a sigh of relief that she sees what she has to do for the day because if she just went from her memory, she thinks she would be a lost soul. She also feels that she is involved with a lot of things in work and out of work because she is starting new projects or new interests a lot, so her agenda allows her to time manage and do the best she possibly can. It also allows her to prioritize her days at work, the projects she is working on and other things she has going on outside of work.