Degree gives alumna a seat at the table
A career in community health inspired Maricela Marquez ’18, ’22 MS to grow in her profession as an advocate for Latino patients. For Marquez, this meant advancing her career at Rochester Regional Health by enrolling in RIT’s health systems management Master of Science program.
Marquez was encouraged by her mentor and role model, Lucia Colindres-Vasquez, chief program officer at Ibero-American Action League in Rochester. “She is a Latina, like myself, and she motivated me to get a higher degree, saying, ‘If we want to take care of our people, our community, we have to be at that table. We have to be part of the organization from within.’”
Marquez agrees. “It’s not just me wanting to move up for myself, but that is the only way we can get things done.”
Marquez earned her BS from the School of Individualized Study and then reached out to Carla Stebbins, director of RIT’s health systems management MS degree.
“Carla first asked me where I was and where I wanted to go,” Marquez said. “She dove into the classes and expectations and what we can do, and my eyes got huge. I thought, ‘I want to do it. I want to be a part of this.’ Carla was there every step of the way.”
The RIT program positioned Marquez to take advantage of a new opportunity at Rochester Regional Health as a part-time project coordinator for the National Health Service Corp., a government-funded loan repayment program. She also worked part time as an access associate in the Rochester General Hospital Emergency Department, where she had started her career in health care.
Months before finishing the graduate program last August, Marquez was promoted to program manager for the National Health Service Corp. The office supports qualified health care professionals who work within communities of need. Marquez is the point of contact for these professionals.
Her graduate education led to her role on the team that created the Rochester Regional’s new Multicultural Resource Center to serve Spanish-speaking people and individuals from other cultural backgrounds.
In her expanded position as lead to the Multicultural Resource Center, Marquez focuses on social determinants of health and connects people with resources from the community, such as care managers from Ibero-American Action League for Spanish speakers, and from agencies, including LawNY; the Empire Justice Center’s Creating Assets, Savings, and Hope (CASH) program; and the Cornell Cooperative Extension, that assist speakers of other languages.
A new mural in the waiting room represents people from different cultures who might come to the center. Marquez hopes the mural’s welcoming tone puts people at ease when they enter the facility.
“Most people come through our doors because they have some sort of illness or they’re trying to prevent one,” Marquez said. “I think sometimes in the United States we forget the niceties. At the end of the day, we’re all human and would appreciate a helping hand.”