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Contact: Laurie Kappe
Guillermo J. Camacho, Shirley Flores-Muñoz and Tomás A. Magaña awarded $25,000 each for leadership in increasing diversity in the health professions
Los Angeles (CA) – Guillermo J. Camacho, a dentist in West Covina, benefited from, and continues to give back to a program at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, that encourages students of color to pursue health careers. Shirley Flores-Muñoz of Watsonville founded and directs a program at Cabrillo College that helps disadvantaged students expand and reach their health career aspirations by providing mentorship and other support. Tomás A. Magaña, a pediatrician at Children's Hospital Oakland, started a collaborative program to bring high school students into local hospitals to pursue health careers.
On June 15, 2009, The California Wellness Foundation (TCWF) honors these three leaders at its seventh annual “Champions of Health Professions Diversity Award” ceremony in Los Angeles. In recognition of their efforts to reduce entry barriers and to ensure the success of underrepresented minorities in the health workforce, the honorees will each receive a cash award of $25,000.
“These three leaders understand the importance of mentoring our state’s youth toward earning a college degree with a goal of securing a career in health care,” said Gary L. Yates, TCWF president and CEO. “Programs and support systems are needed to ensure the success of thousands of students who will be able to deliver culturally competent, language-proficient health care.”
Guillermo J. Camacho
Dr. Guillermo J. Camacho makes it a priority to give back to the community that helped him achieve his goal of becoming a dentist. While a student at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, Camacho participated in the Science Educational Enhancement Services (SEES) program, which promotes diversity among students in the College of Science and encourages first-generation college students to pursue careers in the sciences. He continues to be involved in the SEES program as a speaker and role model to underrepresented students interested in health careers. He is currently a neuromuscular cosmetic dentist with his own practice, Sunset Dental Professionals, in West Covina.
“I believe that many high school students get discouraged from pursuing careers in the health professions or never find out that it is an option,” Camacho said. “Sometimes we listen to people who try to knock us down. I have learned that anything is possible if you focus on your goals and dreams.”
Dr. Shirley Flores-Muñoz founded and serves as program director of Pathways to Health Careers, a program at Cabrillo College organized to recruit and support underrepresented and first-generation college students who pursue health careers. In the last five years alone, Pathways to Health Careers has encouraged more than 3,000 students to engage in health-related subjects and activities. She is also a professor of women’s studies and history at the college.
“We must encourage that learning curiosity. We need to be more inclusive in order to allow students to participate fully in our economic system,” Flores-Muñoz said. “We need to teach them for the benefit of social equity and social justice. They need something that sustains their hope and raises their expectations.”
Tomás A. Magaña
A passionate advocate for health workforce diversity, Dr. Tomás A. Magaña has dedicated himself to helping youth empower themselves to pursue careers in health care. Magaña was deeply affected by the lack of diversity he experienced throughout his medical training. In an effort to correct that, he co-founded the FACES for the Future program at Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland in 2000. FACES for the Future is a comprehensive program that prepares high school students from disadvantaged areas for entry into health careers through services such as internships, mentorship and psycho-social support. Magaña is also an attending physician of adolescent medicine at Children's Hospital Oakland and medical director of Alameda County's Juvenile Justice Center.
“Too many decisions are made without representation from our young kids,” Magaña said. “Many of them have the answers. In fact, they’re some of the brightest and the most insightful individuals in our community. Any service designed to serve young people—and especially our most at-risk—must incorporate their voices.”
The California Wellness Foundation is a private independent foundation created in 1992, with a mission to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention. The Foundation has a Responsive Grantmaking Program that prioritizes eight issues for funding: diversity in the health professions, environmental health, healthy aging, mental health, teenage pregnancy prevention, violence prevention, women’s health, and work and health. It also responds to timely issues and special projects outside the funding priorities.
TCWF is one of the state’s largest foundations. Since its first year of operation, TCWF has awarded 5,450 grants totaling more than $685 million. Please visit TCWF’s website at www.CalWellness.org or www.tcwf.org for more information, including a newsroom section devoted to the Champions of Health Professions Diversity Award and the three honorees. High-resolution photos are also available.
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