Community Health Worker (CHW)

Student Spotlights

Read about Community Health Worker Maria Adolfo-Morales’ work with Indigenous farmworkers who were victims of the Pajaro floods in 2023.

Claudia P

Claudia P. saw a Facebook ad about the CHW certificate at just the right moment. She had completed her bachelor's degree in psychology and had planned on becoming a therapist. However, after graduating she ended up working in hospitality for many years. In late 2019, she decided to leave hospitality and pursue her original academic goals, but then COVID hit, and she needed to figure out her next move.

At the time she saw the CHW ad, she saw an ad to become a Health Coach by obtaining an Integrative Nutrition Health Coaching certificate.

“I decided to get both certificates. It seemed that getting coaching experience along with the CHW skills would give me more opportunities to get my foot in the door at organizations that interested me,” says Claudia.

In the CHW program, she learned about an internship at the Cabrillo College Student Health Services as a Wellness Ambassador.

“It was exactly what I wanted to do in my career – helping people navigate their wellness holistically.”

Claudia got her certificate quickly, and she progressed from the internship to a contract Health Educator and Wellness Coach. The Student Health Center saw the value of the work, so the role of Student Outreach and Wellness Coordinator was created. Claudia applied and got the job.

To people thinking of going through the program, Claudia says “You learn so much and the certificate opens up so many doors to doing something you’ll truly love.”
Kailee W

Kailee W. has a long-standing interest in community health. A woman of color, she grew up in a community with folks who didn’t have good access to health resources, or adequate knowledge of how to use such resources when provided.

“I feel an obligation to spread more awareness about health care and how to take better care of ourselves,” says Kailee.

Toward this goal, Kailee received her undergraduate degree in sociology and critical race and ethnic studies. While useful, much of the information was theoretical.

To gain practical skills, Kailee entered the CHW program. She appreciated learning skills that helps her meet people where they are at and inspire them to make positive changes. She feels more confident in how to talk with the community.

She started at Lyric as a program coordinator providing direct service by facilitating peer groups with queer people. People noted that she was very good at the work, and she credits that to what she learned in the CHW program. And she was promoted to program manager a month ago.

“I want to continue empowering the community to be healthier, happier, and more confident. I plan on always bettering my skills and using these skills to train my team.”
Ana H

Ana Hirsig was already working as a program coordinator for the Day Worker Center in Santa Cruz, advocating for "our Jornalero's and Jornalera's" (day laborers). When she heard that there was a certificate for what she was already doing she said, "let's go get it!"

Now working as a CHW-Health Navigator at Samaritan Health Services in Albany Oregon, Ana gets the opportunity to help patients navigate the health system and with the Social Determinants of Health. She identifies barriers that trigger sickness on her patients and provides them with community resources.

"The program gave me the tools I needed to be more successful in my career. I not only increased my knowledge but got to meet very successful people, all driven to make this world a better place," says Ana.
Yadhira O.

While on the waitlist for the nursing program, Yadhira heard about the CHW certificate program. She thought it would be a great opportunity to get back to studying and to enrich her knowledge.

About the program, she says "It was absolutely amazing. I had wonderful teachers and made beautiful friendships with women from different backgrounds. The emphasis was on working with clients compassionately and with an open mind, so we could refer them to the right resources."

Yadhira appreciated that many of the students had the community experience, especially with agricultural workers, that they brought to the program. She is in the nursing program and currently is doing nursing community outreach. She knows that the classes and experiences she had under the CHW program will come into play.

She's excited for the future, saying "Anything is do-able if you really like it and put all of yourself into it."

Martha currently works for the Center for Community Advocacy as a health promoter with their farm worker community. She also provides supplemental activities for the farm workers and their families which take place after work hours. She is interested in going through the CHW so that she will gain more knowledge and learn other ways to better help her community. Martha has volunteered since she was young and living in Mexico, and now that she is living here she likes being involved and helping her community.

Register for HS130 Intro to Community Health Work to learn about the CHW profession.