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Health Science Graduate Wins University Award for Exceptional Community Engagement

For a shining example of the College of Health and Human Development’s adeptness in cultivating leaders committed to addressing community concerns, look no further than recent Health Science graduate Jocelyn Pineda.

With only 120 service hours left to complete her undergraduate studies, Pineda signed up to a year-long internship at the CSUF Center for Healthy Neighborhoods. Pineda’s initiative and impressive bilingual abilities, sharpened in HHD’s Spanish for Health and Human Services certification course, helped her quickly ascend to leadership roles in two critical Center programs.

She also soared to the top of this year’s Center for Internships and Community Engagement’s list of accomplished students, earning the 2018 Extraordinary Acts of Service Award.

“My internship at the Center has helped me better understand the importance of intervention and preventative programs,” says Pineda. “Receiving the Extraordinary Acts of Service Award is an honor but it doesn’t feel like I’ve done anything extraordinary. For me, empowering communities is what I want to do and something that I’m happy and glad to do.”

Center Director Dr. Jessie Jones oversees Pineda’s work at the Center.

“In my 35 years of supervising students at various Centers and Institutes, Jocelyn stands out as one of the best I’ve had the opportunity to work with. Her efforts and ability to establish trust among the Center’s vulnerable community members should be greatly applauded,” says Jones.

Low-income, linguistically isolated communities experience high rates of preventable emergency room visits. Cultural norms, lack of awareness, poor health literacy, affordability, and a sense of distrust spurred by today’s political climate keep many families from seeking timely medical care.The Center’s Latino/Latina Neighborhood Health Advocates (NHA) program aims to increase access to healthcare and social services for local Spanish-speaking families by training residents in health promotion and connecting them with other community members.

Pineda is one of four interns who administers the NHA program. She helps set meeting agendas, supervises community members working as health advocates, and translates health questionnaires using terminology and culturally appropriate expressions she learned in HHD’s Spanish for Health and Human Services certification program.

Smart Brain, Wise HeartShe’s taken on a similar leadership role for a program helping at-risk youth.

Designed for 9 to 16 year olds, the Center’s Smart Brain, Wise Heart program improves focus, motivation, and decision-making by teaching self-regulation skills and stress management techniques. As the program’s lead instructor, Pineda guides each biweekly session and tracks student progress. Dr. Jones credits her organizational and bilingual skills for doubling program demand in less than a year.

“The Smart Brain, Wise Heart program is making a real impact on students and families. Students in our program are dealing with a lot. They tell us that they feel better able to take on the day after coming to our sessions. We’ve seen improvements in their grades as well,” says Pineda.

Opened in January 2016, the CSUF Center for Healthy Neighborhoods provides free health and social services to approximately 1,000 local residents per month. The Center’s NHA program is funded by a grant from Kaiser Permanente.

The Center for Internships and Community Engagement’s (CICE) annual awards ceremony recognizes students, faculty, and community partners whose leadership and service enrich the community. Pineda is the fifth consecutive HHD student to win a CICE honor since 2014.