“I was born in the Philippines. I’m one of four children. My parents immigrated to the United States to pursue the American Dream.
“We moved to Seattle, Washington, when I was 12 years old. Those first few years in the U.S. were some of the most formative years of my life. Within a couple of years of moving here, my older sister was in a tragic car accident. She was 22 when she passed away. I was probably 17.
“I got a really brusque view of how finite our time here in this world is; I also realized that I really wanted to make sure to live a life that would make my sister proud. … We ended up staying in the hospital for a week while my sister was in the ICU. My parents were new immigrants, and I saw how much the healthcare system becomes an instrumental part of people’s lives. It led me to pursue a career of service.
“I was a clinical social worker in the Veteran Affairs system, helping those who may be coming back from war and service. I also pursued a graduate degree in healthcare policy and management at NYU in New York City. … Dallas-Fort Worth is one of the top markets in terms of healthcare costs. Many of the reasons why we have the challenges we have is that we have not really embraced how we support communities of color.
“Texas has one of the highest uninsured rates in the country. So, when I’m designing strategies to expand access to healthcare, I’m thinking about my parents. I’m always reminding myself, ‘How do I create programs that better suit families like my own?’”