In the Spotlight: Luis Retta, Health Network Associate
[Editor’s note: Let’s celebrate our Health Network team, the hardworking people who save lives by assuring continuity of care! Health Network is our bridge case management program that provides comprehensive case management, medical records transfer, and follow-up services for mobile patients. Here’s our fourth installment highlighting the Health Network team, with a piece on our Health Network team member, Luis. You can read the first installment featuring Saul Delgado, Health Network Data Specialist, here, and the second post about Alma Colmenero, here, and our third piece on Robert Corona, here. Many thanks to Health Network Intern Monique Vasquez for her work on this series.]
''Luis will make for an incredibly informed medical doctor, the type that won't forget community experiences had while with a place like MCN. Another good guy for our side of the fight.”
– Leslie Diaz, Former Ventanilla de Salud Project Coordinator, Health Network Associate
“Luis finds so much joy in his work. He is willing to take on whatever needs doing and complete it with a smile on his face.”
– Deliana Garcia Director, International Projects and Emerging Issues
Luis Retta, Health Network Associate, first joined MCN as an intern with Health Network, while finishing his final year at the University of Texas. After graduating a year ago with a degree in Human Development and Family Sciences, Luis accepted MCN’s offer to continue working with clients through Health Network and outreach at the Ventanilla de Salud (VDS) in Austin, a program designed to help Mexican nationals living in the US find and access health care services at 55 consulates throughout the United States. Since joining MCN’s staff, Luis has been an instructor for Chemical Safety in the Workplace trainings and has facilitated OSHA certified trainings in the VDS and in community settings. In the last year, he’s attended a national training on mental health for VDS staff in San Diego, he helped put together a major growing project for the Austin community called Binational Health Week which brought over 50 organizations together to provide health services, and he’s bridged his work with the larger MCN staff by engaging in our monthly Emerging Issues meeting.
Luis is from Oak Cliff, Texas, a small neighborhood in the Dallas area with a predominantly low socioeconomic status. He is the first in his family to graduate from college and his goal is to go to medical school in Texas and become a doctor.
He enjoys listening to music, working out and watching movies. His favorite movie is the Godfather.
What’s your superpower?
I like to see the the bright side of everything and the goodness in everyone. I always like to take a minute to put myself in others shoes and try to be as empathetic as possible. I guess in a way I’ll always be optimistic, just seeing the bright side of everything.
What brings you joy?
Helping others. I know it’s super cliché... but really that’s what brings me joy. I’ve really noticed that, especially these last couple years of college and the day of my graduation -- even that day -- it wasn’t really about me, it was more about seeing the smiles on my parents’ faces. Bringing that joy made me happy.
Can you tell me more about that day?
We actually had like 50 people come in from out of town, and 20 people from here in Austin. It was a huge deal for us. We had family from Mexico drive in seven to eight hours to join us, and that’s mainly my dad’s part of the family. He was like a little kid, just a smile on his face the whole day. He’s usually really “old school”, and really machismo and you never really see him smile, he’ll chuckle every now and then, but something about that day…The way my older brother and I saw it and talked about it afterwards is, it was my dad seeing his American dream come true. He came to the states in search of a better future for his children. It was really touching.
What motivates you?
My community and my family. Just being involved, I feel I have a big responsibility to my community to help others just because I’m able to and I’ve been given opportunities. I have the knowledge and the charisma to do these things. It’s kind of like my driving force; I’m able to do these things so I should. And I will help the community and focus on empowering others to do the same.
Is that what brought you to MCN?
Yeah, absolutely. I had interviewed with other programs, and a lot of them were hands-on, and that’s kind of what I was going for at first, because I am aiming to go into medical school after this. But I saw this as a really good opportunity to give back to my community, my own heritage and my own people. I had done that a lot in high school and I had kind of got away from that in college because I was so busy with classes and certain extracurricular activities that just pertained to pre-health or medical school. So this was a really good opportunity, and I thought it would be a great way to end my college career, to get back to exactly what I love doing.
What do you wish that other people knew about MCN?
The program itself. I know a lot of people know about MCN, but just the work we do, the outreach in the community, and the effects and the impact we’ve had in Austin. I think a lot of people know about our work too, but I don’t think they really realize the impact that MCN has had here in Austin and can have globally.
How have you grown or benefited from the work you do at MCN?
Just being able to come in and see what’s impacting our community and our people, I think that’s one of the most beneficial things I’ve gotten from this. Just being able to be involved in the forefront and to just see the immediate impact and how it’s affecting our community.
Is there anything people would be surprised to know about you?
Right now I’m kind of on a weight loss journey. So I’m actually down 110 pounds since I started that journey. So people who don’t know that I’ve been on that might be surprised to find that out. Reflecting on it now it started with wanting to improve my own health and evolved into wanting to improve my own health so that I may be able to improve others.
What do you hope to focus on in medical school?
They have a saying that however you go in, you don’t come out by the end of medical school, the fourth year, I probably will want to do my residency in something else. ... For now it’s either, general surgery or family practice.
It’s always been my dream to open up a clinic back in Dallas, provide quality health care at an affordable cost. Especially in my community, the neighborhood that I grew up in, to take that back home and open up a clinic that people can really rely on. That’s the end goal. Before that, I’ll probably do medical school here in Texas, and my residency I was thinking of moving up North in Chicago or something, I think that’d be pretty cool. And just travel a little bit, since I’m going to be super busy in the coming years!
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