Naomi Ogaldez is not an ordinary student. The first-year master’s student in health administration already has traveled to Mexico to build houses, to South Africa to volunteer in hospitals and homeless shelters, and she will volunteer in Nicaragua this summer to assist Mayo Clinic College of Medicine on a medical trip.
Locally, Ogaldez is a research assistant and student representative in her master’s program, and she volunteers for the Anne Douglas Center for Women at the Los Angeles Mission, the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission and California State University, Northridge’s Project D.A.T.E. (Discovering Alternatives for Today’s Encounters), a rape-prevention peer education organization.
“Naomi is an exceptionally hard worker — she’s passionate about being the voice for the voiceless and is not afraid to speak up if she perceives that an injustice is taking place,” said Frankie Augustin, professor in the Department of Health Sciences. “The healthcare management field is in desperate need for someone like her.”
To recognize Ogaldez for her charitable contributions in the local community and around the world, Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) Latina honored her with the Future History Maker Award 2016. The nonprofit organization has been supporting Latina leadership in political and economic positions since 1989.
“Awards like the HOPE Future History Maker Award are important because it puts people like Naomi in the forefront, so that all other Latinas, as well as other students of color, can witness an example of how someone made a difference in their community,” Augustin said.
“It feels nice to be recognized,” Ogaldez said. “I feel so honored that all my work is paying off.”
The ambitious student received her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2015 from CSUN and decided to pursue a master’s in health administration after working in an internship at the CNN medical unit in Atlanta three years ago.
“That opened my eyes to the healthcare world,” Ogaldez said. “I really liked reporting on medical and health content. After that, I started writing more articles about Latinos and the health sector for El Nuevo Sol, CSUN’s online bilingual newspaper.”
Ogaldez, who also has a minor in Spanish-language journalism, said she wanted to improve her communication skills and understanding of the health sector to cross the boundaries she faced during her internships. Ogaldez said she didn’t have any health or science background, which caused some frustrating experiences while working with health professionals as an intern at CNN’s medical unit and at Mayo Clinic’s public affairs unit in Rochester, Minn..
“CSUN provided me with journalistic skills, tools and essentials. From there I’ve been able to obtain prestigious internships and sharpened my skills,” she said. “Now, I’m learning the business, the science and clinical aspects of healthcare through my master’s program, which is really helpful.”
Ogaldez said she aspires to become a public relations professional in the health sector and hopes to see more Latina women in management positions, especially in the areas of healthcare and journalism.
“If you don’t have writers, reporters or people in medicine that are aware of the culture, language and the diseases, it’s hard for someone else from another ethnicity to cater to them, unless they take classes and are culturally competent of the Hispanic community,” she said.
In addition to Ogaldez’s crammed schedule, she started a mentoring program for Latino journalism students through the California Chicano News Media Association in 2013 to support future journalism professionals.
“We pair up Hispanic journalists with students, so they can see that there are successful Hispanics in journalism and management positions,” Ogaldez said. “I don’t have time for myself sometimes, but I make it work. I love what I do and still have fun.”