Written by: Christina Parisi
Whether she’s studying to earn her master’s degree at UCLA or volunteering her time with Beach Cities Health District (BCHD), Youth Services Intern–Ronnie Kuwahara–has demonstrated a dedication to improving community health.
Native to Honolulu, Hawaii, Ronnie first moved to the mainland to attend the University of San Francisco. Upon graduation, she briefly returned home before pursuing her master’s degree in Public Health, with an emphasis on community health services, from UCLA.
When an alumni mentor mentioned BCHD as a possible place to complete her field study component, she remembered hearing great things from previous students who had interned here. “What drew me was that BCHD was really invested in their community and helping children by setting them up with a foundation to succeed,” explained Ronnie. She soon accepted a Youth Services Internship and got right to work.
Due to her interests in public health and community services, Ronnie fit right in with the BCHD team. Throughout her internship, she has assisted the Youth Services department with many of their programs, including The Walking School Bus, High School Purpose Series, and School Garden Education. Not only has she gained valuable real-world experience, but her contributions ring praise from her Youth Services colleagues. Francis Villalpando, Youth Services School Health Programs Coordinator, explains, “Much of the success of our active transport programs is due to the hundreds of hours Ronnie spent during the summer researching best practices and creating a robust program manual full of innovative resources.”
Though Ronnie has finished her school obligation of 400 hours, she has decided to stay on at BCHD. Spare time may be hard to come by for Ronnie, however when time permits, she can be found exploring Los Angeles through activities such as hiking and trying new restaurants. To those thinking about volunteering, Ronnie recommends BCHD enthusiastically. “The work they do is really important. It’s a good experience and the people there make it even better.”