For over 20 years, Maria González was a devoted stay-at-home mom in the picturesque Southern California town of Sylmar. While raising her son and daughters to believe in themselves and follow their dreams, González also quietly nurtured a dream of her own: to work as a bilingual medical interpreter and advocate for quality care for underserved communities.
Last year, when González’s son, Aurelio González, Jr., tragically passed away at the age of 23, she reflected on what he would have wanted for her. He had always believed she could do anything.
“My son used to tell me ‘Mom, you have so much potential,’” said González. “After he passed, I gathered the courage. I walked away from my fears and barriers.”
Determined to honor her son’s memory, González signed up for medical classes at Los Angeles Mission College last fall. This summer, she took another important step by participating in the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County’s Allied Health Internship Program (AHIP), a workforce initiative funded in part by Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan.
Blue Shield Promise’s funding of AHIP is part of the health plan’s efforts to support career pipelines for people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. As part of the program, interns receive paid, hands-on training to prepare for careers in community health. The funding provided by Blue Shield Promise covered internship stipends and administrative support for participating health centers, making this transformative program possible.
González recently graduated from the internship program, along with 28 other participants. Through AHIP, she gained more than 100 hours of hands-on work experience at the San Fernando Community Health Center. Her work was so exemplary that the health center offered her a permanent job as a medical coder. This fall, she plans to continue her studies at Los Angeles Mission College and aims to graduate in the spring of 2024.
“Blue Shield Promise is thrilled to congratulate the graduates of the Allied Health Internship Program and to recognize the impact of their work,” said Jennifer Schirmer, vice president of Growth and Community Engagement of Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan. “The pipeline for future allied health professionals is critical to helping Californians live longer and happier lives. When our healthcare workforce reflects the communities we serve, it reduces health inequities and can improve health outcomes.”
“We are thrilled to see Ms. González receive a job offer from this internship,” said Louise McCarthy, president and CEO of the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County. “This is precisely the type of experience we want for our interns and the workforce pipeline we’re building with the Allied Health Internship Program. We’re proud of all the graduates and look forward to seeing more program participants continue their careers in community health.”
As González continues her journey, her heart is full of determination to make a difference. Honoring her late son's passion for serving others, she is committed to being an advocate for those who have endured hardship and shaping a brighter future for her community.
“My son’s passion was the underserved community. He volunteered all the time, he helped the homeless, and he was very giving,” González said. “My goal now is to work with the underserved Latino community, providing in-language support. I want to be that voice for them and help them get the medical care they need.”
Learn more about the Allied Health Internship Program at www.ccalac.org.