Pacific student works to educate community on living a healthy lifestyle
From an early age, the parents of Cassia Arias ’21 instilled a spirit of community building in her, which indirectly led her to attend University of the Pacific.
“Part of the reason I chose to attend Pacific was it provided me with the opportunity to invest in my hometown of Stockton,” explained Arias. “I believe it’s my civic duty to know my community and not turn a blind eye when one of my brothers or sisters is in need.”
It is this commitment to her community that led Arias to be one of 10 Pacific students to combine their college educations with community service as part of the California Civic Action Program this fall.
The statewide program is funded by $3.2 million in state and federal funds, with an additional $667,000 in scholarship funds awarded to students after they complete the fellowship. It also expands Pacific’s longstanding commitment to community service while giving the 10 students—and 10 more to join in the second year of the program—immersive opportunities to serve Stockton’s vulnerable populations.
Arias has been working the last few months at El Concilio in Stockton. El Concilio aims to empower diverse communities in California’s Central Valley to help people realize their greatest potential by offering critically needed comprehensive and compassionate programs and services that provide outreach, education, counseling, job training, classes, as well as awareness of their personal strengths and abilities, and the knowledge of resources available to them.
"I am so happy to have been assigned to El Concilio because it helped me get to know and meet the needs of my community better," said Arias.
At El Concilio, Arias has been creating a series of videos that educate families on ways to live a healthier lifestyle. The videos provide viewers with healthy recipes, tips for grocery shopping, ways to exercise during the pandemic, budgeting and gardening.
“I’ve loved creating these videos,” said Arias. “I even had my family participate in the most recent video we recorded.”
Community members not only can watch the videos online, but to make them more accessible the program plays the videos in their medical transportation vehicles as they provide transportation to health care appointments within the city of Stockton.
"We have been trying to think outside the box to find ways to educate local families on how to live a healthy lifestyle,” said Arias. "Many of the families we work with need extraordinary solutions to change their situations, so it's an opportunity for us to think creatively to help."
Arias credits Dari Tran, professor of political science, who has worked with community partners to craft the service projects for the fellows with developing this mindset.
“Professor Tran has really supported me and all of the fellows this fall,” said Arias. “We have all been so supportive of each other during this time, which has made our work an even more valuable experience.”