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Meet Karla Horgan Arévalo

The health-career navigator is building on her humanities background to expose students to new professional paths.

By Cory Phare, Siet Wright

April 7, 2020

Karla Horgan ArevaloMetropolitan State University of Denver’s Health Institute was established to address Colorado’s changing workforce and health-equity needs. However, deciding what type of health career to pursue can be a challenge for Roadrunners. The field is much broader than traditional physician and nursing roles, encompassing a wide variety of allied-health and nonmedical positions.

This semester, the Early Bird is profiling each of the Health Institute’s health-career navigators to learn more about how they help students succeed through the support of the Health Career Opportunities Program and DACA/Undocumented Student Health Careers Opportunity Program scholarships.

Health-career navigator Karla Horgan Arévalo is a first-generation student who came to the U.S. from Guatemala when she was 5 years old. Health wasn’t initially on her professional radar, but her zigzaggy path helps her connect with the students she serves.

Q: What drew you to the MSU Denver student population?

A: I graduated from a college in northwest Iowa with my bachelor’s in humanities and minor in psychology. I wanted to work with people who look like me and give back to my community. When I worked for KIPP Colorado Schools, I began working with first-generation students and wanted to support them in understanding the resources available in higher education. I also have a passion for supporting students who may not have the same privileges I’ve had. I wanted to support students who don’t have the same legal status, so they know they have someone in their corner.

Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in the health field?

A: For me, the humanities have always been a lens I use in doing social-justice work. There is so much beauty in our human differences, and the humanities are a tool we can use to feel connected to others – through words, images and art. I believe we all have healing and growing to do, which is what drew me to the mental-health industry for the next chapter of my career. I’m now pursuing a master’s degree in counseling with a focus on clinical mental health at the University of Colorado Denver.

In my role as a health-career navigator, I get to support students in thinking about the health inequities impacting their own community. We give students ways to engage in health dialogue, and they do research projects on health disparities, coming at the subject from their majors in biology, psychology, integrated health – and that informs them on how change happens.

Q: What are health scholars, and what resources are available to them?

A: The Health Institute is offering support opportunities for students interested in health-related fields. The Health Careers Opportunity Program is a scholarship program for MSU Denver students interested in entering health and behavioral-health fields. Students can also apply for the similar DACA/Undocumented Student Health Careers Opportunity Program (DUHOP). Applications for DUHOP close April 21.

Q: Why do you enjoy working at MSU Denver?

A: MSU Denver is a beautifully diverse community. It feels exciting to be here and work with a program that is making a difference. MSU is impacting students in ways we don’t even fully understand yet, supporting them in finding their voice and helping students feel empowered to make changes on campus and beyond.

Topics: Health, Health Institute, Hello, My Name Is

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