Next Generation Shines in the UCLA Labor Center Summer Intern Program at UNAC/UHCP

September 2014

UNAC/UHCP’s intern program, now in its third year, continues to flourish. This summer the union was fortunate to have four very bright young women from the UCLA Labor Center work with us on behalf of nurses and other health care professionals.

Lucero Aguiñiga, Nikki Narvasa, Melissa Avila, and Denisse Lopez proved tenacious as they helped the union’s research, organizing, representation, and communication departments prepare for and carry out the strike at Parkview Community Hospital in July. When asked what she learned from that experience Narvasa recognized that “it takes a lot of planning and hard work to be successful.”

To all nurses and health care professionals Aguiñiga gives a hearty kudos! She has experience working with low-wage earners and now her work at UNAC/UHCP has made clear to her that the fight for respect and fairness in the workplace is common to all workers regardless of background or profession. “Nursing can be a risky job,” she says. Before her opportunity to work with UNAC/UHCP, Lopez says that she “didn’t know that nurses were unionized,” and now she understands the pivotal role that nurses have in delivering patient care. “If it takes a long time to complete a medical appointment then maybe that’s due to staffing issues,” she says.

“There are so many different classifications of health care professionals,” says Avila. She will carry forward the spirit of service that is inherent in the heart of all caregivers as she begins the next stage of her career. She sees herself becoming an educator in a university setting or working in the private sector to ensure those with financial need will have access to mental health services.

UNAC/UHCP’s summer interns are, we believe, poised to make positive change in the world. They possess the vision and passion to make the lives of others better and we wish each of them the best of luck as they continue to learn and to become ever stronger advocates for justice.