trevino '17
Distinguished Alumni



Tiffany Trevino '17: Thankful to Serve 

by Elaine Barnes

Coordinator, Alumni and Donor Communications


"The people I work with are a marginalized group with stories you wouldn’t believe. It’s a really special experience to be a person of trust for them."

A week before freshman orientation at Baylor University, Tiffany Trevino ’17 decided to withdraw from the university and enroll at Texas A&M University-Kingsville – a pivotal moment in her life she insists was “the best decision [she] ever made.” Now, post-graduation and immersed in her career as a public health worker, Trevino encourages others to pursue their academic journey at Texas A&M-Kingsville.


Trevino described initially having her sights set on becoming a physician, with an ultimate goal of being accepted into the Doctors Without Borders program. It was during a study abroad in New Zealand, learning of the intersection of politics and health, that her interest in Public Health began.


“When I graduated from Texas A&M-Kingsville, I took a semester off in order to start the academic year in New Zealand at the University of Otago,” she stated. “That was in 2017, and unfortunately, Hurricane Harvey hit. But fortunately, in that sense, I was offered a position with a non-profit where I was helping with distributing donated goods around the area. It was noticed that I was really good at working with people, and I was offered a position as a disaster relief specialist.” It was experience working with a non-profit, coupled with her study abroad experience in New Zealand, that shifted her career path.


These opportunities solidified Trevino’s desire of serving others as a pillar she wished to build her career upon. She carried this knowledge with her as she wrapped up her position with Hurricane Harvey relief and continued her own Public Health education in New Zealand. However, Trevino returned home earlier than anticipated, placing her Master’s on hold to care for her ill grandfather through his passing.


With COVID-19 restrictions now in place, she is waiting for the opportunity to return to the country as a Rotary Foundation Global Grant Scholar to complete her studies.


Until then, Trevino has accepted a position for the West Oakland Health Council in the San Francisco Bay area. “I’m a care coordinator and community health worker with a panel of physicians that I work directly with,” she explained. “I handle different case-loads of patients. The doctors do the medical side of things – give diagnoses – but what I assess are the social determinants of health. It could be transportation, education level, food insecurities – all things that are not necessarily biological but certainly impact someone’s health outcome.”


By analyzing these unique factors, Trevino is able to work alongside her patients’ providers to set health goals and to effectively close any health gaps. “The people I work with are a marginalized group with stories you wouldn’t believe. It’s a really special experience to be a person of trust for them. It’s a very humbling experience as well,” she insisted.


The pandemic has undoubtedly presented challenges in Trevino’s work, but she strives to still be a supportive resource for her patients, despite the inability to meet with one another face-to-face. “It’s really hard for me to provide support and guidance to patients and still not be enough for them to have the outcome they want,” Trevino divulged. “That’s so challenging, when you’re told this one thing about how life is- that’s not how it is for a lot of people. The reality is, hardships are multi-faceted, and working with people who have to work through those hardships can be challenging.”


Thankfully, Trevino acts as a voice of reason and sparks a sense of hope for many of her patients, which she asserts is the most rewarding attribute of her career. “When somebody comes to me, I tell them honestly that I can’t fix all of their problems and that it’s usually in their own hands. But I tell them I can get them on the right step,” she explained. “And when you give people autonomy over their own lives, in that sense, they have control again, and they have the ability to make an actual change in their life.”


Trevino draws upon her personal life experiences relating to the challenges her patients fight to overcome. “My dad was an immigrant from Mexico, and the resources available to him in those days didn’t set him up for success in a modern day life,” she explained. “And I’m a first-generation student, as nobody in my family had ever gone to school. So, it was a lot of figuring things out on my own. Everything from the college application process to financial aid … but TAMUK was excellent in providing guidance for students who were just like me.”


“It’s hard to verbalize exactly what it means to me to be a Javelina,” Trevino concluded. “Javelinas are part of a pack, and we’re a community that takes pride in our mission statement – which includes enrichment through education and service. And at the heart of it all, we share core values – two of my favorites being integrity and service.”