Cassandra Balderas’ most defining moment at UM-Dearborn actually happened hundreds of miles away during an Alternative Spring Break trip in West Virginia.
“It was about working with a different community and learning their customs, their issues and what makes their community unique," she said. "Starting at the beginning of the week and only having the foundation set and ending the week with four walls and a roof was extremely gratifying and also, in a way, life changing.”
Cassandra also participated on Alternative Spring Break trips to Indiana, Florida and Tennessee, focusing on environmental preservation and improving access to affordable and sustainable housing. Each time she has returned back to Michigan with new ideas to make a change in the metro Detroit community, building upon skills learned through the university's health policies program.
“Completing a major in health policy studies has also allowed me to really focus on the huge issue of inaccessibility to care for many people,” she said.
Cassandra hopes to continue to set foundations for new public health initiatives through her position at Community Health and Social Services (CHASS) Center in southwest Detroit, where she works as a program assistant.
On campus, she has served as president for Phi Delta Epsilon medical fraternity and as a student mentor for the health policy studies senior seminar course.
“She shows tremendous potential as a researcher and a practitioner in the field of public health,” said Paul Draus, assistant professor of sociology.
Cassandra wants to continue to build on her skills, working on creating food accessibility to create healthier communities.
“I know that whatever career I choose, it is important for me to give back to my community,” she said.