When Valeria Galarza learned about the Project Manager position at NJPHK-Camden, she felt it could have been created for her. It was the opportunity she had been hoping for, allowing her to combine her background in community and public health with her interest in public policy and work with the community of her adopted hometown of Camden, where her husband Eddie grew up.
She joined NJPHK-Camden in October 2010 and jumped into the work with unbounded enthusiasm. The chance to change policy in her community is Galarza’s passion.
“Policy is the foundation for change,” Galarza said. “Many major accomplishments can be traced back to a policy.” One of the biggest challenges we face in reversing the childhood obesity epidemic, is that many of our policies stand in the way of healthier choices—kids don’t have safe places to walk, bike, or play outside and it’s often cheaper and more convenient for families to buy fast food than fresh, nutritious foods. We need to change those policies so they actually give kids and families more opportunities to eat well and be active.”
Galarza formed an early interest in health and science ignited by mother, a medical assistant, and her grammar school science teacher. “I didn’t want to be a doctor or nurse; I wanted to do something different, but wasn’t sure what it was.” When she took a public health introduction course her junior year in college, she found her place. Galarza went on to earn a Bachelor degree in Public Health from Rutgers University followed by a Masters in Health Education, with a concentration in Community Health, from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA.
Reflecting on her work to date, Galarza considers the community’s engagement as a major achievement. “I am proud of how involved and excited the Camden community has been. Something as basic as preventing childhood obesity connects everyone in such a way that attention can be drawn to it. It’s very powerful.”SHARE: