Meet Dr. Stephanie Garcia, a Girls Inc. alumna and emergency medicine doctor currently working on the frontlines of the pandemic and was featured in our Girls Inc. Trailblazers celebration during Women’s History Month in 2021.
What made you decide to study public health and poverty in college?
I was particularly interested in obtaining a vocabulary to describe what I saw growing up in my community of East Oakland but also learning ways to make an impact on communities affected by poverty. Public health allowed me to understand social determinants of health but also provided a great foundation before I entered medical school.
Do you want to share what it has been like for you as an emergency medicine doctor during COVID-19? Have there been any silver linings? What keeps you going?
As an emergency medicine doctor you know that you are on the frontlines and often a safety net for patients who experience a number of traumas as well as mental and physical illnesses. Patients often come to me on their worst day and they do not make appointments to see me. Watching the devastation and number of rapid deaths due to COVID-19 infections amongst patients and colleagues, and people that taught and trained me during residency, was very difficult. The biggest silver lining for the COVID pandemic has been the vaccine and human resolve. The pandemic has really put in perspective what matters.
How or why did you first join Girls Inc.? What is your favorite memory of that time?
I first joined the Girls Inc. Eureka! Program the summer after 7th grade with Girls Inc. of Alameda County. I was in the first Eureka! class, which was a program developed for inner-city girls. That program used sports to attract students but it’s main focus was to increase the number of girls interested in math and science. It was a four-year program and the first two years were held on a college campus whereas the last two years we were afforded an opportunity to shadow a mentor in a field we were interested in.
Why did the Eureka program appeal to you? How did it help you on your path?
The Eureka had phenomenal female role models who were very encouraging. Many were college students of color and that made all the world of difference for me at that time, it impacted me so much that I became the first Girls Inc. alumna to go back and be an instructor for Eureka!.
How critical is mentorship for girls, in your opinion?
Mentorship is so important, most especially for girls and young women who are interested in pursuing careers in fields that have historically been perceived as a male dominated or those with few minorities. Representation matters and everyone needs someone to help guide them. I have had many mentors and continue to mentor those who come after me. Pipeline and retention initiatives are critical if we want a work force and table of leaders representative of the populace.
Words for girls?
Never let anyone tell you what you can’t do, believe in yourself! You have a lot to offer this world.