Hispanic Heritage Month: A health connection with families
Rosa Guerrero, a nursing supervisor in Health Services, one of the district’s leaders in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. A Dallas native, Guerrero is also a Skyline High School graduate and the daughter of district retirees. Early in life, her parents were migrant workers from South Texas who worked the fields picking different crops based on the season. Her mother became an assistant principal at Skyline High School and her father was a principal at Ignacio Zaragoza Elementary School.
What is something you everyone to know about you:
I attended Edna Rowe Elementary School and I am a proud graduate of Skyline High School where I was enrolled in the Cosmetology Cluster. I worked as a hair stylist after I graduated from high school.
My mother was a Ballet Folklorico instructor at North Dallas High School in the mid to late ’90s. I would also perform with her students during some events. My father was a Vietnam veteran and is buried at the Dallas Fort Worth National Cemetery.
What is something you want everyone to know about your heritage:
I would like everyone to know that my heritage is rich in cultural rituals. For example, my heritage honors our loved ones that have passed away by creating altars that honor them. We honor them during El Día de los Muertos on Nov. 1.
My heritage is also celebrated by cultural dance such as Ballet Folklorico and cultural music such as mariachi. Lastly, cultural foods feed the soul and make me feel connected to my heritage.
What parts of your heritage are most important to you?
The parts of my heritage that are most important to me are family connections and cultural rituals. Family is what makes me who I am today.
How does your heritage inform how you approach health concerns with students and parents who have your same background?
Understanding my heritage helps me connect with students and their parents significantly. I am able to understand what health conditions plague our community such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and heart conditions. Our diet is high in cholesterol, sodium and sugars, which predisposes us to those conditions. Being able to educate parents on how they may continue to cook cultural foods but may considers cutting down on serving sizes.
My heritage also places a focus on homeopathic remedies such as hot teas and essential oils. We believe in a hot-cold balance and an imbalance of either results in illness. Being able to understand and relate to parents and students assists me to better educate and provide resources that can help combine both modern and cultural remedies.
And how do you personally contribute to the success of students and the district, keeping in mind the skills and knowledge your background gives you?
I personally contribute to the success of the students and the district by ensuring students are healthy to attend school. I also ensure all health barriers are removed so families feel confident that their scholar is receiving medical services at school when needed.
How does your background and heritage help make Dallas ISD a more inclusive district for staff, students and the community?
I am able to better communicate with families and ensure they feel welcomed when arriving to Dallas ISD events, campuses or buildings. When families see individuals who are similar to them, it helps them feel welcomed and at home.
If you are bilingual, how do you relate to people in either language, and is language one of the things that helps you connect to your heritage?
I am bilingual although Spanish is my second language. I grew up speaking English and learned Spanish along the way. Being able to communicate in both languages is essential to ensure families remain informed. I have been selected to participate in media interviews with multiple Spanish news outlets in Dallas. Most media requests are related to back-to-school vaccinations, flu education and most recently COVID updates.
Language is one thing that helps me connect to my heritage. I feel like part of a bigger family when I am able to communicate with others in Spanish.
As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, what is the most important thing people should know about our culture?
Our culture is resilient and hopeful, and we are stronger together. When we realize that we are part of a bigger picture, we will then realize that we can face adversity and be successful. We must be knowledgeable of our culture and our history so that we won’t forget the fight and sacrifice others may have had to make in order for us to be here right now. It’s important for our children and scholars to see us as role models and to remember that if they can see us, they can be us! Si se puede!