For Marcia Gomez ’79, M.D., working as senior advisor on migrant health at the Office of Minority and Special Populations in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is a natural fit. Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Gomez has a deeply personal connection to and passion for her work.
A Spanish major with an avid interest in medicine while at Colby, Gomez worked for three years with the Department of Health in New York City in special services for childen. She then went to medical school abroad, with her last two years of rotations in Chicago. After medical school, she did research at the University of Illinois-Chicago, and did work connecting refugee and immigrant families with medical services in Chicago.
Much of Gomez’s research centered on disenfranchised communities with medically disadvantaged populations, including those at high risk for AIDS, especially among ethnic minorities. Her subsequent work in the HIV/AIDS bureau of the federal Health Resources and Services Administration made her responsible for funds and programs providing services to AIDS patients nationwide, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. She also provided training and technical assistance internationally.
In her present position, Gomez now oversees funding used for research and direct health-care aid to refugees and to migrant and seasonal workers. Her guidance and recommendations provide assistance to disenfranchised communities throughout the United States that are suffering from poor health care or no health care.
“I am giving back to my communities that I grew up in,” said Gomez. “I’m giving back the best way I can, through care and support.” She says her personal connection to the communities she works with makes her job all the more fulfilling.
Gomez says Colby is one community for which she is particularly thankful. She was pleasantly surprised during a recent visit to campus by the tremendous growth Colby has seen in recent years, she said. As a student of color while at Colby, Gomez is especially impressed by the College’s efforts to attract more students from underrepresented groups. “The programs and experiences offered at Colby, now even more than before, will prepare students for tremendous futures,” Gomez said.
“I have a passion for the work I am doing, and it’s exciting even to just talk about,” she said. This passion, she says, is imperative in life and work. “Life does not go from A to B, but if you take every opportunity you are given, learn from it, and do well by it, the transition will be much more valuable.”
—Alexandra Desaulniers ’11