Cultivating Community at La Clínica

By Malyna Trujillo

Malyna Trujillo is a rising sophomore at The George Washington University majoring in political science with a minor in law and society. She is a Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute Scholar and a 2024 Comunicadores for the Future intern.

“Ningún ser humano es ilegal,” “you belong” and “Salud sin Barreras” are statements that cover the vibrant walls of La Clínica del Pueblo, fostering a welcoming environment for their patients. As a nonprofit organization, La Clínica provides clinical, mental health and language access services to the Latin American community in DC — especially survivors of domestic violence and Spanish speakers.

I am thrilled to be working with La Clínica this summer; working 9 to 5 in their office has opened my eyes to the real impact of my work and that of my colleagues.

Last week, BBC reporter Mike Lanchin visited La Clínica to highlight our work in BBC’s upcoming documentary, “Indocumentados.” As I guided him around our two locations and facilitated his interviews, one story stood out in particular: Maria Cortez, a medical assistant at La Clínica, first arrived as a pregnant patient in need of prenatal care and felt immediately connected to our mission and values. After being inspired by La Clínica’s excellent treatment, support for women’s health and language interpretation and navigation services, Maria knew she wanted to work here. Today, her personal experience serves as a strength in her career; she uses it as motivation to treat patients with stories similar to hers. After six years of perseverance and hard work, Maria just became a registered nurse and continues to contribute her compassion and support to our community.

After hearing Maria recount her experiences, I realized how many lives La Clínica has impacted, which has motivated me even more in my work. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to attend meetings, share my ideas, give feedback and offer suggestions to our team and leadership. As the youngest person in the room, my input is valued and I’m treated as an equal colleague.

It has been exciting to learn from my supervisor, La Clínica’s Communications Director Paola Luisi, who has shared her experience working on Capitol Hill and presidential campaigns. Working with her has created a bridge between my work at La Clínica and my passion for social justice, which has provided me with skills for a future career in politics and a strong foundation in communications. It has been especially meaningful to receive advice and mentorship from a woman of color in politics who shares my goals and interests.

Comunicadores and GW alumni Mariela Cabanillas and Edwin Vela have also welcomed me with open arms; they both started working at La Clínica full time after graduation. This full-circle experience makes me so grateful for the generational support throughout my internship. Like Mariela and Edwin, I also hope to pass on advice and knowledge to future generations of Comunicadores.

Thanks to the support from all the individuals and organizations who have come together to create this program, I feel empowered and confident to take on future positions with my experience at La Clínica beside me every step of the way.