Fellow: Michelle Tabajonda
Michelle Tabajonda is the Public Policy Fellow at TruEvolution. In 2018, she received her Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience from UC Riverside. Her hometown is Palmdale, California. Michelle’s interests include hiking and photography. She plans on pursuing further education in public health and continuing to work in community health.
What are you looking forward to working on as a UCR CSI IE Nonprofit Fellow?
I am looking forward to giving back to my communities through the nonprofit I was matched with. TruEvolution has been doing wonderful work for the LGBTQ+ community, people living with HIV, and youth. They address health inequities through education and prevention as well as treatment, which is something I have been passionate about all throughout college. I am looking forward to contributing to this work, specifically addressing health disparities through public policy and advocacy.
What drew you to the UCR CSI IE Nonprofit Fellowship?
I was actively involved in the Inland Empire during my undergraduate education and it had become a home to me, fostering my passion to serve the marginalized populations here. There is a lot of unmet need here and I wanted to continue social justice work here even after college. This fellowship was an opportunity to do so while learning from great leaders in the nonprofit sector and in public policy.
What are you looking forward to learning about the nonprofit sector in the IE? What do you think are the most pressing needs in the region for nonprofit organizations?
I am interested in learning how nonprofits operate, especially within an area that is underserved and underfunded such as the Inland Empire. I think one of the most pressing needs for nonprofit organizations in this region is gathering and maintaining support to do the important work that we do. Other needs would include addressing social determinants such as housing, transportation, food security, and other basic needs.
What is a little-known gem about the Inland Empire that you could share with others? What would you share about the Inland Empire with those not familiar or know little about the region?
The Inland Empire is on Native land, originally belonging to the Tongva, Serrano, and Cahuilla tribes. One of the first Navel orange trees in California was planted here in Riverside. The California Citrus State Historic Park is here in Riverside, where you can hike and try the fruit.
Where do you envision yourself in 5 years? What are your future career plans after this Fellowship?
In 5 years, I plan to have my Master’s in Public Health. Some areas within public health that interest me include community health, health education, social and behavioral determinants of health, and health policy. After this fellowship, I plan to continue working in community health and advocating for health equity.