Chamara Fernando

"I wanted to gain an understanding of how healthcare and medical services were being utilized and how accessible it was to people who needed it the most."

Educational Background: UNC - Chapel Hill

Host Site: Patient Advocate at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health- Ambulatory Health Services, Health Center 6

Why did you join National Health Corps?
I wanted to gain an understanding of how healthcare and medical services were being utilized and how accessible it was to people who needed it the most. I hope to be able to delve into public health and understand how it operates and serves on a macro and micro level within a large metropolitan area such as Philly.

What are your plans after AmeriCorps service?
I hope to enroll in Med School and pursue a career in Cardiology.

Tell us about an employment, service, or research experience that was important to you.
Working with the Los Caballeros After School mentoring program throughout my 4 years in college was very important to me. It provided myself and my team the opportunity to serve as role models for Latino kids ages 12-15 that really did not have any in their lives, much less someone who they could simply talk to about their everyday struggles.

What first sparked your interest in community service?
When I was young, I was taught the value of giving back to your community, whether it was helping out one person or an entire group of people. Starting in the 4th grade, my brother and I founded a Thanksgiving Basket Project in our community that helped raise food and donations to families who couldn't otherwise afford a traditional Thanksgiving meal. It was when I realized how much I enjoyed actually meeting the people we would help in person that I began to understand my appreciation and love for community service.

What about Philadelphia excites you the most?
Just the historic and rich tradition combined with the movement and fast-pace of a large city! Having lived in North Carolina my whole life, this will be my first time in a true metropolis!

What is your favorite food?
Philly Cheesesteaks...just kidding, it'd have to be a solid 3-cheese Lasagna

Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina