schmooze profile: Vianey Olivarria

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Name: Vianey (as in DNA but with a V) Olivarria

Hometown: Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.

Favorite Arizona place: Jerome, and Urban Beans.

Favorite drink: Chocolate Iced Chai Latte.

Favorite local project: The Baby Box project! Mountain Park Health Center, the awesome organization I work for, started this project back in December. We’re giving every single of our pregnant patients a safe space for their child, with a box that includes a mattress and products such as clothing, blankets, healthcare kits, and so much more for their babies. It’s incredibly special because in talking to our mothers, so many of them have expressed how helpful the Baby Box has been, and how needed all of the products are – things that so often many people just can’t afford. We’re also connecting them to affordable, quality healthcare services at their closest clinics. It’s awesome!  

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THIS or THAT:

Coffee or lunch dates? Un cafecito is always welcomed. 

What was your first real job? Writing Tutor at ASU, fork ‘em devils!

How do you describe the work you do? We work for the community, and in everything I do, I’m always looking for the impact it’ll have in our people. I get motivated when I talk to our patients, and they tell me how their life changed with access to holistic healthcare, because that’s not easily available in so many places in Arizona, let alone in the entire world. Healthcare is a human right, and the fact that people are often unable to receive it is appalling.

I also volunteer in various issue-based campaigns, translate for volunteer Pro-Bono lawyers to provide free legal advice to our patients, and actively advocate for basic human rights, such as healthcare, immigration, and women’s reproductive rights. To me, my volunteer work is essential; it feeds my heart and soul to meet and work with so many inspiring leaders, but I also consider it a responsibility. I’m privileged in so many ways, and I’ve had so many mentors guide me on my path, that it’s my responsibility to give back and fight so my family, my friends, y mi comunidad is treated with dignity and equity.

What activity do you consistently make time to do, or at least try to? I mentor a young lady who’s amazing, so I always try to make sure we have time to go out and talk. My family is so very important to me; I go out with my little sisters and I try to always call my mama and papa in Mexico to check up on them. And I read, a lot, it calms me down and gives me motivation to keep on going.

What advice do you have for your younger self? Trust your gut and continue being a “mula”. That’s what my dad calls me, it means stubborn, or at its best tenacious.  A weakness and a strength if you must, but it gets you far.

What direction would you like your life to take from here? I want to see results. I think that’s what everyone who works in nonprofits, volunteers, or works for the community through grassroots organizing wants. I demand to see results from our elected officials, who are there solely to represent us. I’d like my life to take me where I can see the results of our combined work and where I can see the positive impact we can have in our communities. I’m getting ready for Law School, so I’m taking my life towards becoming a Civil Rights lawyer and advocate.

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