Growing up, Lucero Chena practically lived at St. James Church in Searcy along with her parents and two siblings. At a young age, she was attending parish events and eventually began interpreting and translating.
“So when one of the cases I had to do was help at a doctor's office, that is kind of what got me into medicine and then eventually neurology,” the 19-year-old said.
A sophomore at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, she’s majoring in neuroscience and minoring in Latino studies and health, humanities and societies, with plans to become a doctor.
“My hope is to focus on the immigrant population in terms of health care and stuff like that,” she said. “Love, love, love the nervous system and the brain.”
Her summer work combined her passions: an online internship with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and a store clerk for Ritter Farms in Judsonia interpreting for migrant workers.
Chena has been active in her parish for years, including as youth director the past two years.
“My faith was built on that so I wanted to help in some way,” she said.
She also has been active in diocesan youth ministry.
“I grew both individually, like learning more about my faith, having a stronger prayer life, but then also having a stronger support group, which was something I didn't have for most of my preteen years,” she said.
Chena said her devotion to youth ministry is a way to keep the faith alive.
“My family’s always like, ‘You receive something so you have to pay it forward,’” she said. “You can't just have this wonderful gift and not do anything with it. You have to continue it in some way or pass it down.”
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