Chrystel Murrieta is a 2014 Bruin alumnus who lets her passion for service drive her every day. During the summer before college, Chrystel began serving with ADVANCE! Onto College, a counseling organization that helped her learn about the college application process, scholarships, and financial aid. She was motivated to help other first generation students pursue higher education after seeing the direct impact the ADVANCE! program had on her journey.
Once she reached UCLA, Chrystel became involved with LEAP (Leadership and Educational Advancement Program), an after-school mentorship organization that provides academic and self-esteem programs to elementary students. Chrystel was able to further her passion for service by joining other service-oriented organizations, such as the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). As the Outreach Coordinator for SACNAS, a student-run organization that focuses on increasing diversity within STEM fields, Chrystel organized outreach volunteer events and health workshops for high school students in the area.
In her sophomore year, Chrystel also joined Lambda Theta Nu Sorority, Incorporated, as the sorority’s philanthropy for Latino literacy and education also complemented her passion for education equity. She enthusiastically participated in Lambda Theta Nu’s Reading to Kids, Annual Latino Literacy Week, and the sorority’s Latina Youth Leadership Conference, which provides over 400 female high school students an opportunity to visit UCLA and gain information on the college application process, financial aid, and professional and personal development. At the conference, Chrystel hosted a workshop on self-esteem to help these young women love themselves and ease the pressure from outside sources.
She also volunteered with Care Extenders, where Chrystel gained hands-on clinical experience within the surgical, oncology, pediatrics, and labor and delivery departments at the UCLA hospitals. This experience taught her that it is truly important to work together in every level of leadership to achieve success.
Chrystel’s longest running service experience during her time at UCLA was with Dr. Jacqueline Casillas at the UCLA LIVESTRONG Survivorship Center of Excellence, where she volunteered for four years. She helped create cancer survivor support video campaigns, developed a foto novela to help survivors tell their stories, and built strong relationships with cancer survivors and the community.
In addition, Chrystel was highly involved with the UCLA Volunteer Center, serving all four years during Volunteer Day and at several One Bus, One Cause events. After participating in her first Volunteer Day, she was inspired to become a Service Liaison to encourage other first year students to become civically engaged.
Chrystel graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish Community & Culture Major, a major intrinsically tied to service. Being part of this major allowed her to network and serve with organizations like the Pico Youth & Family Center and the Venice Family Clinic. After finishing up at UCLA, she wanted to continue serving the community in a tangible way by joining a program within the health field that would complement her passion for service and support her professional development. With those goals, Chrystel ultimately became part of Community HealthCorps under AltaMed Health Services; its mission supported her passion to eliminate health disparities within underserved communities.
As a part of AltaMed, Chrystel has aimed to partner with universities like CSUN, CSULA, and CSUDH to help students and their families enroll in healthcare as well as answer any health-related questions. She has also been able to outreach to Latino and low-income communities to help increase their access to basic health screenings such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, and even flu shots. “These are the types of services my dad took me to when I was a little girl; I now feel like I’ve come full circle and can pay it forward for others,” she recalls.
In addition to her job responsibilities with AltaMed, Chrystel has also volunteered with the HIV screening and prevention team, the women’s health education cohort, and college information booths.
Promoting a healthy lifestyle through fitness is another way Chrystel contributes to the community. The connections she made at UCLA introduced her to organizations like Art of Stepping (AOS), an organization that hosts a K-12 after school program to teach stepping as a form of fitness and education in urban areas. Chrystel met Jessica Marie Saul (“Remo”), the founder of AOS, as an undergraduate sister of Lambda Theta Nu, where she held the position of Captain for the Southern California Region Step/Stroll Team. Her passion to serve others combined with her stage presence inspired Remo to ask Chrystel to join her team after graduation. Chrystel now serves as an after school teacher at an elementary school to help youth stay active and believe in their own capabilities.
All of Chrystel’s experiences with organizations in the fields of health and education have made her into a well-equipped community leader. Chrystel is passionate about service and wants to make sure that her community has as many open doors to opportunities as possible. She considers herself a servant leader because success is not only about what you accomplish as an individual, but how you empower others along the way. Her future goal is to work in the health field, and although she is undecided on whether she would like to pursue an M.D. or PhD, she wants to be able to make health policy changes on a grand scale while maintaining personal interactions.
Chrystel’s ultimate goal through service is to help underserved communities eliminate health disparities and give back to the community which helped her succeed.