Diving Back to Community Health: Familiar Waters in an Unfamiliar Country


Ricco Iglesias

3rd Year, Master in Business Administration and Health Services Administration

 Before graduate school, I worked for four years in community health – two years as a Project Manager focused on reducing mental health disparities in Solano County, California, and another two years as a Community Health Worker conducting emergency preparedness training and COVID-19 response with the City of Berkeley. Since starting graduate school in Fall 2021, I haven’t worked in community health settings…until the opportunity came up with Public Health in Action – Grenada. 

My name is Ricco Iglesias, and I am a third-year graduate student pursuing my degrees in business (MBA) and health management & policy (MHSA) with a penchant for working with people and working towards health equity. As someone ready to return to the workforce and leave the Ann Arbor winters, I told myself to do less work this semester…but here I am today, working alongside a new team, developing collaboration norms, and learning about blood donation infrastructure in the Caribbean. I’ve worked in various community health settings before, but to have the opportunity to establish guidelines for Grenada’s blood donation program is a chance I didn’t want to miss. 

Driven by my experiences as a first-generation Filipino immigrant, I pursued public health to impact underserved communities and make healthcare accessible and affordable; this partnership with Red Cross Grenada will do just that. An ongoing supply of blood is absolutely important to the healthcare system. With a global shortage of blood supply, especially in low- and middle-income countries, having an effective blood donation program is critical to save people’s lives. I’m extremely excited to work with Red Cross Grenada to understand the current state of blood donation in the country and how our team can develop culturally relevant and community-driven guidelines to establish Grenada’s blood donation program. This won’t be an easy task, especially when there’s a stigma associated with donating and infusing blood. Nevertheless, my team is up to the task, and we’re already brainstorming on the best ways to prepare so that when we land in Grenada, we can be as effective as possible in getting to know community members and their perspectives. I hope to learn not just about blood donation programs, but how these programs can be adapted to Grenada and the greater Caribbean. 

It’s been a while since I’ve worked directly in community health. Since pausing from fulltime employment and starting graduate school, I’ve devoted my time to classes and exploring what Michigan has to offer to a Midwestern transplant. By the end of PHIA and this collaboration with Red Cross Grenada, I hope to reignite my passion for working with the community on the ground – as a reminder of why I went to graduate school in the first place: working towards a more affordable and accessible healthcare for all.