Low-income women can get help on how to set up their own bank accounts, read nutrition labels and more through a UCLA Health program.
Women’s Health & Money @ Work, one of the core programs of the Iris Cantor-UCLA Women’s Health Education and Resource Center, aims to educate low-to-moderate-income women in Los Angeles County on financial literacy and nutrition. Snigdha Jayavarapu, an intern at the center and third-year psychology student, said the program is catered to this demographic as these women are more likely to be raising children on their own, often without spousal support.
Julie Friedman, director of the center, said research has shown financial issues are among the greatest sources of stress for low-income women. According to WHMW’s website, the program aims to ease this difficulty for women by emphasizing the importance of both financial literacy and healthy lifestyles.
“Low-income women are faced with a lot of challenges and choices about how to prioritize their payments,” Friedman said. “Do they pay for blood pressure medication or do they pay their rent on time?”
Established in 2016 as part of UCLA Health, the WHMW program was founded to help women all over Los Angeles make these choices. Direct outreach is key in WHMW’s methodology, with the program often holding classes on-site at job training centers and work sites, according to the center’s website.
Sierra Moon, a UCLA alumna who graduated in 2018, began working as an intern during spring and became a project coordinator after graduating. She said her experiences as a human biology and society student motivated her to join the center.
“I was pre-med and I was really interested in women’s health after doing a lot of papers and taking classes on it through my major. … After learning about the projects they were doing here, I wanted to get involved as much as I could,” said Moon.
Current WHMW programs include financial management classes taken at the Los Angeles Hospitality Training Academy.
“The finance classes teach them how to manage their paychecks so when they get their first paychecks they don’t just spend it. … They learn how to save it and manage it and which bills to pay first,” Moon said.
UCLA student interns are integral to the operations of the program, from administrative work to grant writing, Friedman said.
Daisy Duran, a fourth-year human biology and society student and current intern, chose to work at the center for academic credit.
As the only current intern who is bilingual, Duran has also been able to conduct workshops, which are often held in both English and Spanish.
“I’m very dedicated to helping underserved communities, and just going to the sites I could see how grateful these women are to be receiving this education,” Duran said. “Even I was able to learn things as a college undergrad that I didn’t know before.”
WHMW allows students interested in pursuing careers in health care to explore professional experiences beyond patient care, said Jayavarapu, who joined the center as an intern in October.
“There is patient care, which a lot of students at UCLA who are pre-med and pre-health are interested in, but this is a completely different aspect of it,” Jayavarapu said. “This is public health and public health education. … I have received exposure which I wouldn’t have been able to get in another setting, such as a clinical or a hospital setting.”