DISRUPTING HEALTHCARE FOR THE UNDERSERVED Cecilia Corral, Co-Founder of CareMessage
Share with us your background, your roots. I am a first-generation Mexican-American, my family moved to south Texas (Rio Grande Valley) from Mexico when I was one and had to basically start from zero. I am the youngest of four, and I also have four older half-siblings from my dad's first marriage. Needless to say, we had a very large, busy, and at times chaotic Mexican family. During my childhood, my parents sold at a local flea market to make ends meet and we relied heavily on food stamps and Medicaid. Things improved as I got older, and my family and teachers really pushed me to focus on my education. I went to Stanford University where I earned my Bachelor's in Product Design engineering. I am a first-generation college grad and the first in my extended family to earn a Bachelor's degree. After Stanford, I started a Ph.D. program in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, but after my dad passed away in my first year I began to reevaluate my priorities. I dropped out in my second year to co-found a health tech nonprofit called CareMessage and fight for equity in healthcare.
Who or what has been your inspiration? My dad has been and continues to be my inspiration. He had a level of perseveranceÂ I was not able to fully comprehend until after he passed away. He was an entrepreneur in his own way, both big and small. In the 80s, he worked on a social enterprise in Mexico to help distribute farm animals in rural communities that could be used to generate income for families. Some of my favorite photos are of him distributing toys in schools back then, and the smiles of the children he would help. He never lost that sense of giving back, and even when we were at our poorest, both of my parents found ways to help others. I remember going back-to-school shopping and wishing I had a nicer notebook or backpack, but my parents would buy the cheapest things for me and then a whole extra set of everything. The extra supplies were for kids in Mexico that couldn't afford school supplies. When I think back I am grateful for those lessons that I didn't understand at the time. The commitment to helping others is something my dad would remind me of constantly when I was at Stanford, and it is what guides me to this day.
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Find our list of "100 Most Influential Latinas" 200 introduced by Sylvia Acevedo, CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA.