After studying and practicing mental health for ten years in Los Angeles, California, and Austin, Texas, Maida Mascorro decided to bring her experience back to her hometown, the border town of Roma, Texas, and fulfill her desire to give back to the community that shaped her life and inspired her to work in community health.
Maida knew her hometown had no local mental health providers and people had to travel nearly 65 miles to see the nearest therapist in McAllen, Texas. So she established a behavioral health practice in Roma to treat the town’s residents.
“Many of my older patients thank me for being available because they wouldn’t be able to regularly make the trek to McAllen. Not only is the nearest therapist far away, but many of our population speak only Spanish, and residents here need someone they can easily communicate with on a consistent basis,” says Maida, who is fluent in Spanish. She also understands that language and cultural barriers make many patients reluctant to divulge their problems and concerns to friends, family, or even licensed health professionals.
Maida had been back in Roma for nearly eight years when she discovered that since her site is located in a medically underserved area, it qualified to become a National Health Service Corps (NHSC) site. She then applied to the NHSC Loan Repayment Program to get her student loans paid off in return for her service.
“The loan repayment offered through the Corps is such a blessing to me,” Maida says. “Since I had already established my practice in Roma, this program enabled me to continue what I was doing and devote my time and resources to expanding my practice and serving the community.”
Maida’s practice is the only one of its kind in the community. “I love listening to people, and I have always wanted to be a counselor,” says Maida. “I enjoy being in a position to help my patients work through their problems and make a change in their lives. What better place to start than my hometown? I am proud of this area, and I am proud that I have the opportunity to better it.”