BS in Chemistry
College of Arts and Science, ’99
Helen was a chemistry major when
her father suddenly died. As her grades and focus began to slip, the college’s dean stepped in, securing for her an emergency scholarship and ensuring that she did not give in to her grief. Helen says, “I am forever grateful not only for the scholarship, but also for the people behind it who inspired me—and continue to inspire me—to become a leader with the guts to take risks and show others how very possible it is to build communities by assisting one person at a time.” Helen transformed the loss of her father into her life’s goal: to improve health care in the neighborhood where she grew up. In 2009, she cofounded and became director of the Plaza del Sol Family Health Center in Queens, a division of Urban Health Plan, which has since assisted over 17,500 patients. She says, “Many of the patients at my community health center in Queens call me ‘doctora.’ I am not an M.D. but they say I’m the ‘doctora de la comunidad.’ I do not take that title lightly. I know what it means to be given the gift of respect.” Revered in the New York City community for her dedication, she has received a Community Impact Award, Humanitarian Award, and City of New York American Dreamer Award.