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By Alexander Saunders

Sarah Montross ’23, Health Policy and Management at UNC-Chapel Hill, aspires to be a social worker. She spent summer 2023 as an SECU Public Fellows intern at UNC-Chapel Hill with El Futuro in Durham, who offer mental health services to predominately underserved Latine populations in their Durham and Siler City offices. Those eligible for services either do not have health insurance or have Medicare and Medicaid. El Futuro also offers events to bring communities together.

Sarah wears a black and white stripe shirt. She sits on an l shaped bench under a cover while looking down at a black laptop. She has her feet propped on the joining bench.
Montross enjoys working on her laptop in the beautiful space outside of the Durham office for El Futuro

“It’s all about taking care of yourself as a whole,” says Montross, when reflecting on the vision and mission of El Futuro. She says taking care of yourself includes mental health, but also includes a person’s physical well-being, mental well-being and social well-being. She adds, “I think that what really caught my eye to this place is it’s such a home feeling.”

During her summer internship as an SECU Public Fellow, Montross worked with multiple staff members at El Futuro, including Lizbeth Turrubiartes, the advancement coordinator for the organization. Turrubiartes says that the Latine population in Durham is continuously growing and so is the need for mental health.

“We are so grateful to have people like Sarah come to our organization and be able to help us reach more people with our mission and what we do at El Futuro,” says Turrubiartes. She says that one of the best ways to get connected with the organization is through volunteering. She encourages anyone inspired by the organization’s mission or Sarah’s story to consider doing so.

Turrubiartes also adds that supporting organizations like El Futuro, and helping to grow the network and spread talking points around mental health will aid in lowering the stigma around mental health in the communities they serve.

“Being an SECU Public Fellow has allowed me to shine light a little bit more light on this really awesome place and share my experiences,” says Montross.

Montross says the internships are based in a lot of places around North Carolina and connect interns with a lot of different people. “I think my favorite part has just been the community connection–I think that’s a big aspect of the SECU Public Fellows Internship program I would recommend.”

Hear more from Sarah and Lizbeth:

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