Welcome YLNG’s New Co-Chair Jose DeJesus!

August 31, 2019

What is your current role at Yale University?

Community Health Educator for Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Center Hospital. In December, I will have been in this role for 4 years. Prior to this position, I worked at the library shelving books, and as a weekend waterer at the Marsh Garden. I also held a casual position as a research assistant. I got my start at Yale through New Haven Works, where I held part-time jobs over the course of 5 years, before gaining a managerial and professional position.  

What are your main responsibilities?

My main responsibilities are to provide the community with cancer screening and prevention information, healthy lifestyles, and clinical trial information.

What do you like most about your work?

What I like most about my work is having the opportunity to provide the community a vital service by helping with screenings, transportation to appointment, and navigating healthcare. I also love being able to help people that look like me, since our primary focus is on African American and Latino men. 

How does your job affect your general lifestyle?

As an empty nester, not having traditional work hours is a benefit. I’ve never had two days alike, which is what keeps me at Yale. I’m always trying something different.

How did you begin your career?

I’ve always been in health and human services and have never been without 2 jobs at a time. I began my career when I was 16 years old at Columbus House, which was the first state accredited homeless shelter in 1980. I was one of their first employees and was a residential supervisor. My mother’s church was instrumental in establishing Columbus House. I was also a community service coordinator for the court system, worked at the CT Valley Hospital Whiting Forensic Institute in therapeutic rehabilitation, and opened a package store with family members.     

What steps would you recommend one take to prepare to enter this field?

It’s important to want to help people and be able to understand that it’s not about making money. If you’re lucky, you can live a simple life, but you must be happy with what you’re doing. It’s also important to be a change agent, which is the mindset of Yale and the hospital; to change community perceptions and get black and brown people tested early.
What skills, abilities, and personal attributes are essential to success in your job/this field?

To be successful, you must care for your community and know thyself. A bachelor’s degree in human services also opens the door for more opportunities.  

If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? If not, what would you change?

If I could do it all over again, I would not choose the same path for myself. I would finish my high school education and go to prom.

What does YLNG mean to you, and what are you hoping to accomplish as Co-Chair?

YLNG is an important part of Latinos being at Yale. It’s an opportunity for Latinos to have a voice and a platform. I am hoping to engage Latino community members and give them access to Yale jobs.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

If you are interested in participating in YLNG, please join us, and feel free to contact me directly at: jose.dejesus@yale.edu.