Gabriela Modglin

Gabriela Modglin

By Pamela Dean

Since she was in grade school, CSUCI alumna Gabriela Modglin was fascinated by science. A child of immigrants who did not have the opportunity to attend college themselves, Modglin jumped at every chance to participate in STEM mentorship programs and conferences aimed at interesting young girls in science careers.

Growing up, Modglin’s mother always accompanied her daughter to these events. Attending a conference on healthcare sparked a conversation between the pair that would deepen Modglin’s resolve to pursue a career in the medical field.

“She told me both my brother and I were born prematurely and were cared for at UCSF’s NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) for many months after birth,” Modglin explained. “My mother was visibly upset remembering her hardships, grateful that nonetheless she had raised two healthy adults, and I was bursting with questions. Able to provide very little information regarding our medical needs, I realized how terrifying it must have been for my mother to face these day-to-day questions without fully understanding the level of care being given to her babies. I knew medicine (in one way, shape or form) was my calling – I needed to learn more, share more, do more."

Her passion for healthcare and improving the quality of lives of vulnerable populations led to her choosing Biology as a major. Her desire to attend a close-knit university with a small student-to-faculty ratio that was also not terribly far from her home town of Salinas, California led her to choose CSUCI.

The 2011 graduate said she was inspired to achieve by watching how hard her parents worked to make a better life for her and her brother in their adopted country.

“I come from an agriculturally-based family. Both sets of grandparents, parents, and relatives began their journey in the United States as migrant workers. They didn’t arrive in this country with money, college degrees, or even the ability to speak English, but through their hard work and perseverance they were able to change their circumstances and provide my brother and me with a better life,” Modglin explained. “I respect my parents for overcoming their struggle, attending night classes to learn English, and working extra shifts to make ends meet, but I always struggled with their moto as a child: ‘You have to go school. You don’t want to end up like us.’ What they didn’t realize is that I was, and continue to be, just like them. I am hardworking, persistent, and resourceful—just like them. My parents inspired me to pursue a higher education so I wouldn’t have to endure the same amount of physical labor and financial hardship that they worked so hard to overcome.”

After graduating from CSUCI, Modglin dabbled in various healthcare-related jobs, but it wasn’t until she reached out to the University’s Alumni Engagement services that her professional career got on the fast track.

“The most influential program at CSUCI for me was the Alumni Mentorship program. I spoke to an alumni coordinator about my interest in medicine, particularly emergency medicine, and patient care. She put me in contact with Dr. Charles Drehsen, Medical Director for American Medical Response in Ventura County. Dr. Drehsen talked to me about my background in Biology, previous internships I had participated in through the University, and why I was drawn into healthcare. The connection that I made through CSUCI led to certification as an emergency medical technician, California licensure as a paramedic, and now program coordinator for the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.

In her current role as specialty care systems coordinator for Santa Barbara Public Health, Modglin is responsible for ensuring patients who are transported by ambulance receive the highest quality of care both at the scene and en route to the hospital.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, her role has expanded to include monitoring, tracking and reporting possible and confirmed COVID-19 exposures to healthcare organizations and first responders. She is also working closely with other Santa Barbara County healthcare partners including American Medical Response and various fire departments to help the county mitigate, respond and contain the disease.

Although she works in Santa Barbara, Modglin is a resident of Ventura.

“CSUCI provided me with not only a strong educational foundation for the biological sciences, but it also provided me with a first-hand view of the needs of the local and surrounding communities of Ventura County,” Modglin said. “My experience at CSUCI and the opportunities for participation in healthcare-related fields available to its students is the main reason why I remained in Ventura County after graduation.”

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