Lupita Zepeda’s career path has been a bit of winding road. Today, she’s a child and adolescent skills trainer at Oaklawn’s Elkhart campus. But her journey has taken her places she never would have expected.
Lupita began her career as a dentist in private practice in Mexico. After three years, she went to work for the Mexican government in a social program serving indigenous and marginalized communities in rural areas. She traveled across three states, working in shelters, performing preventive dentistry, and dental health education. She became increasingly drawn to public health aspects of her work – so much so, that she returned to school for a master’s in public health. She went back into private practice for two years before coming to the U.S.
Here, her jobs included serving as Hispanic Outreach Director for a local youth-serving agency and working as a young adult minister for the Catholic Diocese. She furthered her education, as well, through a three-year pastoral leadership training through the Diocese that included two years of study at Holy Cross and a year at Notre Dame. She studied a semester at Ivy Tech. All the while, she’s volunteered at her church and has become an advocate for the local Hispanic community.
Eight years ago, she joined Oaklawn’s team as a skills trainer. She’s certified to teach Triple P, a parenting course, and works with parents, children and teens to build life skills, from increasing self-esteem to controlling emotions.
“The most rewarding thing is I have letters from teenagers that say, ‘Lupita, thank you very much,’ or the parents say, ‘Oh my God, now I can see the difference.’ That’s the best thing,” she says. “The challenge is sometimes it’s very stressful, so we have to take care of ourselves.”
Despite her related experience, she’s grateful that Oaklawn has provided so much training. “There is no, ‘Just jump on.’ There’s good training, and we have the opportunity to shadow, and the environment is good,” she said. She’s also grateful for the spirit of teamwork among her co-workers and the guidance of her supervisor.
“The people here at Oaklawn, they always help us. They say, ‘Don’t worry. I’m going to help you.’ And they do. Everybody. Technology, Housekeeping, front desk – everybody.”