For 16-year-old Valeri Guevarra, growing up in a family of healthcare professionals and being an athlete meant health was a top priority. When she wanted to take her personal health to the next level at the beginning of 2020, she decided to improve her diet and up her activity.
“2020 has been an eye-opener on how bad things really can be, how important it is to appreciate what you have, and how amongst all the bad, you have to hold on to hope for the future.”
She took several steps to do so, including buying healthy foods and putting in extra time at the gym. But on March 13, lockdown hit, turning her routine upside down. “I have grown up in a very privileged community where nothing awful has happened,” she said. “2020 has been an eye-opener on how bad things really can be, how important it is to appreciate what you have, and how amongst all the bad, you have to hold on to hope for the future.”
As gyms shut down, people were encouraged to remain indoors, Valeri had to reimagine her health routine. She immediately looked for sources about healthy living online but found that much of the content directed at young people contained misinformation. I had successfully used the internet and online resources to develop healthy habits,” she said. “Still, I recognized how hard it was to find reliable, simple, and Gen Z-focused resources about health.”
Valeri is the Founder of Teen Health 101, where she leads a team of 100+ members in creating content such as podcasts, articles, and graphics to educate the youth about important health topics. The website seeks to combat misleading and inaccurate information and provide teens with a platform where young people can find accessible health information. “Some of my responsibilities include monitoring our SLACK workspace and social media, consulting with the executive board, and ensuring all operations are running smoothly,” she said.
“I use my voice for good by utilizing online resources and my knowledge to help educate young people about health."
Valeri was honored for her work in Healthcare through The ConversationaLIST, our annual honoree list recognizing exceptional Gen Z'ers making an impact. “I use my voice for good by utilizing online resources and my knowledge to help educate young people about health and empower them to improve their health physically and mentally,” she said.
Valeri is currently dedicating all of the time she can to building the organization and connecting with her team. “I am fast-paced and a ‘good under pressure’ type of person, so I want my schedule busy and packed,” she said.
In five years, Valeri hopes to have graduated with a double major in nursing and economics and would like to be attending law school. Her ultimate goal for the future is that her interdisciplinary education will allow her to change careers easily. "One day, I could be a nurse,” she said. “The next day, I could be in a courtroom representing a patient in a malpractice case. I hope that my education will allow me to have limitless choices for growth.”
The Conversationalist’s mission resonates with Valeri because she appreciates how it provides support and stability to its Gen Z members. “Everything often feels like a competition where everyone is fighting to be better than the next person,” she said. “The community that The Conversationalist has built helps combat the negativity resulting from the constant competition. Anxiety and depression often result from these feelings of continuous competition, leading to poor mental health.”
Valeri is committed to creating a unified world and breaking open her echo chamber in her own life. “As Generation Z, I believe we can build a unified world by breaking down the barriers that divided the generations before us, including divisions over religion, culture, political beliefs, and sexuality,” she said. “Unified does not mean to agree with everyone’s different beliefs, but it means tolerating and respecting their beliefs.”
“Unified does not mean to agree with everyone’s different beliefs, but it means tolerating and respecting their beliefs.”
When it comes to navigating difficult conversations, Valeri tries to be patient and considerate of other perspectives. “There is always something, usually rational, that motivates someone's thinking, whether it be a personal experience, a significant event, or an outside influence like a parent,” she said.
We couldn't be more proud of Valeri Guevarra, and her commitment to helping Gen Z make informed decisions about their health. Keep up with her on Instagram and follow Teen Health 101 to learn more about her work.