Living in Washington’s Tri-Cities, in the midst of Cougar country, Rafael Saucedo knew from a young age that he wanted to be a Husky. Mostly that was just a matter of not wanting to “go with the crowd” by following the well-beaten path of his peers to Washington State University.
Although neither of his parents had gone to college, their hard work and sacrifices to ensure food on the table and a roof overhead have always been an inspiration to Rafael. This early work ethic stood him in good stead at Pasco’s Chiawana High School, where an “awesome advisor” pushed him to think about what he would do after high school.
Rafael had always wanted to be a doctor—it was obvious that college was a necessary step on that path. Once again, an advisor played a key role in Rafael’s decision of where to go: this time, a UW Tacoma admissions advisor, who completely sold Rafael on the campus’s urban setting and class sizes.
He came to UW Tacoma as a freshman and he completed his degree in four years. Along the way he shifted from pre-med to healthcare leadership, prompted by realizing his calling to help people could make as much of an impact on the administrative side as on the diagnostic side. And there was also the realization that chemistry and biology were not for him.
Rafael has lived in a student apartment at Court 17 all four years of his time at UW Tacoma. There was a bit of a culture shock when he first arrived in Tacoma. He had not been involved in extra-curricular activities in high school at all. “I soon realized I wasn’t going to make any friends at UWT by staying locked up in my dorm room,” he said.
He joined the Latino Student Union. That led him to ASUWT, the UW Tacoma student government, and then the Student Activities Board. He became president of PATH, Partners in Action to Transform Healthcare, the student organization “dedicated to supporting students from the Healthcare Leadership and Nursing programs.”
He organized blood drives on campus. This put him in touch with the leadership of Cascade Regional Blood Services, where he did an internship, as well as at MultiCare. Recently he was hired as the marketing and communications supervisor for Cascade Regional Blood Services.
It is obvious that Rafael found his niche at UW Tacoma. He says that he feels very safe here, “physically, but more than that—mentally, and spiritually as well.” He attributes some of his good feelings about the campus to strong mentorship from faculty. He lists Kim Davenport and Alison Cardinal in Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences as important influences, as well as Christine Stevens in Nursing & Healthcare Leadership. He is co-author, with Davenport, of an article on one aspect of Tacoma’s music history that will be published soon in the quarterly journal of the Washington State Historical Society.
His goal is to stay and build his career in Tacoma. He has applied for admission to the new Master of Arts in Community Planning degree in UW Tacoma’s Urban Studies program. He sees the MACP as a natural complement to his bachelor’s in healthcare leadership, equipping him to dedicate himself to creating sustainable communities.
His words of wisdom for those coming after him: “Don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable. You should seek out situations where you feel challenged to the point that you are questioning your own beliefs. That’s the only way you are going to grow.”