Elena Rivera

Elena Rivera is a graduate student at the University of Missouri with a focus in radio reporting. She has reported and produced stories on arts and culture, education and mental health for KBIA. She received a B.A. in Communication and International Studies from Hope College in Holland, Michigan. Before coming to KBIA, Elena worked as the Career Development Specialist for a North Carolina non-profit called Dress for Success Triangle, which helped unemployed and underemployed women find jobs.

Photo courtesy of Disney, Inc.

I grew up in Mexico City, Mexico. When I was younger, I would watch telenovelas with my friend Fernanda after school. We would both sit on her white, fur rug, our backpacks flung across the room.

For an hour every day, I saw all the women I could be: a ranchera keeping my land safe from a dastardly uncle, a time traveler, a queen. All the possibilities were in front of me.

 Dentist Jon Reagan smiles into the camera. He is wearing glasses and a bright yellow MOMOM [Missouri Mission of Mercy] t-shirt.
Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Jon Reagan is a dentist in Neosho, Mo., who has been practicing for almost 20 years. We met as he volunteered at the sixth annual Missouri Mission of Mercy (MOMOM). This is a once a year, two-day dental clinic providing free care for anyone who’s willing to wait in line. It’s in a different place every year, and this year the event was held in Joplin.

Nine years ago, Jon began visiting North Belize as a medical missionary, helping people with extractions and oral health care education. He spoke about the similarities he sees between the oral health issues in rural communities in Missouri and in Belize, as well as his passion for volunteering at MOMOM.

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org

Elena Rivera

A new fee approved by Mizzou students in the spring will help fund expanded mental health services on campus over the coming school year. That's good news for the many students who seek out the MU Counseling Center each semester. 

“The only thing I wanted my freshman year was to be normal,” said Daniaja Davis. “I wanted to have a normal college experience. I thought I really wanted to get away from home, that was the mindset I was in. If I get away and start over, life will be swell.”

For Davis, a women and gender studies major at the University of Missouri, coming to college was a tough transition.