Tania Pacheco-Werner is the co-assistant director at the Central Valley Health Policy Institute at Fresno State. Her latest work on neighborhood health, “Unequal Neighborhoods: Fresno,” uses historical, census, environmental, and health surveillance data to demonstrate how health outcomes are shaped in neighborhoods. Before taking part in a Zócalo/The California Wellness Foundation streamed event titled “How Can We Make Farm Work Healthier,” she paid a visit to the virtual green room to share stories about why space captivated her growing up, her 18-month-old’s music taste, and how to prepare a favorite comfort food: oranges with mint, honey, and yogurt.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a child, I wanted to be—I didn't know what it was called at first, but the person that looked at the stars and studied them. Then I learned that that was an astrophysicist, and I really wanted to be that. I still have a fascination today with the stars and space. When I was in kindergarten, I lived in Southern California and we took a trip to a museum that had a planetarium. Sitting back there as a little 5-year-old in those big old chairs and just seeing the sky, it was just like, "How can I look at this forever?"
What is hanging on your refrigerator?
A lot of magnets with really bad puns, and magnets of places my husband and I, and now my son, have visited. We try to get a magnet wherever we go.
What’s your favorite of the puns?
That would be one with three little gnomes together, and it says, "Rolling with the gnomies."
What's the best gift you've ever gotten?
The best gift I've ever gotten. Oh my God. It's a split decision, really. The first one was when I turned 7-years-old, and my dad went to work in the fields on a Saturday so he could get some extra money to buy me a present because we were very, very poor. He got me a little doll that would get these little heart tattoos and star tattoos when soaked in warm water. I think the most special part about it is that I remember that my dad went to work in the fields for a day to just earn some extra income so that he could buy me the doll.
Do you have a favorite local band or musician?
I would have to say that I really like all types of music. Honestly, if I went to see what I've been playing right now because my son loves it, I listen to Bad Bunny the most.
What is the best advice you've ever received?
Well, I think one thing that I try to remember is something that my mom told me. In Spanish it’s No eres monedita de oro, para caerle bien a todo. It translates to say: You're not a gold coin, so not everyone's going to like you. It just reminds me to try to stay true to myself and know that it's OK if there are people or organizations or entities that are going to disagree.
What’s a go-to comfort food you like to make that uses local ingredients?
One thing we really grow around here is oranges, and oranges are actually in season right now. My mother-in-law taught me this recipe because she grows oranges in her backyard. I learned it from her. It's really simple, oranges with plain yogurt and some mint leaves.