Behind the Leader Advocating for the Health of the UCLA Health Workforce
Q&A Interview Series with Artists & our Mindful Music Community
Sharing Why Music Matters
Patrese, thank you for your tremendous efforts in leading the way for wellness for caregivers at UCLA Health. We'd love to learn more about your day to day and connection to music!
Please tell us about your job at UCLA and how long you've been working there.
My role is the Director of Wellness and Community Engagement for the Office of Community at UCLA Health. This June marked my 7th year at UCLA Health (OMG – time flies)
Incredible. You must really be an expert at understanding the importance of wellness in such a big organization. What does your work day look like?
My typical day consists of interacting, partnering, planning, collaborating, coordinating, scheduling and promoting all things WELLNESS for our incredibly vast and diverse staff. These are trying times for many and for many reasons, so what my days looked like pre-COVID-19 and pre- the death of George Floyd was very different.
I have made a lot of adjustments over the last several months with the current events that are taking place in our world and communities. I spend my time meeting, collaborating with and learning from experts, our community and wellness partners to re-plan, refocus and pay attention to what matters to our staff.
My focus for the wellness program has shifted and while we continue to provide resources for all aspects of wellness, we are placing emphasis on the areas of most need.
During this time of uncertainty and blatant social injustice, mental health and well-being and social wellness are more important than ever.
I hope the wellness program will help to be a conduit for learning and growth as we work collectively to address health inequities and systemic racism across our institution and the world.
You speak with such passion and excitement. Tell us what got you interested in wellness on an organizational level.
I have always had an interest in living healthy and staying active for myself, so this role was a great fit. I became interested in health, wellness and population health on an organizational level in 2015 after completing my first professional wellness certification under Health and Wellness pioneer, Larry Chapman and attending a prestigious wellness conference at the Cleveland Clinic with many more of those pioneers.
Learning from and collaborating with those experts to better understand the impact that wellness can have on a population was something that intrigued me. The creative aspect of building, customizing and promoting the program for an entire organization also excited me. My collaborations and partnerships both internally at UCLA Health and externally across the state and local levels continue to motivate me.
Wellness is clearly a passion and expertise of yours. Tell us about your interest in music.
Did you ever play an instrument? Why does music matter to you as a person?
I played the saxophone for 2 years when around 11 or 12. While I enjoyed it, I was not really encouraged to pursue it and lost motivation. I could play little drummer boy really well.
My mom and dad introduced us very early on to music of ALL styles and genres – from Classical to Country, Italian opera to Jazz to Rhythm and Blues to good ole’ Rock n’ Roll – we were listening and dancing to it in the living room.
The music matters to me because I am able to close my eyes and take myself back to moments in time when life was simpler, slower, and we were all young.
My parents are getting older now and I cherish them for many reasons - one of them is for instilling in me a love and most importantly and appreciation for all MUSIC.
Why does music matter to you as a community leader and wellness advocate?
Music is so powerful. One can be moved to tears just based on the feeling that music evokes – with or without words. Music can uplift, inspire and engage – with or without words. Music has the power to heal and encourage growth and foster ideas. Music is just so powerful.
What is one memorable musical live event or song that means a lot to you?
I’ve been to music festivals and concerts and have seen great talent, but the one concert that stands out the most is James Brown in a very small and intimate auditorium at my Alma Mater, Indiana University
of Pennsylvania. He was incredible – and his moves were on fire. There are too many songs that mean a lot to me, but one that stands out right now is Wide Open Spaces by
the Dixie Chicks… It is my anthem in a way from when I decided to move from my sweet tiny town in Pennsylvania to Los Angeles 21 years ago. The lyrics describe where I was at that time in my life… 23 years old, eager, curious, hungry for more.
The song can take me to the moment when I left… and the feeling I had of both excitement and sadness to be leaving my family to make my own life. It’s strange to look back and feel the amount of time that has passed.
Music and mental health are so interconnected. How has music helped you?
Music has helped heal, motivate and move me in many ways throughout my life and for many different reasons. There is nothing like listening to a song that takes you back to a moment in time – good or bad – and closing your eyes to feel that moment.
I love music. All of it.
What attracted you to Mindful Music?
Aside from the music - Dalida Arakelian, the founder of the program is what attracted me to Mindful Music.
She was someone who had a vision to use music for wellness in a way that was innovative and powerful.
From the moment we met and she shared her vision, I knew that her passion for music was something that was going to MAKE Mindful Music special. We partnered early on at the inception of the program to get the word out and it that was all it took.
She had the idea, she had the music, I had the wellness platform to promote it and it worked like magic - very quickly establishing a following.
What is your hope for music and wellness?
My hope is that music will be continue to be used and accepted as a proven method of personal healing and connecting for people…
Music invokes feelings and a responses and as long as we support and promote it, music will continue to heal people, move people, engage people, uplift and motivate people in a way that only music can.
Patrese thank you for all that you do to make the UCLA Health community healthy, mindful, and renewed to care for patients.
Interview conducted by Dalida Arakelian.