September 13, 2023
The Outstanding Former Young Parent Award is presented to a former young parent who has risen to the challenges of early parenting, has achieved extraordinary personal and/or professional success, and demonstrates phenomenal leadership. This award not only recognizes young parents; it celebrates them and their accomplishments, for themselves, and for their families. We are pleased to announce Marlen Ramirez as this year’s Outstanding Former Young Parent awardee.
Marlen explained, coming from a culture that usually does not have conversations about health education or reproductive health led her to become a Community Health Worker and a Community Health Worker Instructor in Texas. Marlen found her pregnancy to be motivation to graduate high school and continue her post-secondary education. She welcomed twins at 27 weeks and faced the ups and downs challenges that she credits with making her the person she is today. With strength and perseverance, Marlen earned her B.S. in Social Sciences from Sul Ross State University and cemented her future in the helping professions.
While completing her undergraduate studies, Marlen had the opportunity to work with programs that promoted post-secondary education, and she saw that all too often, health education was not at the top of the list. She noted, we were preparing students to be academically successful, but we weren’t providing them with the information they need to make medically informed decisions.
She is an advocate for health promotion and health equality and was awarded the Women of Del Rio Award for creating health education programs focused on reducing health disparities.
As a Community Health Worker, Marlen helped individuals make medically informed decisions that resulted in them reaching their goals and living healthy lives. She is an advocate for health promotion and health equality and was awarded the Women of Del Rio Award for creating health education programs focused on reducing health disparities. As a Community Health Worker, she developed programs for communities along border cities in southwest Texas.
Currently, Marlen serves on the Texas Department of State Health Services Community Health Worker, or Promotor(a), Training and Certification Program Committee, and she has served as Co-President for Hope-K Trinational Health Council in Eagle Pass/Del Rio/Ciudad Acuña and Trinational Cotrina.
In 2016, Marlen launched Better Futures Forever, which trains teens as ambassadors to reduce teen pregnancy in southwest Texas. Marlen was recognized in 2018 for her work in adolescent health, receiving the David C. Willey Award from the Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (now called Healthy Futures of Texas). By 2022, Better Futures Forever became a certified training center for Community Health Workers in Texas, providing training for certification and continuing education hours for Community Health Workers. In 2023, Better Futures Forever become one of the only training centers to provide certification to high schools in southwest Texas, after certifying one of the youngest cohorts of high school students in Marlen’s Texas hometown.
Today, Marlen continues to serve as a Community Health Worker, a Community Health Worker Instructor, a project administrator, and a community outreach specialist. Better Futures Forever continues to be part of her family’s legacy, as it is fully family-operated and maintains its efforts to make an impact in community health education.
We will present Marlen with the 2023 Outstanding Former Teen Parent Award at #HealthyTeen23, our annual national conference, to be held October 2-4. We hope you can join us in Portland to help congratulate Marlen!
Wondering who else has received the Outstanding Former Teen Parent Award? Check out past awardees on our conference website.
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