Alum Advice During COVID-19: Norma Martínez-Rubin ’81

Dear Seaver Students,


Words of the time:

-uncertainty and hardship,

-challenging times,

-when we return to normalcy


The more I read or hear these expressions in response to life with COVID-19, the more I believe they influence what’s supposed to be a socially acceptable emotional response during a pandemic. I’m not minimizing COVID-19’s incredible viral effects, nor am I un-empathetic to the upended lives of people worldwide. However, I have not felt the misery so many have as we’ve collectively responded to minimize viral exposure.

I vowed to not become jaded as a public health practitioner for as long as I was employed by local and state health departments — half of my career after graduating as a biology major from LMU. I suppose a combination of technical knowledge, the good fortune of having emotional support, comfortable shelter, and food within reach makes it easier to tell someone: “We’ll get through this. You’ll get through this. We’re doing what’s necessary to survive.”

All we think we’re supposed to have or know about by a certain age gets tested in stressful times like these. COVID-19 is certainly testing us! We experienced test anxiety in our academic preparation, but going through other, unforeseen events, and restarting plans from scratch after unplanned failures or rejection —in love and in career— strengthens personal resolve. And who doesn’t want to be a survivor?

My faith sustained me well before life at LMU. Afterward, in my personal and professional lives, a common thread has been to seek challenging opportunities that help improve health care access and social services among vulnerable populations. To succeed at that requires unwavering faith. No, not that God will make it all right in my life plan, but that having faith in a power beyond me will keep me calm enough to live through a challenge.

I won’t ever know all there is to learn in this life, much less to explain it. That doesn’t lower my expectations or desire for achievement and fulfillment. But, accepting that I won’t know everything results in a sufficiently calming effect that enables me to learn again and again.

Strangely, there’s some joy in being able to accumulate those lessons. It means I’ve lived and restarted again and again. And, that’s OK for now.

Norma Martínez-Rubin

LMU 1981