At 16 years old, Candice Mcaleavey had an experience that changed her life. She was sexually assaulted in her hometown of Ceres, California, by 2 men she knew. It caused her years of trauma that were exacerbated when 5 years later she needed to participate in a trial against the men who assaulted her.
“It was unbelievably difficult,” Mcaleavey said. “I was so young when it happened and in a small town where everyone knew about it.”
This wasn’t the first experience with violence Mcaleavey had. Growing up, she frequently witnessed violence between her mom and dad in a household of 3 sisters. In fact, that was her first memory.
Mcaleavey’s history has shaped who she is and is part of why she became a senior health educator for the Family Violence Prevention Program (FVP) at Kaiser Permanente Fresno. Outside of project management for the program, Mcaleavey consults practitioners on their work with members.
‘I help our providers step into [survivors’] shoes.’
“I’m able to come from a place of experience and understanding for our patients,” she said. “People who have been through traumatic experiences need to be talked to and treated differently. I help our providers step into their shoes.”
Mcaleavey also helps lead the FVP ambassador program where employees from different departments volunteer to champion and bring awareness to the program’s work. In collaboration with Angela Kuo, MD, lead physician of the FVP for the Fresno area, Mcaleavey developed curriculum and trained over 50 nurses, physicians, and medical assistants for the ambassador program.
She unites and motivates employees with her passion for violence prevention, said Stephen Case, director of Health Education for Kaiser Permanente Fresno.
“People respond to her passion,” Case said. “Not only is she great at equipping our ambassadors and physicians with effective tools and resources, but when they realize how much she cares, they are more apt to receive it.”
How She Got Here
The mom of 2 has been a health educator for 5 years, but her journey to Kaiser Permanente was long — and involved a taco truck. After a couple failed attempts to land a job at the organization, Mcaleavey got her master’s degree in health administration at the University of Phoenix online. She then became a nutritional educator for the Central California Food Bank where she drove a 15-foot truck with a full kitchen inside and performed cooking demonstrations to live audiences.
“There were so many good memories in that truck,” she recalled.
‘People respond to her passion.’
But it was one demonstration that led her to where she is today. Performing for a Kaiser Permanente Fresno Live Well Be Well event, little did Mcaleavey know she was cooking for her future colleagues. It wasn’t long after that she was invited to an interview.
Although helping others is Mcaleavey’s passion, her work as a health educator allowed her to understand her own suppressed trauma and ways to work through it. She sees a therapist weekly and calls herself a walking billboard for the program’s services.
“It forced me to get help, and today I am empowered by my past experiences,” she said. “Every time I advise our providers, I feel confident and know I am helping them, our patients, and myself at 16.”
Head to KP.org for more information on Kaiser Permanente’s Health Education resources.