Faustina Solis

1923 – 2013

Outreach to the most disadvantaged

Born in 1923, Faustina Solis entered the field of social work as a pre-professional at the Plaza Community Center in Los Angeles with an undergraduate degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. After earning an MSW in 1950 from the University of Southern California, she was a psychiatric social worker for seven years, first at the Pacific State Hospital in Pomona, and then at the Los Angeles Child Guidance Clinic. Solis then entered the field of public health, where her special contributions were both significant and lasting and where her truly distinguished role in health services became manifest.

Solis worked first as a social work consultant, then as coordinator and director of the Farm Workers Health Service under the auspices of the California State Department of Public Health and sometimes with the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. She concentrated on bringing health services to migrant farm workers, a particularly disadvantage population in the state of California.

Her innovative work involved helping families to access education for their children. This system was the first in the country and was possibly sparked by memories of her early childhood when her family was visited by public health nurses because of communicable illness. An important collaborator in Solis’ effort was the United Farm Workers Union. She was also directly involved in the creation and operation of the community health program for Latinos in San Ysidro, San Diego County, and continues to maintain a relationship with this organization.

Her development of services for one of California’s most disadvantaged populations, as well as her talent, were then recognized by her appointment to the faculty of the School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, where she brought ethnic content into the curriculum of medical students. She was advanced to the position of assistant chancellor and, at the time of her retirement, was Provost at this University. Her contributions were recognized by the renaming of the Thurgood Marshall College Lecture Hall to “Faustina F. Solis Lecture Hall.”

Solis’ service at the University of California, San Diego was punctuated by a two-year leave to serve as deputy director of the Public Health Division of the California Department of Health Service, and by consultation appointments in Guadalajara, Venezuela, and Ecuador. She also served on a number of national bodies.

Many honors have been bestowed on Faustina Solis, and few people have equaled her contributions as a professional social worker to the field of health and welfare.

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