Odalis Ascencio Puga

Early Learning Specialist

Odalis Ascencio Puga

Odalis joined the GUH team in August 2021. She is a Rice County ParentChild+ Early Learning Specialist and an Early Childhood Navigator working in Faribault and Northfield.

Where did you grow up, and how long have you lived in Northfield?

I was born and raised in Northfield, and six months ago I moved to Castle Rock.

What is your educational and/or work background?

I graduated from Northfield High School and the TORCH program in 2019. Through the Northfield Community College Collaborative, I’ve taken classes at Riverland Community College and Normandale Community College, and I will graduate in December 2021 with an Associate of Arts degree. I am hoping to transfer to a university to pursue a degree in social work.

Why did you take this job with GUH/HCI?

I wanted to become a registered nurse, but I discovered with job experience that it wasn’t what I enjoyed doing. When I saw this opportunity come up, I thought, “this is perfect.” I’ll be helping others – kids and their families. When I was younger, I didn’t have those opportunities.

What are your main job responsibilities?

I’m doing half ParentChild+ and half Growing Up Healthy navigator work. For ParentChild+, I help kids ages 18 months to 2 ½ years get ready for preschool and kindergarten. I introduce them to books and toys twice a week, and help their families find resources. For the navigator work, I help families sign up for screenings and appointments and direct them to other programs that meet their needs.

What do you like most about the job?

Being there for the families, so they know they have someone to support them. Even if they think there isn’t a solution, we’re here to navigate them to other resources.

What’s the most challenging part of your job? 

Keeping up with the communication. If families aren’t reaching out to you, you have to be persistent.

What are your hopes and dreams for the community where you work?

In the future, I’d like to see us more united with each other. I’d like people to know that there are others out there willing to support and help.

What do you do for fun?

I enjoy traveling and experiencing new activities and food. I also love to spend time with my dogs.