Healthy You - Every Day

Maria Carmelita Pernal Brings Her Culture to Work Every Day

Celebrate Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage (AANHPI) Month by reading her story

Maria Carmelita Pernal

May is Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage (AANHPI) Month. This month, we recognize AANHPI colleagues by sharing their stories.

Maria Carmelita Pernal, administrative partner on the 1B medical-surgical unit at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Hecktown Oaks, shares how food and culture make her who she is.

What are some of the most memorable moments when you felt included and welcomed at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN)?

I joined LVHN in May 2021 as an administrative partner at LVH–Muhlenberg. Administrative partners from other units were always ready to lend a hand, and it feels good to have that support. Soon enough, I developed my own routine and was glad to help new colleagues as well. My nursing background and years of corporate experience certainly come in handy. I moved to the 1B medical-surgical unit at LVH–Hecktown Oaks in November 2022 since it is closer to home.

“My colleagues here are warm and make me feel welcomed every day.” - Maria Carmelita Pernal

My colleagues here are warm and pleasant to work with. The Asian/South Asian CARES group is a voluntary group which welcomes all colleagues and creates a space for belonging, connection and development among colleagues from underrepresented groups. The Asian/South Asian CARES group recognizes the richness of our culture and promotes positivity in diversity throughout the health network. Any LVHN colleagues who are interested in joining should contact Jessica Liu, PhD, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Program Manager, to learn more.

What is an assumption people might make about your racial/ethnic heritage or identity?

Filipinos are commonly known to be warm-hearted, friendly and compassionate. These traits are evident in the way Filipino nurses care for their patients. As a Filipino, I bring the same attributes to my position as an administrative partner when engaging with patients and their families or collaborating with colleagues.

What food makes you think of your family/heritage and why?

Food is central to any Filipino gathering. Mainstays are pancit, chicken or pork adobo and lumpia. They may come in different varieties, depending on which region in the Philippines you come from. Fortunately, my husband, who is of Polish descent, loves them all. In my experience, people from other cultures have come to love and enjoy not just the food, but the music and fun that go with it. A Filipino get-together is never boring.


Nichole Cameron

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