Rio Americano High School

The Mirada

Rio Americano High School

The Mirada

Rio Americano High School

The Mirada

High-Profile Visit Brings Sec. Becerra, Rep. Bera, District Leadership to Rio

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and U.S. Rep. Ami Bera stopped by Rio to promote medical education programs
Photo By Rami al Mufti
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and US Rep. Ami Bera visit Rio Americano High School Medical Careers Program on April 8, 2024.

To read the full article about the visit and local and national efforts to address the growing healthcare worker shortage, click here. A photo slideshow and video from the event can be viewed here.

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and U.S. Rep. Ami Bera, who represents Sacramento, stopped by Rio Americano for a high-profile visit Monday.

After visiting Rio Americano, Becerra said he felt like “there is a real reason to hope for our future.”

On Friday, crews could be seen cleaning buildings and mowing the lawns in preparation for the secretary’s high-profile visit. The Secret Service was also present over the weekend conducting a sweep of the campus. Local news outlets attended the event, too.

Medical careers program teacher London Mackey welcomed Becerra and Bera to the med wing to speak directly with her sophomore students.

“I love having speakers that the students can interact with,” Mackey said.

Rio’s medical careers students shared their interest in pursuing careers in radiology, pediatrics and sports medicine, among others.

“It’s good not just for Rio but for all pathways,” Principal Cliff Kelly said. “It’s the first time we’ve ever had a cabinet-level person show up to a San Juan school.”

The medical facility at Rio was originally funded by federal money that trickled down to San Juan and by bond measures local voters approved.

“We have a number of programs where we help establish the pipeline,” Becerra said of his department’s work with youth. “We provide a dollar to the state of California. The state then gets it down to school districts, and then the schools get to use it the way they think best.”

In their meeting with first-period med program students, Becerra and Bera spoke about the growing importance of mental health services, including increased funding for 988, the new national number for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline for mental health services.

The secretary, asked by a med student what he saw as the most important up-and-coming developments in federal healthcare, told students about the Advanced Research Project Agency for Health (ARPA-H), whose goal is to “catalyze the next generation of treatments to improve the health of all Americans.”

Becerra spent time in Southern California last week as part of his latest Latino health tour before coming to Sacramento this week. 

Becerra was born and raised in Sacramento and graduated from nearby McClatchy High School. Before becoming the first Latino HHS secretary, Becerra spent four years as California Attorney General, gaining national attention for bringing over 100 lawsuits against former president Donald Trump.

He also served in congress, representing Los Angeles, for more than two decades, and as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus at the end of his congressional tenure.

As HHS secretary, Becerra has helped protect and expand the Affordable Care Act and assist in overseeing the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At HHS, we want in,” Becerra said.

Becerra joked that “as much as there is conflict and controversy going on throughout the world, when a CK McClatchy Lion will come visit Rio Americano, things are pretty good in the world.”

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  • JulianApr 11, 2024 at 11:27 AM

    I think this is great for Rio Americano. It is nice to have someone like Xavior Becerra and Ami Bera spreading hope for the future of not only the program but the students that dedicate themselves to the medical field.

  • Grant OApr 11, 2024 at 8:55 AM

    I think it is very refreshing to have someone in charge who is genuinely dedicated to making change and cares about our education. It makes me slightly more optimistic for students’ future with someone like Ami Bera watching our back.