South alumna appointed as White House Fellow

Although Vanessa Cobarrubias calls the Rio Grande Valley home, she is currently living in Washington, D.C.

In August, Cobarrubias, a Harlingen High School South graduate, was appointed as a 2022-2023 White House Fellow.  The oldest fellowship in Washington D.C., The White House Fellows, a non-partisan fellowship, offers young leaders an opportunity to work in the highest levels of Federal government for one year.  Since 1964, only 849 individuals have been selected as White House Fellows, and the rigorous selection process was no different this year.  Only 15 fellows were selected out of about 4,000 applicants, and Cobarrubias is one of only two Texans selected this year.

“The fellowship is designed to provide direct access to established leaders in our government as well as an opportunity to learn the intricacies of government operations,” Cobarrubias said.

A physician assistant, Cobarrubias began her career at Harlingen Medical Center Emergency Room when the COVID-19 pandemic struck the RGV community.  Upon transferring to the COVID-19 Alternative Care Hospital Site in El Paso, Texas, Cobarrubias was trained to infuse monoclonal antibodies to COVID-19 patients.  As the COVID numbers increased for the second time in the RGV, Cobarrubias transferred back to Harlingen and ultimately supervised about 10,000 infusions.

“It is not a secret the Valley has continuously dealt with deficiencies in healthcare resources, personnel etc., but these inadequacies were really apparent during my COVID work,” she said.  “We are a Valley full of resilient people who ‘figure it out’ and I’m proud of our strength, but I want a home with better resources etc.”

She expressed gratitude to Cameron County officials, the healthcare professionals of the RGV, her business partner, Dr. Michael Muniz, PharmD, the infusion center staff, and her family and friends.

As a White House Fellow, Cobarrubias is currently placed at the Department of Health & Human Services and the Office of the First Lady focusing on Cancer Moonshot.

Cobarrubias says her main goal is to highlight the people of the Rio Grande Valley any opportunity she gets.  “I thank God for giving me many life experiences as well as family and friends in almost every industry.  It is my hope that I can bring these perspectives to the people making the decisions that affect so many.”

Cobarrubias attended HCISD schools from elementary school to high school.  She later served as an elementary school teacher at Ben Milam Elementary and Stuart Place Elementary.

The Class of 2022-2023 White House Fellows represent a broad cross-section of professions, including individuals from the private sector, local government, academia, the non-profit sector, medicine, law, and the armed forces.

Cobarrubias is the first woman from the Rio Grande Valley and the first physician assistant to be selected as a White House Fellow.