Dr. Jocelyn H. Bruce
Recipient: Gabriela Silang Award in Leadership
Unmatched Prowess of Dr. Jocelyn H. Bruce
By Nelia Dingcong Bernabe
To say that this awardee is busy is an understate ment, hands down. Busy would not even begin to describe this tireless doctor who seems to take on everything in the name of helping others. She is a doctor after all, you’ll say, but she is really superwoman with matching superpowers and a big heart.
Dr. Jocelyn Holgado Bruce is a professor of medicine (Pathology) at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; her research, teaching and hospital service deal mostly with nervous system disorders and pediatric pathology. She is a neuropathologist at the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida; and she is the founding president and current chairwoman of the National Alliance to Nurture the Aged and the Youth (NANAY), a community-based organization established in 1994 to provide supportive services to the elders and youth.
Dr. Bruce formally opened the NANAY Community Center in North Miami, Florida over nine years ago. It now offers geriatric counseling, transport, soft exercises, educational workshops, arts and crafts, socialization, health support, early intervention, home visits, caregiver support, intergenerational programs that combine youth mentorship with service to elders, computer classes to more than 500 seniors, financial literacy and after-school computer access for youth.
“The supportive services that we do at the Center can help improve the life of elders, maintain health, and lead to self-sufficiency and homeownership,” she said. Through the organization’s nonprofit affiliate, NANAY Health Center, Inc., Dr. Bruce leads professional volunteers in providing counseling, periodic medical consultations, immunizations, health forums, workshops and regular health screening. Its other nonprofit affiliate, NANAY Housing Resource Center, provides homebuyer education, housing counseling, government subsidy assistance to first-time homebuyers and foreclosure intervention program.
She considers doing work for NANAY very rewarding. “It gives me the opportunity to help people in need and share whatever resource, ideas or input I may have to benefit the community,” she said.
Through the years, Dr. Bruce has founded and acted as chairwoman of many different community organizations whose goals run the gamut, from helping the victims of Mt. Pinatubo through the Philippine Charities Foundation, to uniting 20 Filipino – American organizations in her area through the Philippine American Federation of South Florida, to encouraging cultural diversity by working on issues affecting the different communities through the Miami-Dade Asian Pacific American Community Partnership. The latter was formed with 10 other local organizations consisting of Filipino, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Japanese and Ismaili Muslim and was later expanded to include Caribbean and Hispanic communities.
She chaired Region 4 of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) for three years and pioneered the first NaFFAA Southern Regional Convention in West Palm Beach in March 1999, that was attended by Filipino-American leaders from Florida, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Alabama and Georgia. She currently sits as a board member of the Florida Minority Coalition for Revitalizing Community (FMCRC), an advocacy group that identifies market-based growth opportunities in minority communities through research, education, and policy development.
Dr. Bruce is the founding president and current chairwoman of the Advocates for Children and Elders (ACE) International – Philippines (ACE-IPI). This organization has successfully lobbied for the amendment of the Philippine Juvenile Justice Bill to protect children from being incarcerated with adult prisoners. It also provides support services to children in the Philippines who are in conflict with the law.
As ACE-IPI Board Chair, she supports the activities of two regional chapters, NCR and Cagayan de Oro, where local volunteers provide periodic check ups, weekly art lessons, computer classes and values formation to at-risk children. ACE-IPI has also partnered with KIWANIS in launching a feeding program for malnourished children in Cagayan de Oro.
“My involvement with other organizations enabled me to meet people, expand my network and learn new ideas that I could use to strategically plan for NANAY’s future,” she said. “The Filipino American community is enriched by everything we do at NANAY, through the positive image that we create as we endeavor to serve others.”
Her strings of awards attest to her deep-rooted hold on the communities that she has helped. She received the Women of Impact Award in Miami in March of this year, she was honored as one of 100 Most Influential Filipinos in the U.S, in 2007, she received the Twenty Outstanding Filipinos in America (TOFA) Award in 2007, a community service award from the United Chinese Association of Florida in 2005, the Most Outstanding Alumnus in Community Service award from the U.S.T. Medical Alumni Association of America and a community service award from Filipinas Magazine in 2002.
In 2000, she received the In the Company of Women community service award from the Miami Dade Commission and the Outstanding Community Leader Award from the Miami-Dade Asian American Advisory Board.
This mother to three children – Christine, Edgar and Christopher James – believes that everything she has and everything she owns is from the Lord and for the Lord. She considers Mother Teresa her role model and singles out “you only live once” as her favorite quote.
Dr. Bruce, daughter of Jacinta Holgado and Marcelo Bruce of Taal, Batangas, Philippines, sees herself as an adviser to NANAY and other local community organizations in the future. This Manila-born doctor and author dreams of a place and time when she can relax and look back to see how she has helped change people’s lives for the better.
Even those with superpowers deserve some downtime. This particular super-doctor with her unmatched prowess certainly deserves some rest.