Sebastián Martínez Valdivia

Reporter, KBIA

Sebastián Martínez Valdivia is a health reporter and documentary filmmaker who focuses on access to care in rural and immigrant communities. A native Spanish speaker and lifelong Missouri resident, Sebastián is interested in the often overlooked and under-covered world of immigrant life in the rural midwest. He has a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri and a master's degree in documentary journalism at the same institution. Aside from public health, his other interests include conservation, climate change and ecology.

Ways to Connect

Sebastián Martínez Valdivia / Side Effects Public Media

It’s the middle of summer but Harrisburg Middle School is a hive of activity. Between summer school classes and renovations, it’s a little chaotic for counselor Brett Rawlings, who just wrapped up his first year at the school.

Harrisburg is a town of fewer than 300 people, midway between St. Louis and Kansas City. But the school also serves the surrounding area, which is primarily farmland. As the K-8 counselor, Rawlings is responsible for some 400 students, and he deals with a range of issues.

Henry Domke / Photo Provided

It's humid spring morning in the woods of central Missouri and Henry Domke is lining up a shot. His target? The vibrant petals of a red buckeye bloom.

"I want to level it. Make sure it’s really sharp," Domke says as he adjusts his tripod and focuses in before snapping the photo. 

Sebastián Martínez Valdivia/Side Effects Public Media

At a pediatric clinic in Kirksville, Mo., a young boy is waiting in an exam room to be vaccinated. A nurse explains the shots to his mother, and Lisette Chibanvunya translates.

Credit Sebastián Martínez Valdivia/Side Effects Public Media

About 15 miles southwest of St. Louis is Fenton City Park. It’s pretty unremarkable, with picnic shelters, softball fields, and flags waving gently from a memorial to fallen soldiers. This is where Kevin Mullane sought refuge as he struggled with an opioid addiction.