PRIME Masters

 

​EKENE AKABIKE

Hometown: Chino, CA
In progress - Master of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University 
My desire to pursue a career in medicine stems largely from my identity as a Nigerian American. I was born and raised in the US, but have a lot of family located in Nigeria. I've been back to Nigeria various times and enjoy every moment that I'm there. Because of these visits, I've seen and experienced firsthand how a lack of resources can greatly influence the type of health care people are able to receive. These visits have also shown me just how resilient a community can be and how that resiliency can be used to be resourceful in situations requiring making the best out of what one is given. These experiences helped influence my desire to join the field of medicine to assist those in need, including at a community/global level in order to work with communities to further grow their ability to be resilient and thrive despite lacking key resources. In order to be the type of physician I was envisioning, I knew I wanted to do a duel degree of MD and Master’s. When I was looking at schools to apply to, I happened to come across UCSD PRIME. Based off of the program’s mission and curriculum, I felt that this was the right fit for me. It was just an added bonus that one of the PRIME student profiles I read when I first learned about the program was similar to the goals I was trying to accomplish myself. It reaffirmed that this program is equipping their students with tools they can use to enact the change needed to better our society. (PS: If you’re curious which profile I read when I applied, it was 2013 PRIME Cohort’s Kelechi A.)
 

Betial Asmerom

Hometown: Oakland, CA
In progress, Master of Public Health, UC Berkeley
I choose UCSD PRIME-HEq for the community. I knew medical school would have its challenges, so it was important for me to be surrounded by medical students, staff, and faculty who centered health equity work in everything they did. My goal is to be a physician who advocates for their patients and champions policies and practices that promote equity for BIPOC patients. I knew this wasn't something I'd have to explain to my PRIME-HEq family, and that they would be there to provide the opportunities and mentorship to reach these goals and hold me accountable.

  

Gabrielle cahill

 Hometown: Palo Alto, CA
 Master of Public Health, Harvard University


I chose UCSD PRIME-HEq because working to combat health disparities is something I want to do throughout my medical career, and this program is an ideal way to discover how best to do so. In PRIME I have had the opportunity not only to learn about a wealth of disparities and social determinants of health, but also to begin to address them and engage in finding solutions. I love to travel, speak different languages, and learn about new cultures. I also believe in health policy as the primary effector of widespread change to limit health disparities. I know that PRIME will help me to combine these interests throughout my medical career -- through our courses, by being surrounded by like-minded individuals who also believe in the importance of meeting the needs of the underserved, and with the help of our amazing mentors who are living this type of career every day.
  

Jonathan CruZ

Hometown: Oakland, CA
In progress - Master of Public Health, Harvard University


I was born and raised in Connecticut to a Puerto Rican father and Colombian mother. Growing up in a diverse population, I never questioned the normalcy of my community - hard working, first-generation Americans who sacrificed their lives for their children to have a better future despite their own hardships. After beginning college at Brown, I soon found out that my story was relatively unique - that guaranteed access to education and health was reserved for some, but definitely not all. The population of other first-generation, Latino, LGBTQ+ college students were minimal - yet we all faced significant struggles on our journey that our peers never had to face. These challenges persisted into medicine. I began to learn just how ingrained and systemic disparities are - that race, class, sex, orientation, and immigration status are completely intertwined with health outcomes. I knew wanted to work with the urban underserved and needed a medical school to support me in that endeavor. PRIME-HEq called to me because of the community that centralized around the elimination of health disparities. We are all called to PRIME largely to work with the communities from which we come. We are group of people who put in the work, time, and dedication to be on the forefront of promoting change through diversity initiatives. I am confident that after my training I will have the support of an extended family throughout California united by a central mission.

  

Jessica Dominguez

Hometown: Wasco, CA
In progress, Master of Public Health, UC San Diego


I grew up in California's San Joaquin Valley in a predominant Spanish-speaking and farm working rural community. As a first-generation Mexican immigrant from a low-income family, there were things I was unaware of until I left my small town to go to college at UC Berkeley. I realized that I came from an underserved background and gained an understanding of how various health disparities and barriers in the healthcare system have influenced health outcomes in my family and community. My background coupled with my passion in medicine served as my main motivators to pursue a career in medicine. I chose to be part of the UCSD Prime-HEq program because I am very passionate and committed to serving underserved communities. Through PRIME, I believe I can become equipped with the training and skills I need to become a leader and advocate not only for Spanish-speaking farm working communities, but for all communities in need.
  

ARMANDO GaLLEGOS

Hometown: Chula Vista, CA
In progress, Master of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University


When I reflect on why I chose PRIME-HEq, I think about the many factors that drew me to UCSD for medical school. The location is one I have grown to know and love for many years. The mission of our program is integral to my conduct as a medical student and my career ambitions. The community at UC San Diego is unlike any other and I am proud to be a part of it.  San Diego has been my home for over 25 years. I was happy to stay near my family and friends after graduating from college, which happened to be at UCSD! I took my acceptance into the PRIME-HEq program as a message to stay near my home community. I take the opportunity to learn what medicine looks like in San Diego during my undergraduate medical education.

I plan to improve the health of my community and for many communities across our Nation. My ambition is to ensure that universal healthcare is put in place by the next century in the United States. The PRIME-HEq program prepares me for those ambitions. We are taught real world applications of public health interventions and are encouraged to give back to the San Diego community as developing leaders.  The most important reason why I chose the PRIME-HEq program is because of community. My cohort is comprised of the most amazing individuals that I have met in a long time. We wish to address health inequity in different ways, but see the same endpoint. Health equity is important. The PRIME program is one example of how we as a medical community will push to achieve it.  Before coming to medical school, I was a volunteer coordinator for the Linda Vista Health Fair, a monthly event that provided free blood glucose and cholesterol screenings to the Linda Vista community of San Diego. I was also a research assistant in the department of Cardiology at UCSD Health where I assisted in clinical research on cardiac rehabilitation. The two experiences grew my passion for medicine and to become a physician leader for the future.

  

Kevin HuyHN

Hometown: San Diego, CA
In progress, Master of Business Administration, UC San Diego



As I was born into an immigrant family of manual-laboring parents who worked odd hours, I was mostly raised by my grandmother. An honest woman who gave what little she had to my upbringing, she was my second mother and my main source of values. Unfortunately, most of my other memories of her involve suffering from inadequately managed chronic pain which, over time, tampered with both her physical and emotional health. Language and cultural barriers limited the quality of care she received from her medical providers. Equally ineffective were the decades of opioid prescriptions which she took for her unresolved physical pains, pills which may have been held to too high of expectations. From an early age, I began to recognize that various social determinants of health were actually at play, driving the physical pain, opioid dependency, and mental throes which ransacked her quality of life. Thus, I promised my grandmother that I would dedicate my career to partnering with patients to reduce their burden of such health detractors. 

Life decided to take me on a blessed and less common path to medicine. The result of curiously uncovering more about the socioeconomic constructs impeding healthcare delivery, several business world jaunts have been formative in pushing me to medicine. At the venture philanthropy group, the GreenLight Fund, I analyzed pockets of lacking maternal mental health coverage in the San Francisco Bay Area with the goal of expanding specialized health providers to fill those voids. At the global strategy consultancy, L.E.K Consulting, I partook in the design of an interdisciplinary pain management strategy, through which one of the nation’s marquee health systems began to address the prescription opioid abuse and misuse epidemic ravaging their multi-state patient population. Then, I founded my own investment fund to dive deeper into the intricacies of American capitalism. Altogether, these experiences of working with preeminent scholars and physicians, as well as prominent healthcare and financial systems, have placed me right up against the threshold of my training today. The education and training from PRIME-HEq provide another tool that will help me unveil more of the black boxes in American healthcare that currently prevent underserved patients, like my own grandmother was, from being equitably served.

  

Souma Kundu

Hometown: San Jose, CA
In progress, Master of Public Health, UC Berkeley



I chose PRIME because my interest in medicine stems primarily from my interest in patient empowerment - increasing peoples' understanding of their bodies and their diseases to feel ownership over the decisions we made together about their health. I recognize that the relationship that many communities, particularly migrant, marginalized, or otherwise under-resourced from historic systemic violence, have with the health care system, is fraught with a complicated history of exclusion and mistreatment. Our current system does not distribute resources equitably or recognize its own contributions to individuals feeling disempowered and afraid to seek care. As a PRIME student, I wanted to have the space, community, and dedicated time to continue to educate myself to be the best equipped physician to care for patients who don't fit the mold of white heteronormative male patients and learn how to support and promote increasing diversity amongst our peers and future colleagues.
  

AUSTIN Marshall

Hometown: San Diego, CA
In progress, Master of Public Health, Harvard University


I chose PRIME because I wanted to be surrounded and inspired by a cohort of people who are fighting for the same things I am- for health equity, for social justice, and for systemic change in our healthcare systems. My past clinical work serving the LGBTQ community through the Berkeley Free Clinic as well as my time addressing mental health issues as a Resident Assistant influenced my decision to pursue medicine specifically through the PRIME-HEq program.
  

Jason Nunez


In progress, Master of Public Health, San Diego State University



  

David Rosas


In progress, Master in Business Administration, UC Berkeley