From Oakland to Vallejo, My desire to support my community of the East Bay Area has fueled my passion and pursuit of medicine. Growing up there I saw the impact of inequity on systems and how they served to limit the existence and potential of marginalized folks as well robbing everyone else of their contributions. After spending time as a case worker with my local public health department and with patients in clinic, I saw the need to address health inequity as central to enfranchising those who are marginalized and correcting systems beyond healthcare. I choose PRIME Health Equity (HEq) because I know it takes additional skills and competencies in addition to clinical training to sufficiently and sustainably heal patients and my community's needs as change agent in healthcare therefore I value the opportunity to get a master's degree in addition to my medical training. I also chose PRIME HEq so that I can partner with a network of mentors, colleagues, community stakeholders, and like-minded peers in the pursuit of supporting the health of my community and communities like mine everywhere.
Hometown: Pacolma, CA
It was immediately evident that UCSD PRIME-Heq is a program that aims to transform healthcare by nurturing the next generation of providers who are representative and culturally sensitive of the communities they serve. I hope to be a provider that advocates for the underserved, connects with the underrepresented, and investigates the issues plaguing these communities. My desire to pursue medicine and promote equity stems largely from my identity as a Mexican-American woman. As an undergrad at UC Berkeley, my most impactful experiences were spent serving communities for which I identified with. Volunteering for communities struggling with homelessness in Oakland and promoting health literacy for immigrant populations accessing healthcare in San Francisco, it became evident to me that health is not only impacted by biology, but by social and structural factors, as well. I chose this program because I am confident that PRIME-Heq will provide me with the resources to be a physician that promotes equity and dismantles barriers for the people I serve. With the skills I learn here, I hope to help rebuild trust in medicine and better provide for underserved communities.
Isabel De La Torre
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
I chose PRIME-HEq because I am passionate about the program’s mission to improve the quality of care for marginalized populations and address damaging health inequities by diversifying the physician pool and developing innovative models of research and clinical practice that better meet the needs of underserved communities. My combination of service, research, and clinical experiences with underserved populations drove my interest in PRIME-HEq. My work with trauma survivors, patients with schizophrenia, and Spanish speaking individuals led me to appreciate how both biomedical and psychosocial factors contribute to the health outcomes of individuals from underserved populations. It fostered my desire to provide compassionate holistic care for the most medically underserved to address damaging health inequities. On a personal level, my family’s experiences with immigration inculcated in me the value of compassion and an understanding of the power and privilege of a graduate education. Through their example, I know that my interest in medicine is enhanced by my passion for service. These experiences have reinforced my desire to leverage my bilingual Latine heritage to address issues of health equity that impact medically underserved communities, with a particular interest in mental health. I am honored to be a part of the PRIME-HEq family and am committed to utilizing this training to positively impact the health of underserved communities and promote health equity as a future physician.
Karyssa Domingo Hometown: Tucson, AZ
I was initially drawn to PRIME-HEq because my experience with underserved communities motivated me to work towards equity in healthcare, on individual and systemic levels. It was clear to me that the PRIME program would provide the support I need to become a physician who advocates for my patients and serves my community as best I can. Working as an after-school teacher for underprivileged children was a rewarding entrance into the field of health education, and I aim to continue getting involved in my community by making health care and health education more accessible. The support provided by my PRIME cohort peers, mentors, and advisors gives me the confidence that we will all finish medical school with the knowledge and resources needed to improve health equity in San Diego and beyond.
Hometown: Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
At the age of 15, I decided to moved to San Diego, CA. Since then, this city has impacted me and helped me greatly. The San Diego community welcomed me when I most needed it. Now, I want to give back to this community by serving and understanding the underserved communities of San Diego. I decided to apply to the UCSD PRIME-HEq program, because of it's mission and curriculum that align with my goals as a future physician. I knew that this program was going to be an opportunity to surround myself with mentors and classmates that share the same passion for Health Equity.
Carlos Garcia CabreraHometown: Rancho Cucamonga, CA
PRIME-Heq at UC San Diego promotes an education that marries primary care excellence with advocacy, leadership, and service to the underserved. I hope to pursue a master's degree in Public Health (MPH) while in the PRIME-Heq program to learn epidemiology, health disparity research methodology, and public health approaches to better serve my community and address the Social Determinants of Health plaguing today's culturally diverse communities. The education at the international leader UCSD School of Medicine program will shape my future practice as it will prepare me to address socioeconomic factors for every patient encounter; this includes the patient’s living situation, legal status, ability to afford their prescribed medications, and more. My MD/MPH education will position me for my future as a leader, advocate, and health-policy expert. The PRIME-HeQ program will empower me with the necessary training in Medicine and a Master’s in Public Health for my future work as a physician educator and advocate, bridging the health inequity gap in the Latinx, LGBTQIA, and underserved communities.
jesse garciaHometown: Colusa, CA
As a hot off the press 19-year-old EMT, I quickly came to realize that I was very unaware of the injustice that exists within our healthcare system. It wasn’t until responding to the Camp Fire catastrophe, in 2018, that I began to understand a physician's role in improving the human condition. The rest of my undergrad years focused on serving Butte County's marginalized communities. For years I helped run our county's only free clinic, assisting in the wellbeing and security of our unhoused, undocumented, and uninsured populations. As a caregiver for individuals with severe cerebral palsy, I had the unique opportunity to witness and listen firsthand to struggles that impact the disabled community. All of this fostered a curiosity to understand the underlying mechanisms that control our healthcare system. I wanted to attend a university that could offer me strong mentorship, but more importantly, a culture focused on making systemic change. The PRIME-HEq faculty and students are committed and set on tackling these systemic issues. It’s an honor to have their support and insight, and I’m excited to see what our cohort will accomplish as we advance in our professional careers.
Lauren Ibarra Hometown: Chino Hills, CA
As a member of UCSD PRIME-HEq I am eager to use my background in human-centered design and education to develop improved patient-provider communication systems for minority populations. My experience working at free clinics in Tijuana Progreso, Mexico, has taught me the importance of well-rounded healthcare. A patient’s livelihood operates in a system that extends beyond physical ailments. To address physical health, it is also important to look at their holistic experiences. PRIME-HEq is a perfect program to learn this equitable approach to medicine. After working as an Autism support coach at an elementary school, I began to realize how essential it is for providers to breakdown their perspectives and have an open collaboration with their patients. I wish to use design a method to redesign medical education and clinical spaces to make it more adaptive to the unique needs of the neurodiverse population. I believe equitable healthcare begins with collaboration and community-driven efforts.
Freddy martinezHometown: Irvine, CA
Being on the receiving end of the healthcare system as a minority has shown me the institutional shortcomings that exists towards those in my community. From a young age, I’ve always had a deep desire to help and care for others. Caring for those in my community comes with an enormous responsibility, but it is one which I gladly look forward to bear. Being a doctor is much more than just knowing the science behind the medicine; the interpersonal aspect between patient and physician is just as important. That is why I decided to take a non-traditional path and major in psychology and social behavior, so that I could learn how to best build rapport, communicate, and empathize with the patients I seek to serve. As a result, I sought to join a program that would equip me with the knowledge and confidence to provide equitable healthcare to those traditionally underserved by our current healthcare system. There is no better place for me to learn and prepare than within the PRIME-HEq family at the UCSD School of Medicine.
Hometown: Chula Vista, CA
What drew me to PRIME-HEq was its focus on community service and its mission toward eliminating health disparities. Growing up so close to the San Ysidro-Tijuana border was one factor that motivated me to want to work alongside underserved patients. My experiences volunteering for the UCSD Student-Run Free Clinic and working for San Ysidro Health further revealed to me the types of social and economic challenges that patients face when seeking medical care. I am excited to be part of a program that will enhance my understanding of health disparities and allow me to become a community-centered physician that provides culturally sensitive and empowering health care. I feel grateful to not only have the opportunity to study at UCSD SOM, but to do so in a supportive environment alongside PRIME-HEq faculty and students.
Luke Carmicheal Valmadrid
Hometown: Madison, WI
Through the arts and public health, I finally found my way to medicine. My experiences with the 8th Cohort of the First Wave Hip-Hop Scholars Program lovingly pushed me to listen, learn, and unlearn, directly leading to constant thought about the two disciplines I cared about, music and science, in the context of equity. My values sent me to my MPH in Health Equity at UNC-Chapel Hill, which solidified my desire to become someone who helps address both downstream health outcomes and upstream determinants of health. Today, I’m a first-year med student who is having a very first-year experience. But even just after two months, it’s hard to imagine a better environment to hold onto and nurture my values in the field of medicine than with the PRIME-HEq students and staff at UCSD.
Hometown: Long Beach, CA
I chose UCSD PRIME-HEq because I am passionate about equitable access to healthcare in marginalized populations. Moreover, the health of my community and other underserved communities is constantly threatened by social injustices and health inequities. My lived experiences and my public health related work in disadvantaged areas around Los Angeles County have shone a light on certain inequities of the system that I simply cannot ignore. I am acutely aware of how barriers to healthcare access contribute to poor health outcomes because I have had personal experiences with loss of health insurance and under-resourced local providers. As a member of a diverse racial and socioeconomic community, I also have a responsibility to become a physician who provides care in the context of social determinants of health. More importantly, I am pursuing medicine to be an advocate that moves the system toward improved health equity. Therefore, my commitment to combat health disparities is anchored in the fundamental rights of every individual; especially those who are disproportionately affected by our flawed social systems. I will strive to use my opportunities in UCSD PRIME-HEq to heal disadvantaged populations of more potent causes of disease such as racial, economic, and environmental injustices.
chukwunonyelum (noni) unobagha
Hometown: Syracuse, NY
When my parents journeyed to the U.S. from Nigeria, it was their hope to give their children the best lives possible, and so they taught me to live life limitlessly. I took those lessons to heart, and I chose to become a physician as a young child. I was always fascinated by the biology of the human body and the age-old art of healing. However, as I grew older, my passion was renewed as I began to notice the ever-apparent disparities in our healthcare system and the injustices felt personally by my family members. As an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, one of my most profound volunteering experiences was working as a coordinator in the pipeline program; we maintained a strong partnership between West Philadelphia schools and the Perelman School of Medicine, and I thoroughly enjoyed teaching, guiding, and encouraging students of color to pursue their passions in medicine and go on to effect change. In choosing to enroll in UCSD’s PRIME-Health Equity program, I was confident I would be given the opportunity to continue practicing purposeful community engagement and promoting equity. With a faculty so focused on the upward trajectory of all students and a diverse cohort full of dedicated and kind-hearted peers, I am certain I chose correctly. In the future, I hope to become a compassionate physician enmeshed within an underserved community, working with its own members to ameliorate health outcomes. I am extremely grateful to have been accepted into PRIME-Heq, and I wholeheartedly believe that the knowledge, skills, and resources afforded to me through this program will help my dreams become reality.