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.
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.
VIVIAN ANIGBOGU Hometown: Lake Elsinore, CA
Masters in Education, Community Health Nutrition, Columbia University
After residency, I plan to work with underserved communities as a physician and a leader in public health. Coming from an immigrant family, I have personally endured some of the challenges—such as limited access to preventative healthcare—that members of these communities also face. Thus, I plan to split my time between working in a hospital setting and organizing community programs to educate patients and inspire them to prioritize their physical and mental health. Additionally, I hope to work with policymakers in order to bring about macro-level changes which will make healthcare more accessible and target health disparities. Through UCSD PRIME-HEq, I receive training beyond the traditional medical school curriculum and participate in longitudinal community outreach experiences which will ultimately prepare me to serve a variety of underserved communities.
Masters in Public Health, Johns Hopkins University
Hometown: Pico Rivera, CA
Masters of Science in Healthcare Management, Johns Hopkins University
I choose UCSD PRIME HE-q due to amazing leadership and opportunities that the program offers. The previous leadership, Dr. Linda Willies-Jacobo, and the current leadership with Dr. Luis Castellano and Katherine Garcia support their students dreams and ideas. Also, UCSD PRIME HE-q has an extensive alumni and mentor program in which previous students that have gone through medical school and residency give real world advice on how they navigated the journey of medicine.
Hometown: Sunnyvale, CA
Masters in Public Health, Columbia University
I am excited to be part of UCSD PRIME-Health Equity because it’s providing me with a space to learn how to advocate for justice along side a future in medicine. I studied Public Health at UC Berkeley and worked as a Medical Assistant for a private ENT practice in San Francisco during my gap year. I have a background in reproductive justice work and have always been interested in finding a role for myself at the intersections of social justice and healthcare. Beyond the incredibly valuable opportunities PRIME provides to learn about health disparities and gain the clinical skills to work with underserved patient populations, it also pushes me to envision my role in changing the institutions involved in healthcare provision and education. It has given me a supportive community of peers and mentors, who challenge me to think critically and validate my experiences while pushing me to become a better prepared physician. Through our PRIME program, I feel certain that we will become physicians who are well positioned to make an impact on the inequities around us, both within and outside of medicine.
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Masters in Urban Planning, University of Illinois -Chicago
I choose the PRIME program because of my experiences working alongside and learning from underserved communities. After finishing college, I had the privilege of living in Central America for six months, where I saw firsthand the effects of American foreign policy intervention and immigration policy on communities in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Southern Mexico. After returning to the US, I grew more interested in learning about the ways in which policy can affect people's lives, including their access to fundamental resources like healthcare, nutrition, and housing. To that end, I pursued a Master's in Health Systems and Public Policy at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. While there, I had the opportunity to conduct my dissertation fieldwork in Northeast India, where I evaluated barriers to healthcare access affecting individuals enrolled in Meghalaya State's social health insurance program. After finishing the dissertation and the Master's, I wanted to apply what I had learned to issues back home. Therefore, I returned to the States and completed a year of service with the National Health Corps of AmeriCorps as a Diabetes Education Coordinator in an underserved Federally Qualified Health Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My time in AmeriCorps, as well as my prior experiences with underserved communities both at home and abroad, have reinforced one thing: that the roots of disease often extend far beyond the body. I have learned that viruses may propagate illness just as polluted neighborhoods, food deserts, or un-walkable cities can. Moreover, I have realized that great inequalities in wealth, education, and healthcare access often breed those illness-promoting environments in the first place. That is what drew me to PRIME-HEq. I am convinced that the program will enable me to gain the knowledge, skills, and connections that will allow me to serve as a physician who strikes at the fundamental roots of disease in underserved communities, whether they lie deep within the body or permeated throughout broader society.
Masters in Business Administration, UCSD Rady School of Management
Masters in Education, Harvard University
Hometown: Escondido, CA
Masters in Advance Science, Healthcare Leadership, UCSD
Having been raised in the conditions that I now seek to improve, it was very easy for me to commit to a program who's focus is health equity and developing leaders that are passionate about these issues. Through various life experiences, it became apparent that a physician cannot dissociate a person's health from external factors of their life like their socioeconomic status, race, education levels, etc. These are all inherently intertwined. This was exemplified when my dad developed Type II Diabetes, yet refused to receive care because not only did he lack health insurance, but he also had an enormous language barrier to overcome. I felt that at UCSD PRIME, examples like this would be common and they would challenge me to think more critically about how I can be an ally for certain patients. Lastly, I was drawn by the incredible staff that are extremely supportive about pursuing our passion. They always go above and beyond any help I could anticipate. It is one of the best decisions of my life and I am very tankful to be a part of this community.
Hometown: Arcadia, CA
Masters in Public Health, Columbia University
I chose UCSD PRIME-HEq because it aligns with my commitment to social justice and my desire to combat health disparities. PRIME-HEq has provided me with the foundation and platform to continue working with underserved populations while also equipping me with the skills and community necessary to undertake this endeavor. The flexibility to customize my experience in medical school under PRIME-HEq to my interests has connected me further with the tools and expertise to help dynamic populations. I have also been thankful for my time in the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health’s Accelerated MPH Program through the General Public Health track.