|I chose PRIME-HEq because it has a mission and values that are directly aligned with mine. My extracurriculars before entering medical school had been almost exclusively working with underserved communities, particularly the houseless, veterans, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders. San Diego is home to a diverse community, and holds the second largest population of NHPI in the contiguous United States. My work with the NHPI community here included free health screenings, education, and public health research, all supported by the medical school. After being accepted into the medical school and PRIME program at UCSD, I was grateful that I could continue my work under a program that would foster my values, provide me with additional skills, and open up new opportunities, like furthering my education in a master's program.|
Volunteering as a free clinic interpreter and working as a COVID-19 case investigator along the U.S./Mexico border revealed to me the urgent need for consistent and holistic health care services for marginalized populations in Southern California. I chose UCSD PRIME-HEq because I wanted to prioritize service during medical school and learn medicine through an environmental health lens. This year, my cohort of PRIME students at UCSD taught me that we don't have to wait until after medical school to make an impact. Through the student-run free clinic and other incredible organizations PRIME students are involved in, we can both learn medicine and serve our community. Furthermore, students and faculty in the PRIME program are a daily inspiration to me. Their commitment to alleviating the consequences of health disparities remind me that despite the challenges minoritized communities face, we are not alone in working towards change. I feel honored and excited to continue growing as a UCSD PRIME-HEq student.
CHEYENNE NICOLE MERCER
Hometown: Rosemead, CA
From weekend outreaches to free clinic trips across the southern border, my interactions with people in underserved communities have enriched my understanding of the detrimental consequences of health disparities. Each experience has motivated me further to pursue a career path that would better prepare me to serve these neglected communities. I feel that PRIME-HEq is the best-fit program for me to have the opportunities to gain impactful mentorship and deepen my understanding of the upstream factors affecting health outcomes. Through the support of the program, I hope to proactively find solutions to target disparities and remove obstacles for underserved communities. Through clinical immersion and community engagement, I hope to learn how to better provide improved quality care, connect with underserved individuals, and listen to their specific needs. With the strong culture of mentorship and encouragement here, I know I will be challenged to reach my fullest potential to give as a citizen, educator, and physician.
Hometown: Fresno, CA
Throughout undergrad, I worked as a preschool teacher in HeadStart schools. Working with the students and their families over the four years not only introduced me to the academic barriers that those from disadvantaged backgrounds face, but also the barriers to health. My time in the community exposed me to how established and systemic disparities often are, and how they intertwine with medical outcomes. Through this experience, as well as others, I knew that I wanted my work as a physician to be centered in addressing and eliminating underlying health inequities. I chose UCSD PRIME-HEq because I was fully confident that this program would prepare me to become this type of physician --- well equipped to empower and advocate for the communities that need it most.
I could not talk about PRIME without mentioning my classmates! The community that PRIME-HEq cultivates --- from my own cohort to the cohorts that came before me --- is very inspiring. This community is comprised of the most motivated/dedicated people I know, and it is very refreshing to be surrounded by peers who see medicine and healthcare from a similar lens as myself.
Hometown: Gaithersburg, MD
I chose the PRIME-HEq program because I want to be a physician who is capable of doing more to uplift the community around me. Growing up, I was raised by an immigrant mother who instilled in me the value of serving others. In college, I volunteered at the Berkeley Free Clinic, worked on affordable housing initiatives, and took courses on the socioeconomic and political roots of inequality in society. These experiences solidified my desire to dedicate myself to a career in advancing health equity. I believe that PRIME-HEq would support me in this mission by providing me with a medical education that combines theoretical knowledge, clinical practice, and community partnership. Through this program, I am confident I would develop the skills I need to become a better ally to patients on both an individual and systemic level.
Hometown: Santa Clarita, CA
After learning the ways in which housing, food access, and stress are directly related to chronic disease in my public health classes, I knew that these issues would forever be close to my heart. I felt relieved that there was a sub-field of science dedicated to uncovering the "why" behind health disparities, but pained to know that so many members of our communities suffer from preventable hardships. To me, PRIME-HEq represents a community of peers and mentors who are committed to fighting against those very barriers. Within the School of Medicine, PRIME-HEq has given me a home base from which to develop my passions and ensure that health justice remains a core component of my medical education. I feel fortunate to have such a community, and look forward to fighting for health equity together.
Hometown: Santa Barbara, CA
The emphasis on health equity made joining PRIME-HEq the obvious choice for me. By integrating an advanced degree into medical education, PRIME empowers students to equip themselves with the tools to build careers as physician advocates, educators, and leaders. I believe that pursuing a career in primary care will balance my intellectual curiosity with my passion for providing person-centered, longitudinal care to individuals with intersecting vulnerabilities. I aspire to not only treat the patient in front of me, but also to fight for the betterment of the social and environmental conditions contributing to their state of poor health. While I have yet to decide between a Master's in Public Health and a Master's in Public Policy, I know that I will leave PRIME-HEq better able to serve my community.
JULIA MACIAS WEILAND
YASMIN A. ZUCH
Hometown: Flagtaff, AZ
Living in Northern Arizona as an enrolled Navajo Nation member, I grew up witnessing a dichotomy in health status on and off Tribal land. Even from a young age, I noticed that certain diseases and health conditions seemed to be more prevalent amongst my Native American friends and family. Additionally, I saw that there was a stark contrast in infrastructure between my hometown and the Tribal lands only an hour and a half away. Subconsciously, I must have known that these conditions tied into the overall poorer health status of my Native American relations, and more than 15 years later, I find myself grateful for being a member of PRIME-HEq because the program equips its students to recognize and address health disparities in marginalized communities. Joining PRIME-HEq, I feel I have taken a necessary step in learning how I can better uplift Tribal healthcare by acknowledging these infrastructure needs in addition to becoming a physician.