UCSD and Rady Children’s Hospital Pediatrics Diversity Collaborative

Mission Statement

The UCSD Pediatric Residency Program is committed to building a diverse workforce and to promoting a culture of antiracism and inclusion in medicine. As such, our program strives to recruit trainees from diverse, traditionally underrepresented backgrounds who are passionate about issues of health equity, advocacy, and social justice. Through these efforts, our program aims to close knowledge gaps about racial health disparities, equip residents with the tools to address medical injustices, and provide better care to the patients and communities of San Diego.

Our resident-led Diversity Collaborative, in partnership with Dr. Atim Ekpenyong (Associate Program Director for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion), is dedicated to the realization of this mission. The Collaborative is a diverse group of individuals, identifying both as URiM and allies, who work to integrate principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout every aspect of the residency – from recruitment practices to trainee education to program culture and beyond. Our residents are passionate in their devotion to these goals and leave residency well-equipped to address health disparities in the community and to become Pediatric leaders in spaces of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Goals of the Diversity Collaborative

  • Promote and model diversity and inclusion within our program – one that is explicitly antiracist at its foundation.
  • Empower trainees and faculty to address health disparities, accelerate health equity, and mitigate the health impacts of structural racism in the communities we serve.
  • Recruit residents that reflect the diversity of our patient population and share the values of the Diversity Collaborative.
  • Provide wellness resources, peer support and mentorship to residents who identify as URiM or are from other underrepresented backgrounds.
  • Form community ties and advocate for our patients at the hospital, community, and national levels.

What We Do

1. Recruitment: The Collaborative actively participates in all stages of resident recruitment. During the interview season, we host a series of virtual diversity interview days, faculty mixers, and applicant socials. We are dedicated to recruiting individuals of diverse races, ethnicities, nationalities, gender identities, sexual orientations, socioeconomic backgrounds, and lived experiences. Our goal is to build a team of individuals who are passionate about health equity and whose diversity reflects that of our patient populations in San Diego, such that we can serve our communities better.

2. Education: In addition to the structured DEI education built into the residency curriculum, the Collaborative provides additional educational opportunities throughout the year, including:

  • Health Equity Grand Rounds: Since 2021, residents of the Diversity Collaborative have led Health Equity Rounds, an annual case-based grand rounds lecture which highlights themes of health equity and medical injustice. Working alongside an interdisciplinary team including faculty, nurses, and social workers, residents present to the entire Department of Pediatrics and utilize this platform to bring health equity discourse into the academic setting. The Health Equity Rounds curriculum aims to provide trainees and faculty with the tools to recognize, confront, and mitigate the implicit and institutional biases that contribute to inequities within the healthcare system. Past topics have included:
    • Clinical outcomes in sickle cell disease viewed through a racial equity len
    • Influences on the immigrant health experience at Rady Children's

  • Journal Club: Our journal clubs are an ongoing group discussion series led by Diversity Collaborative residents and hosted by faculty members in their homes. The discussions center around thought-provoking articles which are selected to highlight specific issues of racial, social, and economic health inequity. These events provide a space for residents to not only discuss issues pertaining to health equity, but also to build community and to engage with faculty in an open and allied environment.

3. Advocacy: Our residents are active in advocacy spaces and are passionate about relevant issues in pediatric health, such as: the gun violence epidemic, obesity & nutritional health, and reproductive health. Residents actively participate in local rallies and community gatherings to demonstrate their dedication to these issues. Residents are also active in the local AAP chapter and work closely with the office of government relations at Rady Children’s to promote progressive pediatric public health policies. Residents are also able to develop their advocacy skills through the Community Pediatrics and Advocacy rotations, which are currently undergoing curricular expansion.

4. Promoting Wellness, Community, & Mentorship: The Diversity Collaborative also serves as a space for residents to build community and find support throughout residency. The Collaborative hosts a welcome social at the beginning of the academic year for all new interns, where we have the pleasure of meeting and bonding with our co-residents, as well as smaller socials throughout the year to provide peer support. Additionally, Dr. Ekpenyong spearheads the URiM mentorship program, which pairs URiM pediatrics residents with “families” of URiM medical students, fellows, and faculty to provide an additional source of longitudinal support and mentorship throughout residency.

Visiting Senior Student Scholarship Program

Our program is pleased to offer visiting rotation funding opportunities for MS4 students who identify as URiM and/or come from an economically disadvantaged background. Students may apply for up to $2,000 of funding, which can be used towards alleviating the financial burden of an away rotation. Eligible elective rotations include: Academic General Pediatrics, Adolescent Medicine, Allergy-Immunology, Cardiology, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, Heme/Oncology, Infectious Disease, Nephrology, and Pulmonology. For more information, visit the following link: [Visiting Scholarship Program for Department of Pediatrics]

Below is a list of all the Diversity Collaborative residents, both past and present. Please email us if you have any questions. We look forward to hearing from you!

Atim Ekpenyong, MD (Associate Program Director for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion)
Hometown: Calabar, Nigeria 
Medical School: College of Medicine, University of Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria 
Interests: Antiracism in GME, Ultrasound,swimming,cycling,reading, traveling
Email address: auya@ucsd.edu

Michelle Keyser (Med-Peds PGY-4)
Hometown: Danville, CA
College: UC Berkeley
Medical School: UC San Diego
Interests: tennis, Formula 1, gardening, hiking/camping
Email address: mkeyser@health.ucsd.edu

Priyanka Patel (PGY-4)
Hometown: Upland, CA
College: UC San Diego
Medical School: UC San Diego
Focuses within the Collab: community initiatives, immigrant health, resident 
Hobbies: running, hiking, cooking
Email address: p1patel@health.ucsd.edu

Jessica Erlich (PGY-3)
Hometown: Hillsborough, CA
College: Washington University in St. Louis
Medical School: University of California San Diego
Interests: fitness, gardening/indoor plantkeeping, longboarding, skating, and painting
Email address: jerlich@health.ucsd.edu

Mandeep Bajwa (PGY-3)
Hometown: Yuba City, CA
College: UC San Diego
Medical School: UC San Diego
Interests within the Collab: migrant health, global health, medical education
Interests: video games, soccer, skim boarding, dogs, food
Email address: mbajwa@health.ucsd.edu

Jedidiah "Jed" Bell (PGY-3)
Hometown: Harare, Zimbabwe
College: Calvin University 
Medical School: Wayne State University 
Interests within the Collab: migrant health, global health
Interests: squash, camping, worm composting, cycling, hiking
Email address: jdbell@health.ucsd.edu

Heriberto "Eddie" Martinez (PGY-2)
Hometown: San Diego
College: UCLA
Medical School: Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara
Background: Latino/Hispanic, international medical school experience
Interests within the Collab: advocating for underrepresented minorities, 
medical student mentorship
Hobbies: fitness, fishing, soccer, hiking
Email address: h3martinez@health.ucsd.edu

Kelly Robinson (PGY-2)
Hometown: Carson, CA
College: University of Southern California
Medical School: UCSF
Focuses within the Collab: Diversity in the medical workforce, youth health disparities
Hobbies: eating delicious food & ice cream, relaxing at the beach, dancing
Email address: k5robinson@health.ucsd.edu

Daanish Unwalla (PGY-2)
Hometown: San Ramon, CA
College: UCSD
Medical school: California Northstate University College of Medicine 
Interests within the Collab: understanding how to provide comprehensive 
and culturally appropriate care to patients of diverse backgrounds
Hobbies: trying new restaurants, live music/concerts, yoga, exploring the 
California coast
Email: daunwalla@health.ucsd.edu

Natalie Rodriguez (PGY-2)
Hometown: Born in Arequipa, Peru. Spent most of my life in Kansas City, MO
College: University of Missouri Kansas City
Medical School: University of Missouri - Columbia
Background: Latina, immigrant, 1st generation female high school graduate,
1st generation college student
Interests in Diversity: serving in underserved and Latino populations, 
addressing issues that arise from health literacy, allyship in medical education, 
improving recruitment and retention of URiM medical trainees and faculty
Other Interests: global health, surfing, football, concerts, binging Netflix
Email: narodriguez@health.ucsd.edu

Uju Nwosu (PGY-2)
Hometown: Calgary, AB, Canada and Abuja, Nigeria
College: Harvard University
Medical School: Keck USC School of Medicine:
Interests within the Collab: underserved medicine, medical education, recruitment, mentorship
Hobbies: cooking/baking/dining out, game nights, live music, being a plant mom

Alumni Section

Stephanie "Steph" Schmitt (Class of 2022)

Marisela Cardenas (Class of 2022)

​​Eileen Chen (Class of 2022)

​Emily Georges (Class of 2022)


Varsha Gupta (Class of 2022)

​Ashley Hamel (Class of 2022)

Pooja Jaeel (Class of 2021)
Adult Hospitalist/Primary Care Pediatrics

Hannah Oppenheim (Class of 2021)
Child Neurology Resident
University of California, San Diego

Anthony Proia (Class of 2021)
Primary Care Pediatrician and Urgent-ologist
Kaiser Permanente in San Diego

Kimmy Vuong (Class of 2021)
Pediatric Nephrology Fellow
Baylor Texas Children's Hospital

Maggie Kozman (Class of 2020, Co-Founder)
Med/Peds Hospitalist at Harbor-UCLA
Assistant Clinical Professor at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Crystal Doan Stephens (Class of 2019, Co-Founder)
Primary Care Pediatrician
San Diego Family Care Mid City Pediatrics

David Balyozian (Class of 2020)
PGY2 Psychiatry
University of Southern California in Los Angeles

Aimee Anselm (Class of 2019)
Primary Care Pediatrician and Urgent-ologist
Kaiser Permanente in San Diego

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