Hometown: San Pablo, California

From Oakland to Vallejo, my desire to support my East Bay area community has fueled my passion and pursuit of medicine. Growing up there, I saw the impact of inequalities on systems and how they served to limit the existence and potential of marginalized people while depriving others of their contributions. After spending time as a social worker with my local public health department and with patients in the clinic, I realized that the need to address health inequities was key to getting the vote to those who are marginalized and fix systems beyond health care. I chose PRIME Health Equity (HEq) because I know it takes additional skills and competencies in addition to clinical training to sufficiently and sustainably cure patients and the needs of my community as an agent of change in health care. So I appreciate the opportunity to get a master’s degree in addition to my medical training. I also chose PRIME HEq so I could partner with a network of like-minded mentors, colleagues, community advocates and peers to support the health of my community and communities like mine everywhere. in the world.


Hometown: San Fernando Valley, California

I chose PRIME-HEq because it has a mission and values ​​directly aligned with mine. Prior to entering medical school, my extracurricular activities worked almost exclusively with underserved communities, particularly the homeless, veterans, and Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders. San Diego is home to a diverse community and holds the second largest population of NHPIs in the contiguous United States. My work with the NHPI community here included free health screenings, public health education and research, all supported by the medical school. After being accepted into medical school and the PRIME program at UCSD, I was grateful to be able to pursue my work in a program that would foster my values, provide me with additional skills, and open up new opportunities, such as furthering my education in a master’s degree. program.


Hometown: Chula Vista, California

Cheyenne Nicole Mercier

Lily Nguyen

Hometown: Rosemead, California

From weekend outreach activities to free trips to clinics across the southern border, my interactions with people in underserved communities have enriched my understanding of the harmful consequences of health disparities. Each experience motivated me more to pursue a career path that would better prepare me to serve these neglected communities. I think PRIME-HEq is the best program for me to have the opportunity to get impactful mentorship and deepen my understanding of the upstream factors affecting health outcomes. Through the program’s support, I hope to proactively find solutions to target disparities and remove barriers for underserved communities. Through clinical immersion and community engagement, I hope to learn how to better deliver higher quality care, connect with underserved people, and listen to their specific needs. With the strong culture of mentorship and encouragement here, I know I will be challenged to reach my full potential to give as a citizen, educator, and physician.

Brittney OBANOR

Hometown: Fresno, California

Throughout junior high, I worked as a preschool teacher at HeadStart schools. Working with students and their families over the four years not only exposed me to the academic barriers faced by people from disadvantaged backgrounds, but also the health barriers. My time in the community showed me how often entrenched and systemic disparities are and how they intertwine with medical outcomes. Through this experience, and others, I knew I wanted my work as a physician to focus on addressing and eliminating underlying health inequities. I chose UCSD PRIME-HEq because I fully believed this program would prepare me to be that type of doctor—well equipped to empower and advocate for the communities that need it most.

I couldn’t 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 made up of the most motivated and dedicated people I know, and it’s very refreshing to be around peers who view medicine and health care from a similar perspective to me.


Hometown: Gaithersburg, MD

I chose the PRIME-HEq program because I want to be a doctor who can do 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 have reinforced my desire to dedicate myself to a career in the promotion of health equity. I believe that PRIME-HEq would support me in this mission by providing me with medical training that combines theoretical knowledge, clinical practice and community partnership. Through this program, I am confident that I would develop the skills I need to become a better ally to patients, both on an individual and systemic level.


Gabrielle SHUMAN

Hometown: Santa Clarita, California

After learning how housing, access to food, and stress are directly linked to chronic disease in my public health classes, I knew these issues would always be close to my heart. I felt relieved that there was a subfield of science dedicated to uncovering the “why” behind health disparities, but pained to know that so many in our communities suffer from preventable difficulties. To me, PRIME-HEq represents a community of peers and mentors committed to tackling those same barriers. Within the School of Medicine, PRIME-HEq gave me a base from which to develop my passions and ensure that health justice remains a central part of my medical education. I feel lucky to have such a community and look forward to fighting together for health equity.


Hometown: Santa Barbara, California

The focus on health equity made joining PRIME-HEq an obvious choice for me. By integrating an advanced degree into medical education, PRIME equips students with the tools to build careers as physician advocates, educators, and leaders. I believe pursuing a career in primary care will balance my intellectual curiosity with my passion for providing longitudinal, person-centered care to people with cross-vulnerabilities. I aspire not only to care for the patient in front of me, but also to fight for the improvement of the social and environmental conditions contributing to their state of ill health. Although I have not yet chosen between a Masters in Public Health and a Masters in Public Policy, I know that I will leave PRIME-HEq better able to serve my community.



Hometown: Flagtaff, AZ

Living in northern Arizona as an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, I grew up witnessing a dichotomy in health status on and off tribal lands. Even from a young age, I noticed that certain illnesses and health conditions seemed to be more prevalent among my Native American friends and family. Also, I saw that there was a stark contrast in infrastructure between my home town and the tribal lands just an hour and a half away. Subconsciously, I must have known that these conditions were related to the poorer overall health of my Native American relationships, and more than 15 years later, I feel grateful to be a member of PRIME-HEq because the program gives its students ways to recognize and address health disparities in marginalized communities. By joining PRIME-HEq, I feel I have taken a necessary step to learn how I can improve tribal health care by recognizing these infrastructural needs in addition to becoming a physician.

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