Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Interests: Medicine-Pediatrics; adolescent reproductive health; maternal, newborn and child health; Global public health research; underserved and minority populations
Medical School Year: Fourth-year medical student
When choosing a medical school, I sought a training environment that exhibited a strong sense of comradery, primarily served underserved patients, celebrated engagement in the local community, and that would allow me the freedom to explore my diverse interests in clinical medicine and global health research. By coming to Keck School of Medicine of USC, I felt I not only chose a school with these qualities but also had a unique opportunity to give back to the diverse communities that are an intrinsic part of my family. My mother and grandmother immigrated to the Echo Park area from Taiwan in the 1980s; my paternal grandfather immigrated from Sonora, Mexico and grew up in the Boyle Heights neighborhood surrounding Los Angeles County+USC.
Throughout my journey, the Keck School has exceeded my expectations in each of these areas. I made some of my best and lifelong friends during medical school – those I feel honored to stand alongside throughout my career. LAC+USC is a challenging yet thrilling environment to train in; there is no other hospital system quite like it that sets an early precedent for demonstrating responsibility and agency in patient care. Many of our patients are uninsured, live below the poverty line or are recent immigrants; most face inordinate challenges in navigating the health care system. Learning from our patients and serving as their advocate is among the most rewarding qualities of being a Keck student. As a second-year student, I was awarded an Albert Schweitzer Fellowship that allowed me to start an advanced care planning program for elderly patients at LAC+USC. This experience connected me to a group of like-minded peers, both within and outside of the Keck community.
When I wanted to develop skills in global public health research to effect population-level change, my mentors at the Keck School were very supportive in my pursuit of MPH training in Maternal and Child Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I focused on global adolescent reproductive health research in India, Nepal, Rwanda and, currently, Kenya. I applied for an additional year of funding for global health research, and my mentors at the Keck School expressed ongoing support. For the past year, I’ve been working as a United States Agency for International Development–supported research fellow at the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare and FHI 360 in Eldoret, Kenya, on a community health volunteer-led health education and microfinance program that seeks to improve maternal and newborn health outcomes among pregnant and parenting adolescents. These experiences have not only allowed me to clarify my career goals but have set me on an exciting path towards accomplishing them.
When I was choosing a medical school, I could not have imagined the path that lay before me or where these experiences would lead me. Thanks to the incredible support of my friends and mentors at the Keck School, the freedom to embrace a nontraditional path and the opportunity to learn from our patients at LAC+USC, I’ve been able to not only engage in my local community but also to expand my reach far beyond borders I could have never possibly imagined.