When you were deciding where you would attend medical school, what was special about the Keck School of Medicine of USC that made you choose to come here? What are some enjoyable moments and/or important accomplishments that you have experienced while at KSOM of USC?


Photo of MD student Kayla JacksonKayla Jackson
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Undergrad: Spelman College, Atlanta, GA
Interests: Radiology, Pathology, Emergency medicine, Precision medicine, Women’s health, Increasing diversity in research and medicine
Medical School Year: Third year of PhD training (completed 2 years of medical training)

As an MD-PhD applicant, the decision of where I would train was tied to the quality of the medical and research education. Many of the institutions that I interviewed at provided opportunities to participate in rigorous research and the Keck School of Medicine was no exception. However, Keck distinguished itself in its commitment to community engagement, diversity, and equity.

When I arrived at Keck, faculty and staff made a point to emphasize that our institution existed to be of service to the greater Los Angeles community and especially to our underserved populations. This mission extends beyond the clinic, and I have enjoyed support in my endeavors to mentor elementary and high school students through my relationships with the Student National Medical Association and the Bravo Medical Magnet High School. Though medical school is not without its challenges, Keck has a robust network of academic and wellness resources, faculty support, and mentorship opportunities designed to help students manage the curriculum. I remain grateful that Keck connected me early on with students across program years who served as my confidantes and peer support system. I also cannot emphasize enough the range in thought, background, and life experience that the students at Keck represent. The community of students underscores the value that the administration sees in training a diverse set of physicians who can address a multitude of challenges facing our society today and in the future. It is exceedingly clear that Keck is committed to both its students and the patients it serves.

More than ever, it is important for medical institutions to affirm their efforts to provide comprehensive care to our most vulnerable community members. I am proud to be a member of an institution that is uncompromising in this regard. While I am confident that Keck is providing me with tools to become an excellent physician and scientist, I value that Keck shares my vision for a more just and equitable society.

Sabino Maldonado, MD, Class of 2023Sabino Maldonaldo, MD
 Los Lunas, New Mexico
Undergrad: New Mexico Tech
Interests: Oncology, OB/GYN, Underserved Communities, Increasing Representation of Minorities in Medicine
Medical School Year: Class 2023

Heritage and community service are two main reasons why I decided to become a Trojan. Growing up as a first generation American, my parents instilled within me two important values:  appreciation for my Latinx heritage and humility towards my privilege. With these two values in mind, I envisioned a career in medicine where I can finally take care of those underserved communities that I grew up around which taught me the resilience I know today. To my luck, Keck has become the avenue through which I will accomplish my own dream.

Being situated at the heart of East Los Angeles, Keck rises to the commitment of caring for the underrepresented populations in L.A. Keck takes a holistic approach to this commitment of care that extends beyond the clinic to various aspect of medicine, such as diversifying medicine and addressing community needs. My favorite part of being a Trojan has been having my own values align with Keck’s effort to care for underrepresented populations. I have enjoyed being a part of the Anti-Racism Task Force, where administration and students combat racism that exists within curriculum, admissions, community engagement and more.

I will never forget the fulfillment of working with my close queer peers and members of MedLamda to start the first Out List which has helped bring visibility to students and faculty who identify as LGBTQ+. I will always remember with high regard the various mentorship events for local elementary school children to college premeds in which I have been able to participate through LMSA (Latino Medical Student Association). If you are like me and hope to be an agent of change in medicine, then Keck is a place where you will thrive. It is without a doubt that at Keck you can find friends, faculty, and deans who are willing to support your dream of a more equitable future.


Priya Kohli, MD Program Fourth YearPriya Kohli
Hometown: Fremont, CA
Undergrad: UCLA
Interests: Urology, OB/GYN, reproductive justice, destigmatizing sexual health, Hospital quality improvement, MD/MBA
Medical School Year: Dual Degree MD/MBA

Before applying to medical school, people would always ask me “Oh, how do you feel about having to study all the time?” “Are you okay with giving up your 20s” “How do you feel about work-life balance?” These were all questions I endlessly thought about during the application cycle, and I wondered, would there be a place for me to develop my hobbies, interests, along with my academic self? The first glimpse of Keck’s care for the whole student came with its unique secondary questions. I had so much fun answering them and that’s when I waited eagerly hoping I would get an interview. Not only is it in sunny and exciting Los Angeles, but I felt it was a school that may just allow me to keep my interests outside of medicine.

On interview day, I was pleasantly surprised that our first interaction with the school was a conversation with the Dean of Admissions. I felt that this exemplifies the values that Keck places on its students. We are not just students, we are treated as equals and are led by physician leaders who are ecstatic for our growth and development. My first block at Keck I was so surprised at the warmth of the faculty. With educators constantly reminding us that we deserve to be here and they are there for us every step of the way. It feels like a place where everybody around me is truly rooting for me: from my classmates to my educators, each and every day I meet people who genuinely care to help me reach my full potential.

Medical School is of course difficult and the course load has definitely taken some adjusting but the emphasis Keck places on students’ mental health is phenomenal. There are no barriers if we want to interact with Deans, Professors, etc. At Keck School of Medicine I have never once felt belittled or that I was any lesser just because I was at a different part of my path in medicine. If anything, I am constantly reminded that I am valued and a large part of the Keck community.

So to answer the people that asked me if I was ready to give up aspects of my life or miss out on my 20s, I feel that my life has only been enhanced in every way at KSOM. Of course, sacrifice will naturally be a part of medicine because of its time-consuming nature, but if there is any place that will help you keep all the aspects about yourself that you value, it is Keck. I haven’t ever felt like I was “giving-up” any aspect of my life. I am in a happy relationship and find time to cook, hike, and do fun things. I love Keck so much and I know Keck loves me too!