Matriculating Class of 2012


Danielle Atibalentja (UCSF)

Danielle Atibalentja was born in Cameroon and moved to the US at the age of eleven. Her interest in underserved healthcare originates from witnessing the devastating consequences of poor health access in Cameroon and her family’s personal experience with the US healthcare system as immigrants.  During post undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois, she entered a post-baccalaureate biomedical research program at the NIH focused on educating future medical researchers about domestic health disparities.  This experience highlighted for her the importance of health literacy and the need for individuals who could effectively bridge the gap of understanding between the medical community and patients.  With her PhD  in Immunology from Washington University in St. Louis, she now hopes to combine her scientific training with her life-long desire to improve human health by pursuing medicine.  She looks forward to being a part of PRIME-US and meeting everyone at UCSF in the fall.


Joe Cartwright (UCSF)

Joe grew up in the small town of Mount Angel, Oregon. He attended Stanford University, where he majored in Human Biology with a concentration in African Health. His most memorable volunteering experience was travelling to Accra, Ghana to work with Unite for Sight, a nonprofit organization that helps deliver high quality eye care to areas with limited resources. After graduating from Stanford in 2009, Joe joined Teach for America and was placed as a 5th grade teacher (all subjects) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He earned his Master's degree in Education from Marquette University in 2011 and is excited to bring his experiences in the classroom and his passion for justice to UCSF.


Rand Dadasovich (JMP)

Rand was born and raised in the East Bay and graduated from Yale University in 2003 with a degree in English. He spent three summers working in rural Latin America on community development and youth empowerment projects with the organization Amigos de las Américas. He credits his experiences as an Amigos volunteer, supervisor, and project director with helping to shape his interest in public health and medicine. During college, he volunteered at a non-profit primary care clinic through the Dwight Hall Urban Fellows Program, where he developed an interest in working in urban underserved communities. After college, he worked on a variety of projects in the field of HIV/AIDS research, first at amfAR in New York City, and then at the UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies and the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Most recently, he was working on a study evaluating different approaches to routine HIV testing in the Emergency Department of San Francisco General Hospital. Rand is excited to join the JMP and PRIME-US communities and is grateful for the opportunity to learn among such passionate and talented people.


Colette DeJong (UCSF)

Colette grew up in Urbana, Illinois, and graduated from Brown University in 2011 with Honors in Development Studies. At Brown, Colette explored urban social justice through the Starr and Royce Fellowships, and wrote her senior thesis on the replication of the Partners in Health PACT Project  (a Boston-based community health worker program for people living with HIV) in 28 hospitals and health centers across New York City. After graduating, Colette spent a summer as an intern at Partners in Health's Institute for Health and Social Justice. From 2011-2012, Colette worked at Green City Force, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit that prepares unemployed young adults for careers in the green economy. She has previously worked with the Mali Health Organizing Project and Make The Road New York. She is thrilled to be a part of PRIME-US and excited to explore the West Coast.


Daniel (DJ) Freitas (UCSF)

Daniel (DJ) Freitas was adopted from Korea by second generation Portuguese parents. He grew up in Loomis, CA. and graduated from UC Berkeley in 2009. His passion for utilizing health as a medium for the promotion of social justice stems from his involvement in Berkeley’s community clinics. In his 5 years as a caseworker, instructor, and advisory board member for Suitcase Clinic he worked to empower clients to escape poverty and homelessness. He found his love for medicine over the last 4 years by providing acute medical care to the uninsured as a medic at the Berkeley Free Clinic. And for the last 2 years he has been coordinating health care services to Berkeley’s homeless shelters as Health Care Coordinator for Berkeley Food and Housing Project. Through PRIME he hopes to learn how to apply a truly comprehensive health care approach to address the needs of homeless communities.


Tara Gonzalez (JMP)

Originally from San Diego, Tara received a BA in Public Health from UC Berkeley in 2009.  At Cal, Tara kept busy in the community; directing a mentoring program for young women, and organizing around violence prevention, housing rights in New Orleans and LGBT rights in California.  After graduating, Tara became a sexual health educator at the Berkeley High School Health Center, providing individual counseling and coordinating a peer education program.  At this time Tara also joined the Children’s Oral Health and Nutrition Project, helping with data collection and ethnographic analysis in El Salvador. Most recently, Tara worked with the HIV Epidemiology Section at SFDPH as a research associate on a CDC funded needs and experiences assessment of HIV positive patients.  With the training of both JMP and PRIME, it is Tara's intention to provide culturally responsive care to people most in need by utilizing existing community structures and strengths.


Ben Hayes (UCSF)

Ben Hayes earned his bachelor's (2002) and masters degrees in public health and social work (2006) at the University of Michigan.  While in graduate school he interned with the World Health Organization's Department of HIV/AIDS (2004), with HIV and LGBT organizations in Accra, Ghana (2005), and with an HIV/AIDS advocacy agency in Detroit, MI (2005-2006).  In 2007 Ben moved to San Francisco, where he worked as a program coordinator and case manager for the Black Coalition on AIDS (2007-10).  Most recently, he has worked with a UCSF-based clinical trial of a potential preventative hepatitis C vaccine.  Ben has also coordinated youth programs in Michigan (2003-04), served as a Community Co-Chair of the San Francisco HIV Prevention Planning Council (2007-10), and volunteered with the Homeless Youth Alliance (2009) and with St. James Infirmary (2011-12).  Ben is extremely excited to join the PRIME-US community.


Daniel Herrador (JMP)

Daniel is a California native with his roots in Los Angeles and Orange County.  Daniel attended Stanford University and graduated with his B.S. in Biological Sciences. Daniel has investigated impediments to care for Australian Indigenous diabetics in Northern Queensland, and helped to expand the impact and reach of TeachAIDS’ (an HIV/AIDS educational non-profit) educational materials by working on mobile video distribution and editing.  Most recently he has worked with the San Francisco Department of Public Health on the outpatient electronic medical record software implementation for SF City and SFGH outpatient clinics.  He hopes to further investigate links between Latino communities and chronic disease prevention strategies.  Daniel is a huge tech geek and video gamer.  He also loves to cook and experiment in the kitchen.  Finally, he’s a proud member of the SF Gay Softball League and is often out on weekends playing on his team, the Cougars.


Danny Kim (UCSF)

Danny was born and raised in Chicago, IL and graduated from Harvard College in 2010. In college, he had the privilege of sharing in the lives of many special people while spending time in a rural community in Nicaragua and conducting street outreach through a homeless shelter at Harvard. In these connections, he experienced transcendence and grace, witnessing resilience and hope often buoyed by faith and community. Thus after college, he moved to East Oakland to learn more about “community” through a ministry/seminary internship that linked spiritual practices with social justice and communal living. Over the past two years, he has tried to share life with people in his neighborhood, coaching soccer, helping lead a church youth group, and volunteering at a local clinic. He is really excited about PRIME and hopes to explore how improving the delivery of primary care can build community and empower people in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.


Elaine Lee (UCSF)

Elaine Lee was born and raised in San Francisco, which means she bleeds Giant’s orange and is a foodie at heart. She received her undergraduate degree in Bioengineering at UC Berkeley. As a first generation college student, she worked to decrease the education gap through programs such as Summer Bridge and PACT, and to increase access to healthcare through medical research. Working in biomedical prototyping, Elaine saw the need for preventative medicine and patient-centered care. She designed devices to decrease the cost of care by promoting efficient diagnosis and reducing unnecessary drug use. Aside from encouraging accessible healthcare, she is also interested in altered states of consciousness, LGBT health disparities, and chronic illnesses affecting low-income communities. These interests stem from her experiences and volunteering at Alta Bates. There, she worked in the pulmonary sub-acute care unit, using sensory stimulation on minimally conscious and persistent vegetative state patients and in the emergency department, caring for the uninsured. The PRIME program will provide a supportive network while allowing her to more effectively bring preventative medicine to a multitude of underserved populations.


Michael Mensah (UCSF)

Michael Mensah was born in Scranton, Pa. His parents are originally from Ghana. He grew up in Houston (early life) and Scranton. He has two older sisters and one younger sister. His extended family resides both in the US and Ghana. He attended Princeton University, graduating in 2010 in Philosophy and African American Studies.  He was very active in the Black Student Union, and IGNITE, an initiative to inspire underserved children to overachieve. During this time, he co-founded a project that sent inspiring postcards from Princeton's Black Student Union membership to 6 Teach for America classrooms that were located in troubled parts of New York City. For 18 months after graduation, he worked at a halfway house for the mentally ill. Residents suffered from both socioeconomic and medical maladies (addiction, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder). It was during this time that Mike's interest in serving the underserved reached a crescendo.


Sofia Noori (UCSF)

Sofia Noori was born and raised in San Jose, California, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California at Berkeley. After graduation, Sofia taught musicianship at the San Jose Jazz Camp, and worked as a project manager at the newly established Clinical Excellence Research Center at Stanford University. The center designs novel healthcare models that improve health outcomes while significantly reducing costs. As a saxophone player deeply involved with teaching and spreading jazz to youth, Sofia developed a passion for bettering the community that has led her to the PRIME-US program. She is also very interested in women's rights, and currently volunteers as a certified rape crisis counselor. Sofia's favorite pastimes include music, traveling, watching scary movies, and learning new skills, including boxing, pottery, and web design.


Joe Luis Pantoja (UCSF)

Joe Luis Pantoja is a California native, born and raised in South Los Angeles amongst a big family.  He enjoys being outdoors, challenging his limits with activities like rock climbing.  He also enjoys mentoring youth through programs like First Robotics. He attended UC Berkeley as a Mechanical Engineering major, where he was an active member of Hermanos Unidos, a Latino student support group. Upon graduating, he commenced employment as a designs engineer at the Chevron El Segundo Refinery, where he stayed for 2 years. After heavy reevaluation of life goals, priorities, and principals, he attended a post-bac program at Loyola Marymount to start a career in medicine.  During his studies, he volunteered at St. Mary Medical Center and conducted research on nano drug carriers.  Joe feels very fortunate to join PRIME-US and looks forward to collaborating with a community that shares the passion of working with underserved populations.


Hai Pham (JMP)

Hai was born in Vietnam, came to the US at age one, and eventually settled down in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey. He graduated from Yale in 2012 with a B.S. in Biology. Somewhere along the way, he made it across the pond to study Cell Signaling at the University of Cambridge. At Yale, he spent time researching the impact of socioeconomic status and depression on clinical outcomes in underserved adolescents with type 1 diabetes. He switched hats and joined a molecular genetics lab where he studied the upregulation of iron homeostasis genes in the biofortification of zea maize. He wanted to approach public health from a basic science angle to alleviate the worldwide nutritional iron deficiency epidemic by offering more nutritious food crops in underserved nations. He hopes to continue exploring how socioeconomic status affects health disparities and health outcomes with his classmates at JMP and PRIME.


Samantha Rawlins-Pilgrim (UCSF)

Samantha Rawlins-Pilgrim grew up in Boston, MA and graduated from Yale in 2011 with a BA in Spanish. While in college, she volunteered as an interpreter at HAVEN Free Clinic and in the recreation department at Leeway Inc., a specialized AIDS nursing facility. Both of these experiences furthered her interests in medicine and working with underserved communities. She also served as Director of AIDS Walk New Haven through which she developed an interest in healthcare advocacy. After graduating from college, Samantha worked as a tutor at City on a Hill Charter Public High School in Boston, MA. She looks forward to further defining the work she wants to do with underserved communities through PRIME.