Matriculating Class of 2013


Sidra Bonner (UCSF)

Sidra Bonner was born and raised in Denver, Colorado.  Her interest in health disparities stems from seeing different health outcomes in her childhood neighborhood and the affluent area where she attended high school.  She graduated from Cornell University in 2012 with a degree in Biology and Society. 
At Cornell, Sidra had the opportunity to conduct research focused on traditional medicine in the Dominican Republic for a summer as part of the Minority in Health and Health Disparities International Research Training Program.  This experience inspired Sidra to commit to serving underserved communities in the U.S. and abroad.  After graduating, Sidra joined Community Health Corps as part of the Transitions of Care team at Salud Family Health centers, a community Health center in Northeast Colorado.  She is excited to join the PRIME program and hopes to explore public health and policy initiatives that improve access to primary care and community health.


Daniela Brissett (UCSF)

Born to German and Panamanian immigrants, Daniela started her life as an explorer or more endearingly termed: a military brat. Growing up her family worked heavily in the community, aiding with food drives and homeless shelters; later in high school she furthered these efforts by mentoring children from community centers she frequented as a kid. As an intern and later a coordinator with UC Berkeley’s CALPIRG she worked with elected officials on how best to combat 'hunger and homelessness.' Soon after she became affiliated with the Cal’s HMAP program, where as an intern and later a teacher she delved into topics such as public policy, violence and nutrition. Soon after graduation she began applying this knowledge while working at an AmeriCorps’s reading program and continued her research pursuits at Stanford University. Daniela is very excited about PRIME and hopes by focusing her studies within urban communities she will be able to target issues where mere statistical data only skims the surface.


Simon Chu (JMP)

Simon Chu was born and raised in Vista, California, and graduated from UC Berkeley in 2009 with a degree in Public Health with an emphasis in Infectious Diseases. While at Berkeley, he was first introduced to the severity of health disparities present in his community via his position as a Commissioner on the City of Berkeley’s Community Health Commission. Subsequently, through working with hard-to-reach injection drug users as a needle exchange outreach worker for Points of Distribution, he discovered his calling to preventing devastating diseases from reaching the most vulnerable of populations. Shortly after graduation, he focused his efforts in health promotion and disease prevention as an AmeriCorps health educator at Berkeley High School, and as a HIV research associate at UCSF’s Gladstone Institutes. He is thrilled to come back to the Bay Area to have the wonderful opportunity to be a part of JMP and PRIME.


Kazandra De la Torre (UCSF)

Kazandra is a Los Angeles native who graduated with a degree in Neuroscience from Pomona College. During her time there, she studied abroad in Guadalajara, Mexico and interned at a couple of hospitals. While serving in the Women’s Hospital, Kazandra was inspired to spend time after college learning about health education, women’s health reform, and community activism.
After graduation, Kazandra spent two years in NYC working for HealthCorps as a Health Coordinator for a high school campus. She taught bilingual health classes for students and parents, ran after-school cooking programs, coordinated staff wellness, and advocated for and implemented health-related school policy changes.
Kazandra comes from a large and wonderfully loud family of first generation immigrants from Jalisco, Mexico. Her favorite past-times are cooking with family and friends and teaching others. Through PRIME, her goal is to reduce the health disparities of underserved populations through health education, community advocacy, and patient outreach.


Emma Dobbins (JMP)

Emma hails from Portland, OR where she learned to appreciate big puddles and cloudy days. She graduated from Carleton College in 2010 with a political Science degree and promptly moved back to the West Coast to begin an AmeriCorps position in the Bay Area. Emma spent the next two years as an outreach worker for a mobile health clinic that offers urgent care and primary care referrals to San Francisco’s homeless population. She provided health education and case management to clinic clients, focusing specifically on opioid overdose prevention. Later, Emma began researching the effects of using beautiful, supportive housing as a medical intervention for homeless people who are high users of the medical system.  Throughout the project, Emma had the opportunity to wear multiple hats, including that of case manager, research assistant, and patient advocate.  She is eagerly looking forward to becoming a part of the PRIME-US community and to continue to work with urban underserved communities. 


Walid Hamud-Ahmed (UCSF)

Walid Hamud-Ahmed was born and raised in Fresno, California. He graduated in 2013 from Fresno State with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Philosophy. Growing up in the Valley, Walid witnessed first-hand the health disparities that existed in medical settings such as Community Regional Medical Center, UCSF-Fresno, and the Tzu Chi Free Clinic, where he volunteered for three years. As a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar to South Africa in 2012, Walid established and directed an educational project for street children at the Sinethemba Children’s Center while serving as a volunteer nurse in a slum in Port Elizabeth. Experiencing the struggles for education and basic healthcare both locally and abroad spurred Walid’s interests in public health and the role he could take as an advocate for the underserved. Walid is very excited to be a part of PRIME-US and looks forward to meeting those who carry common vision for a smarter, healthier, and empowered world. 


Elizabeth Johns (JMP)

Elizabeth was born in Columbus, OH. After attending American University in Washington, DC for two years, she took a year off to work at an after school program for LGBTIQ youth in Southeast DC through AmeriCorps, then transferred to Hampshire College, graduating in 2006 with a self-designed degree in Psychology and Human Sexuality. After graduation, Elizabeth moved to Windhoek, Namibia through the program WorldTeach, first working as a primary school teacher and then as a program administrator at the Ministry of Education. Since moving to the Bay Area in 2008, she has worked at a fancy primary care doctor's office, lived briefly in Kigali, Rwanda coordinating a WorldTeach volunteer teacher program, completed a post-bac program at San Francisco State University, and, for the past three years, has been a counselor at the Women's Options Center, the abortion clinic at San Francisco General Hospital. Elizabeth also spent an instructive 4.5 years volunteering in the medical section of the Berkeley Free Clinic. Elizabeth could not be happier to be a part of both PRIME and the JMP.


Gianna Le (UCSF)

Gianna Le grew up in southern California, received her BA in public health from UC Berkeley in 2006, and completed her post baccalaureate studies at UCSF in 2012.  In college, she studied global health in India, China, and South Africa where she learned firsthand the inextricable link between health and social justice.  After graduation, and following a 3-year career in video production, she conducted molecular epidemiological research on antibiotic resistance at UC Berkeley and volunteered with Maitri AIDS hospice in San Francisco.  Most recently, she served as the coordinator for the problem gambling prevention project through the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs.  In this role, she educated over 6,000 people on this underserved mental health issue, wrote several resource papers, and supported youth-led awareness projects.  Through PRIME, she hopes to nurture her interests in community health, integrative medicine, culturally competent care, and health disparities.  Adventurous at heart, Gianna enjoys traveling, philosophical conversations about human nature, and learning new skills such as qi gong and salsa dancing.


Adali Martinez (UCSF)

Adali was raised in San Diego, California and is a proud resident of Barrio Logan, home to the historic Chicano Park. She graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2012 with a degree in Neuroscience. While in Baltimore, Adali was actively involved with Health Leads, an organization that addresses the social determinants of health by connecting patients with the basic resources they need to be healthy. After graduating, she moved back to Barrio Logan to work at the Logan Heights Family Health Center as a women’s health case manager. There, she connected low-income Hispanic women to mammography screenings and served as a navigator for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. Adali enjoys exercising and likes to challenge herself, so in the summer of 2010 she biked from Baltimore to San Francisco with the 4k for Cancer to raise money for the cancer treatment and research. She fell in love with the city is excited to continue to work with the Bay Area’s underserved communities with PRIME-US.


Fabiola Molina-Torres (UCSF)

Fabiola Molina was born in Mexico and at the age of five moved to rural North Carolina where her father worked as a farm worker and in construction. Her family later moved to the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. As a first-generation college student she attended Texas A&M University and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in Biomedical Science in 2011. After college she moved to California and took a job as an organizer at SEIU- United Healthcare Workers West. During her time at SEIU-UHW she organized homecare workers in Contra Costa County and participated in political and healthcare campaigns. Her experiences as an immigrant, a labor organizer, and a member of a family with limited access to healthcare empower her to bring a social engagement to medicine. She looks forward to being a part of the PRIME-US program and learning from her peers, teachers, and the community.


Joshua Ocegueda (JMP)

Joshua grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles County, in an untraditional family and was financially dependent on government assistance throughout his childhood. Inspired to improve healthcare for those in need, he attended UCSD for his undergraduate degrees where he double majored in Human Biology and Economics. While in San Diego he worked to improve the healthcare of migrant field workers and the homeless community. As the first generation of his Mexican family to be born in America, Joshua has a strong connection to the Spanish-speaking community. He has worked both locally and abroad to provide better healthcare to these communities. After graduating college, Joshua worked as a teacher at a learning center where he worked with a variety of students, including helping students that could not afford tutoring services. Joshua is excited to join the JMP and PRIME communities to find better ways of providing healthcare to those in need.

Maria Patanwala (UCSF)

Maria was born and raised in Southern California and graduated from UC Berkeley in 2012 double majoring in Social Welfare and Molecular Cell Biology while minoring in English.  She researched cystic fibrosis and the physiological effects of bacterial infections on airway cells and then, spent most of her time outside of the classroom and lab in the community. She worked with Habitat for Humanity and the Suitcase Clinic, which led her to study Social Welfare in order to better grasp the hardships and disparities she encountered as she listened to clients.  Maria also studied abroad in Chile where she helped research caretaking of children with HIV/AIDS in the face of stigma and socioeconomic hardships. She recently served with AmeriCorps at a food bank and rural community health centers to address food insecurity and type II diabetes, especially within Latino communities.  They provided diabetes screenings, nutritious food boxes, primary care referrals, and bilingual diabetes self-management education. Finally, she loves to hike, cook, laugh, read, and have picnics, and is excited to join the PRIME-US family!

Donald Richards (UCSF)

Donald was born and raised in the Inland Empire of Southern California; however, my family originates from Spiro, Oklahoma. He graduated from the University of California, Riverside in 2012 with a degree in Biology. One of his most rewarding experiences as an undergrad was the weekly delivery of heart shaped pillows to patients in the Cardiac ICU at Loma Linda University Hospital as a part of the group Mended Hearts. His enthusiasm for working with underserved populations in part comes from co-founding the student organization Unnatural Causes: Health Equity Advocates. Through this program and the documentary, Unnatural Causes, he gained a greater appreciation for the vast complexity of health disparities, as well as how socioeconomic factors influence health outcomes. Donald is overjoyed to be joining the PRIME family and to begin learning the art of being a physician practicing cultural humility in an urban underserved community.

Angela Suen (UCSF)

Angela Suen is a San Francisco native. She graduated from UCLA in 2009 with a degree in Neuroscience. At UCLA, she became involved with Mobile Clinic Project, a student-run mobile clinic serving the homeless community of West Los Angeles, as a caseworker, a health education chair, and undergraduate coordinator. Angela also cares deeply about mentorship, and has worked as a tutor in math and science in underperforming schools in order to promote science literacy and higher education. Through PRIME, she hopes to further explore how cultural awareness can improve health outcomes in immigrant and marginalized populations. In her spare time, she likes to run, hike, and bake.

Griselda Velasquez (UCSF)

Griselda Velasquez was born and raised in San Francisco, California and received an undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley. As an undergraduate, she worked with a diabetes awareness and prevention program that nurtured a passion for public health and medicine. After college, she became an advisor with the Biology Scholars Program and feels fortunate to have aided in the effort to increase the number of underrepresented students in science related careers.  She volunteered with Street Level Health Project’s Free Health Clinic in East Oakland, which made her acutely aware of the lack of access to health care and inspired her to become involved in family planning and reproductive health services. Coordinating research locally and abroad with Stanford University in the Family Planning and Research division has made her look forward to work alongside and empower women in low-resource settings everywhere. Her intent is to strengthen these interests with guidance from PRIME mentors and she is excited to support the PRIME students in achieving shared goals that stem from a passion for social justice for underserved communities.