Matriculating Class of 2014


Andrea Quiñones-Rivera (UCSF)

Andy was born and raised in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. She graduated in 2013 from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a B.S. in Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology. Throughout college she worked in the HIV and public health fields doing testing, health education, policy research, advocacy work, and even coaching sports for organizations serving underrepresented communities. She has also been a clinic coordinator for the LGBTQ Suitcase Clinic in Berkeley since its founding. After graduating college, Andy worked as a clinical case manager for HIV-positive and low-income Latinos in San Francisco. She is a huge fan of soccer, salsa dancing, laughing, and adventuring. She is excited to continue working with the Bay Area’s underserved communities as part of the PRIME-US team. 


Ashwin Balakrishnan (UCSF)

Ashwin was born and raised in southeast Michigan. He received his B.A. in 2009 from Pomona College in Claremont, CA. During college, he got involved with community organizing and youth development efforts in southern California. As an intern with an environmental justice organization in Riverside, CA, he participated in a campaign to improve air quality in neighborhoods with high rates of respiratory illness. After graduating, he coordinated an alliance of community organizations and city planning groups in the Bronx, NY. He helped Bronx residents create a plan for a healthy and economically just southern Bronx River watershed. Ashwin has a master's degree in city planning from MIT. In graduate school, he focused on ways that urban planning tools can be used to promote public health and stem urban health disparities. Ashwin is excited to learn from the PRIME family, and contribute what he has learned as an advocate for social justice.


Carolyn Kraus (JMP)

Carolyn is a mixed heritage Anishinaabekwe (Sault Ste. Marie Ojibwe) who grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii and rural Michigan. She moved to California in 2003 to attend Mills College, where she studied Ethnic Studies. She is committed to transformative social justice including racial justice, indigenous liberation, and health/healing justice. In her various community roles she has been a protest organizer, peer counselor, and traditional drummer. Carolyn’s passion for healthcare was first sparked when she co-organized the 2005 DIY Health Fair in Detroit. After graduating from Mills College in 2008, she became the Assistant Director of Native American AIDS Project in San Francisco and later served on the Board of Directors. Carolyn continued her work in healthcare for underserved populations as the Program Coordinator for the Women’s HIV Program at UCSF, where she honed her grant writing skills and developed an interest in research related to trauma in communities of color. 


Chan Young Park (JMP)

Chan was born and raised in South Korea. When she was 13 years old, she immigrated to Los Angeles where she learned to speak English. She graduated from UCLA in 2010 with B.A. in Psychology, during which she nurtured her desire to interact with underrepresented populations in the field of mental health. Through various research projects, international volunteer work, and her involvement with student initiated organizations, she developed her area of interest in electroencephalogram (EEG), Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), smoking cessation, global health and stigma against mental illness. 
Outside of school, she loves traveling, hiking and practicing yoga. She also enjoys teaching and mentoring and has deep appreciation for Golden Gate Park and her mom's homemade kimchi. She is excited to further explore her new areas of interest in drug addiction and human trafficking joined with mental health and disparities in healthcare system through her master's thesis. 


Elina Serrano (UCSF)

Elina was born in Los Angeles, California, but grew up in rural Mexico. At the age of thirteen, she immigrated to the U.S. and settled permanently in the disadvantaged community of South Los Angeles. She graduated from UC Berkeley in 2012 with a degree in Spanish Language and Literature. Having experienced educational inequality while in high school, she spent her undergraduate years volunteering with youth mentoring programs in order to increase recruitment and retention of underrepresented minorities in institutions of higher education. Additionally, her exposure to health care disparities has inspired her to advocate for patients who do not have the information, tools, or support needed to advocate for themselves. As Spanish coordinator for the Volunteer Health Interpreters Organization at UC Berkeley, and later as a volunteer at Huntington Park Family Health Center, she bridged language and cultural barriers between health care providers and monolingual Spanish-speaking patients. Elina is very excited to be part of PRIME-US and continue serving communities in the Bay Area with respect, cultural humility, and compassion. Some of her favorite activities include reading, cooking, and drawing.


Jirayut New Latthivongskorn (UCSF)

New emigrated from Thailand to the San Francisco Bay Area when he was nine years old. He attended Inderkum High School in Sacramento, and graduated from UC Berkeley, in Molecular & Cellular Biology. Outside the classroom, he has been an immigrant rights activist through ASPIRE and Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC)—advocating for various policies and sharing his personal story to increase visibility of API communities within & reframe the public’s perception around the immigration conversation. New aims to become a physician who practices medicine through a public health lens, using primary care, research, and policy to shape health for the individual and the community. His time working with the homeless at Suitcase Clinic and with Oakland’s low-income youth as a Healthy Ambassador of Mentoring in Medicine & Science exposed him to the stories of different communities, but also the struggles shared by all of them. Two years ago, he co-founded Pre-Health Dreamers to serve as a community, resource, and advocate for all undocumented students pursuing their dreams in the health and sciences.


Joana Loeza (UCSF)

Joana was born to Mexican immigrants who taught her that anything could be accomplished with hard work and perseverance. In college she worked as an emergency medical technician and noticed that the barriers that kept her own family from obtaining continuous medical care also burdened low income families throughout Los Angeles County. Consequently, she became interested in health disparities and started volunteering for Prescribing Hope, a non-profit organization that provides medical relief to underserved communities in Mexico. As Vice President of Prescribing Hope, she contacted community leaders and organized free monthly medical clinics where patients obtained much needed medication and medical care.

After college she completed a post-baccalaureate certificate program for pre-health professionals and then obtained a M.S. in Biological Sciences at California State University, Los Angeles. As a CIRM Bridges to Stem Cell intern, her research focused on cancer stem cells in triple negative breast cancer. She is excited to focus her medical education on serving urban underserved communities through PRIME-US and would like to tell anyone who is reading this and wondering whether they should apply: GO FOR IT!

Jolene Kokroko (UCSF)

Jolene is originally from Tucson, AZ but considers Northern California her home. Her interest in working with underserved communities began after childhood trips to Nogales, Mexico and later when living and serving in rural Brazil before college. She graduated from Stanford University in 2010 with a degree in Human Biology and a minor in Anthropology. Her concentration in children’s international health and health policy allowed Jolene to appreciate the interactions between social circumstance and health. She stuck around Stanford to teach as a course associate and, the following year, worked with a local church’s high school youth group. After moving to the Philadelphia to complete a post-bac pre-medical program, Jolene has spent the past year working with thalassemia patients as a clinical research coordinator at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Jolene is looking forward to moving back to the Bay Area and joining the PRIME family in learning about and supporting the urban underserved!


Justin Bullock (UCSF)

Justin was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. In 2014, he graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he studied chemical biological engineering. While at MIT, Justin competed on the Cross Country and Track and Field teams for four years. He is very excited to come out to San Francisco to participate in the PRIME program.
Justin became interested in caring for the urban underserved because he grew up in Detroit around large amounts of poverty and lack of access to medical care. In college, Justin spent a summer in Querétaro, México volunteering in the Hospital General de Querétaro. This governmental hospital primarily treated the uninsured population in Querétaro. Justin also spent time tutoring at Snowden International High School in Boston and helped to plan and run various volunteering events with MIT’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee. 


Kara Ann Harvill (UCSF)

Kara is a northern California native, but has a few real winters under her belt from her time at Brown University, where she studied history and studio art. Her study of colonialism in Latin America, Africa, and India fostered a nascent interest in the structural issues that impact health. Her first exposure to health disparities in the U.S. came from her regular visits to the Navajo reservation, her mother’s childhood home. After graduating in 2006, she moved back to California and sought out clinical research positions, which brought her into contact with ovarian cancer patients, adults at risk for diabetes, and HIV-infected individuals. Most recently, she was a coordinator for HIV studies through UCSF’s Positive Health Program. In 2013, she completed a Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical program at Mills College. Her recent volunteer work in SFGH’s Pediatric Asthma Clinic has reinforced her desire to work with families and adolescents in a primary care setting.


Mayra Cruz (UCSF)

Mayra Cruz was born and raised in Southern California. She is a first generation college student who graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a business degree and pursued a post-bac program at Cal State Fullerton. She believes in diversifying the physician workforce and serving underserved populations. She is one of the founders of ‘Health Connectors,’ a volunteer run organization at a UC Irvine federally qualified health center that focuses on helping low income patients eliminate barriers to health care. She was most recently president of MiMentor, an online mentoring organization created to help underrepresented minority students pursue a health professions career via meaningful mentoring relationships. She is ecstatic to join the UCSF PRIME US program to further prepare her for a career in serving underserved populations.  Mayra is a wife, a mother of two, enjoys movies, music and the outdoors.

Olivia Park (UCSF)

Olivia was born and raised in San Francisco. She grew up a few blocks from UCSF, where her parents owned and operated a small produce market for 25 years. She graduated from Williams College in 2004 with a B.A. in Art. From 2004-2010, while Olivia created and exhibited her artwork, she began working with children from urban underserved communities and children with developmental disabilities. As a behavior therapist for students with autism in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), Olivia provided in-home instruction to families across the city. She completed a post-bac pre-med program at Mills College from 2010-2012. For over three years Olivia did clinical and research work at the UCSF Autism Neurodevelopment Clinic and the Autism Center of Northern California. Most recently, Olivia worked for the UCSF HEARTS Project at SFGH, which provides complex trauma-focused prevention and intervention programs to SFUSD students.

Sam Cohen (UCSF)

Sam grew up in Cambridge, MA and is excited to try out the west coast (though he is terrified of earthquakes). After graduating from Columbia University with a BA in archaeology, Sam taught 6th and 7th grade in New York through Citizen Schools. Sam’s students struggled with a variety of chronic health issues, most of which went unaddressed in school and yet impacted their academic achievement. As a teacher, he became interested in the potential opportunities for schools to meet the health needs of underserved students. Leaving the classroom to explore more health related avenues, Sam volunteered in a school nurse’s office in Boston and worked for the Cambridge Housing Authority to design and implement a smoke-free public housing policy. In his free time, Sam enjoys hiking and desperately wants to learn to surf. He is excited to join PRIME-US and learn from his new classmates. 

Tara Benesch (JMP)

Born and raised near Washington, D.C, Tara moved to St. Louis to attend Washington University as an Annika Rodriguez Scholar. There, she helped develop college readiness programs for Latino students in Texas while studying psychology and playing water polo. Tara’s passion for social justice, community activism, and coloring outside the lines led her to work as a 2nd grade bilingual teacher with Teach for America after graduating in 2010. In her four years as a teacher, Tara juggled roles as a health advocate, parent liaison, and School Site Council member while playing water polo in San Francisco and developing a love for mud races. Tara’s passion for healthcare was reignited in 2011 when she began working at the Berkeley Free Clinic as an HIV test counselor. She is incredibly excited to join the JMP and PRIME communities in working to empower underserved communities with healthcare access and knowledge.

Wilson Ly (JMP)

Wilson was born in Saigon, Vietnam and moved to Minneapolis at the age of 12.  He went to UC Santa Barbara for undergraduate studies where he double majored in Microbiology and East Asian Studies.  After taking some time off to work as a research assistant, he decided to pursue a PharmD at UCSF School of Pharmacy.  In 2010, he became an HIV Clinical Pharmacist at the PACE (Partners in AIDS Care and Education) Clinic where he worked closely with underserved HIV patients in Santa Clara County.  Wilson was also involved with the Santa Clara Homeless Mobile clinic and visited the Santa Clara County jails on a monthly basis to assist with transitions of care.  Wilson has always enjoyed teaching.  He tutored basic science courses at UCSB and continued to be involved in teaching throughout his career as a clinical pharmacist.   Wilson is very excited to be a part of PRIME!