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Medical Education

UCSF medical student honored with prestigious U.S. Public Health Service Award

April 25, 2017

UCSF medical student Jirayut “New” Latthivongskorn has received a 2017 U.S. Public Health Service Excellence in Public Health Award in recognition of his dedication and efforts advocating for immigrants’ rights and health equity for under-resourced communities.

The national award is given to medical students who are public health champions advancing the U.S. Public Health Service mission to “protect, promote, and advance the health and safety of our Nation” and who are helping address public health issues in their community. Since 2012, the Excellence in Public Health Award has been given by the USPHS to visionary medical students nationally who are advancing initiatives to improve social justice.

“We are proud to present this award to New.  Through his advocacy for the health of underserved immigrant and urban communities, he has shown a commitment to the Public Health Service mission to protect, promote and advance the health and safety of the nation,” said USPHS Lieutenant Commander Andrew Terranella, MD, Regional Coordinator of the award given to Latthivongskorn at UCSF today, and presented by his colleague Captain Ram Koppaka (at left, presenting the award to New), MD, PhD, FACP.

“Through his admirable efforts to document the health needs of DACA candidates as well as his leadership on health policy as it affects immigrant communities, he exemplifies USPHS core values of leadership, service, integrity and excellence.  On behalf of the Commissioned Corps of the USPHS, I congratulate New on his accomplishments.”

Latthivongskorn was the first undocumented immigrant to attend UCSF. He co-founded Pre-Health Dreamers, a national organization that provides advising, resources and advocacy for other undocumented students interested in pursuing careers in health care.

Currently a rising fourth year medical student in the Program in Medical Education for the Urban Underserved (PRIME-US), Latthivongskorn moved from Thailand to the United States when he was nine years old. As an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, he advocated for immigrant rights and testified at the California State Capitol in support of the California DREAM Act, a law that would allow undocumented students who came to the U.S. before age 16 to apply for student financial aid.

"It is an honor to receive this award,” says Latthivongskorn, who was named earlier this year to the 2017 30 Under 30 list by Forbes magazine. “At a time when the barriers to higher education and health care facing migrants seem increasingly insurmountable by the day, I am inspired by the resilience of my family, peers, and community members who continue to break through these walls—day in and day out. I can only be thankful to have the opportunities to contribute to work impactful to so many.

Latthivongskorn is pursuing an MD and a master’s of public health degree, beginning at Harvard University this fall. He plans to become both a clinician and physician activist who uses innovative solutions and effective policies to work towards health equity for the community.

“New has been a courageous advocate for creating pathways for undocumented students to pursue health professions education and careers,” said Leigh Kimberg, MD, UCSF Professor of Medicine and Program Director of PRIME-US (at left, with New and other UCSF medical students). “He has demonstrated deep compassion, thoughtful analysis, and sophisticated insights about health-policy issues. He brings people together—to enhance community resiliency and to achieve effective and important structural system changes. New will be both a beloved clinician and an influential leader in eliminating health disparities.”

Learn more about New Latthivongskorn’s achievements: