Matriculating Class of 2023
Melat grew up in San Jose, California and graduated from Stanford University with a B.S. in Bioengineering. At Stanford, Melat was involved in research, as well as student groups, including the Society of Black Scientists and Engineers and Stanford Ethiopian and Eritrean Student Association. After graduation, Melat explored healthcare from a systems perspective through management consulting. Through this exploration, Melat confirmed her desire to pursue medicine, and subsequently complete premed coursework at Mills College. During this time, she interned at Highland Hospital, where she helped underserved patients navigate obtaining government benefits from social welfare programs. Through her work and volunteer experiences, Melat was exposed to socioeconomic disparities in healthcare. She looks forward to learning and collaborating with her PRIME-US classmates to tackle healthcare disparities in urban underserved communities. In her free time, Melat likes hiking, going to the beach, and spending time with family and friends.
Sebastian Castillo Cario
Sebastian is a first-generation Mexican American and was born and raised in San Diego, California. He graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in Psychobiology and a minor in Spanish. Throughout college, Sebastian volunteered as a Spanish interpreter for underinsured patient populations in Los Angeles at the Venice Family Clinic. He also helped co-found and worked with various programs to provide mentorship and resources to high school and community college students from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds to help achieve careers and higher education in STEM. After healthcare experiences and interactions with his family and community, Sebastian hopes to combat healthcare inequities by increasing patient advocacy and providing safe spaces for patient concerns. Sebastian is excited to continue working to dismantle healthcare inequities affecting marginalized communities alongside his PRIME-US peers! In his free time, Sebastian enjoys playing guitar, spending time with family and friends, listening to music, and exploring outdoors.
Camila De Pierola Casalino
Camila was born in Peru and grew up in San Jose, California. As a first-generation student, she earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a biochemistry minor from Loyola Marymount University. There, she immersed herself in activism and embraced various leadership roles. As a DACA student, these platforms allowed her to elevate the voices of immigrant students and create institutional changes. Noting the impact that barriers such as immigration status had on one’s mental and overall health, she met with congressional officials and created a national support group for undocumented young adults. This work sparked her interest in public health, leading her to earn a master’s in public health at UC Berkeley. Camila is passionate about the art of qualitative research, dismantling race-based medicine, and enforcing the ethics of people over profit. You can also find her powerlifting at the gym, visiting the beach, or exploring new food and restaurants.
Maithily is a first-generation Mexican- US American growing up in multiple states on the East Coast as her mother served 20 years in the Army. She obtained a BS in Biology and a BA in Modern Languages (Spanish/Russian two-track) from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a first-generation low-income college graduate. Living with her grandparents in public housing in West New York, New Jersey, this microcosm of Latinamericanos was her home where she witnessed pervasive health inequities and injustice throughout her community. After graduation, she taught science and health in NYCPS across Harlem and the Bronx combating educational inequities she experienced herself. Then moving to Tijuana, Mexico, she was a coordinator at a clinic for refugee and asylum seekers where she learned the grander scope of policy, global health, and discrimination immigrants to the United States face. After this, she spent a year in Paris researching immuno-oncology of sarcomas under a Fulbright award. She is passionate about immigrant health, both domestic and international, and excited to pursue this through PRIME-US. On the weekend, she loves cinema; on weekdays, can’t miss her Crossfit class and anytime can be found singing!
Grecia Ortiz Flores
Grecia was born and raised in the Bay Area. She completed a B.S. in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavioral studies from the University of California, Davis. As a first-generation Mexican American living in underserved low socioeconomic communities, she experienced first-hand the disparities and lack of access to quality health care. The disproportionate distribution of resources and lack of access to quality health care was one of the first realizations to spark her interest in medicine. During an internship in Oaxaca, Mexico she explored migrant health and further dissected the importance of the social determinants of health and their implications on health outcomes. Since then, Grecia has worked as an Emergency Medical Technician during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and as a Medical Assistant in dermatology. Grecia has continued to be a positive agent of change by volunteering at RotaCare Richmond Free clinic where she is reminded of the importance of patient advocacy and representation of minority cultures in medicine. Grecia is excited to be part of PRIME-US and learn the skills necessary to provide quality healthcare to vulnerable underserved communities like the ones she grew up in. Outside of medicine, Grecia enjoys photography, traveling, and going on long walks with her dog.
Maria is a first-generation student, born and raised in Oakland, CA. She graduated from UCLA in 2021 as a Regents scholar with a BS in Physiological Science and minor in Global Health. As the daughter of undocumented mix status Mexican immigrants, her personal experiences influenced her goals and passion for addressing health disparities and advocating for marginalized communities. As an undergraduate student, she volunteered in health fairs and community clinics for underserved communities in East Los Angeles. Her commitment to making higher education and healthcare more accessible led her to become a High Achievement in Math and Science (High AIMS) student intern at UCLA to help connect pre-health undergraduate students underrepresented in medicine to professional development and networking opportunities. Maria aims to become a culturally aware Latina physician to help bridge the gap in healthcare accessibility and improve patient outcomes for underserved communities while promoting equity and inclusivity in healthcare.
Jennifer (Jenny) Juarez Yoc
Jenny Juarez was born and raised in San Francisco. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Biology, B.A. in Spanish, and a minor in Chicano and Latino Studies from Sonoma State University. As a first-generation Guatemalan American, she has first-hand experience of healthcare disparities in underserved communities. This sparked her passion in becoming an advocate and change-agent in her neighborhood. During undergrad, she was a Peer Health Leader, teaching classes on nutrition and disease prevention at the Sunnydale Health & Wellness Center. She also became a medical scribe at SEHC and the first college intern for the Future Faces of Family Medicine at the Santa Rosa Family Medicine Residency program. In this role, she mentored 40 underrepresented students, engaged in research to identify racial bias in the residency and co-facilitated medical workshops. After college, as a project coordinator at SFGH, she led a pilot of video visits amid the pandemic to improve access to care. She also created and led the first Spanish-language perinatal family advisory board to elevate patient voices into institutional decision-making. In her free time, she attends church, travels, jogs/hikes, and watches sunsets by the beach. Jenny is excited to further develop interventions that advance health equity and justice through PRIME-US!
Audrey was born and raised in SoCal but grew up primarily in Lancaster, California. After attending community college, she transferred to UCLA and became the first in her family to graduate college upon receiving her B.S. in Physiological Science with a minor in Chicano studies. During undergrad, she was devoted to serving disadvantaged communities through volunteer work and advocacy. This includes volunteering at health fairs for low-income communities in the San Fernando Valley, tutoring for afterschool STEM programs in Korea town, and summer camp counseling for UCLA Unicamp. She also immersed herself in advocacy for LGBTQ+ healthcare after joining the Lavender Health Alliance at UCLA and volunteering at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Jeffrey Goodman Clinic. Audrey is excited to bring her perspective, as a queer Chicanx woman, to the PRIME-US program and hopes to learn more about healthcare disparities through research and outreach to better support underserved communities.
Nebyou Girma Mergia
Nebyou is a first-generation Ethiopian-American who grew up in Kansas and Johannesburg, South Africa. A fascination for Biology progressed into an interest in healthcare after his first semester at Northeastern University. Gaps in Boston's healthcare inspired Nebyou to improve health equity for those he identifies with. He joined/led Peer Health Exchange, Peace through Play, Youth2Youth, and other organizations aimed at improving healthcare access for marginalized youth. Eventually, Nebyou graduated with a major in Biology and double minors in Health Science and Women, Gender, and Sexuality studies. He believes the intersection between science and humanities is where health equity can be contextualized, studied, and used to inform policy change. Nebyou is excited to join PRIME and become an advocate for Black/Brown, Youth, LGBTQ+, and First-Gen American patients as a physician. Outside of medicine, Nebyou loves to run, longboard, drink bubble tea, and enjoy lazy days on the beach.
Guled was born in Kenya as a refugee from Somalia. As an infant, he immigrated to the United States and was raised in urban Kansas City. As a member of a low-socioeconomic community, Guled knows how difficult it can be to access quality healthcare in low-income neighborhoods. Guled is passionate about advocating for fair and equal healthcare for all members of society regardless of income. Guled volunteers as a Somali-English translator to help patients communicate with their healthcare providers. During undergrad, Guled was the President of the Minority Association for Premed Students. He provided mentorship and guidance to incoming minority students planning to apply to medical school. Guled is passionate about community health, advocacy, and making medicine and science linguistically accessible to all communities. In his free time, Guled enjoys basketball, soccer, chess, biking, and exploring.
Pearl Ogho Omo-sowho
Pearl Ogho Omo-sowho was born and raised in Nigeria. Growing up in Nigeria, she witnessed first hand health disparities amongst her community members and has seen similar barriers in the U.S amongst low income and ethnic minorities, and these experiences have strengthened her drive to be an advocate for vulnerable populations. She immigrated to the United States in 2016 where she lived in Oakland, California. She went to community college in Oakland and transferred to UCLA in 2019 where she majored in Human Biology & Society. After graduating, she embarked on a 2 year gap year and worked as the program coordinator of the UCLA Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health & Pathways for Students into Health Professions. Outside of the medical field, she loves theater, music, hiking, traveling, cooking, and exploring new places. Pearl is beyond excited to be back in the Bay Area and be a part of the PRIME-US family.
Chris Angelo Pineda
Chris Pineda was raised by Peruvian immigrants in Los Angeles County. Growing up, he discovered the struggles that his Latine community and family faced while assimilating into the US. Recognizing the sacrifices made by those before him ultimately drove him to value the privilege of obtaining an education in this country. At UC Irvine, he found fulfillment in initiatives to increase representation in the sciences and medicine. However, he always yearned to do even more for his community. His most meaningful involvement was being the Internal
Volunteering President and bilingual medical assistant for the ICNA Relief Crescent Clinic, a free clinic in Orange County. As a PRIME-US physician, he intends to continue championing high-quality care for historically marginalized communities and promoting diversity within the physician workforce. In his free time, he enjoys running, strength training, trying new foods, and spending time with family and friends.
Semira grew up in San Jose, California, and graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Public Health. She is a first-generation college student and the eldest daughter of Ethiopian immigrants. Growing up, Semira witnessed barriers to health care access for communities of color. This sparked her interest in addressing social determinants of health among underserved populations. During her time in undergrad, she co-founded a menstrual equity organization and volunteered at the Berkeley Free Clinic, providing free STI testing to low-income and houseless patients. After graduating, she did research in maternal health at the UCSF Osher Center. She also completed a post-baccalaureate program at UCSF. Semira is passionate about mentorship, reproductive health, immigrant health, and global health. Outside of work and school, she loves to read, journal, spend time in nature, and work out. She is super excited to participate in the PRIME-US community as a JMP student!
Born in Cambodia to survivors of the Khmer Rouge, Guistinna was raised in El Monte, California, and graduated from UCLA with a degree in Psychobiology. During this journey, she studied the effect of chronic pain on brain connectivity and mindfulness as a form of treatment. With her research experience, Guistinna proceeded to help address Black maternal and infant mortality by analyzing the effectiveness of cultural humility training for healthcare providers. In 2021, after witnessing the pandemic and public charge rule strike fear in immigrant communities, Guistinna began interning with the Los Angeles Office of Immigrant Affairs, where she supported the implementation of mobile vaccine clinics and a citywide Language Access Plan. Collectively, these experiences sparked her interest in the intersection of trauma, the immigrant experience, and health. In between, Guistinna enjoys gardening (preferably with her mom, who usually does all the work) and card games with her family and 90-year-old great-grandmother.
Ryan was born and raised in Orange County, California. He graduated from Harvard College in 2021 with a concentration in Neuroscience and a secondary in Global Health and Health Policy. As a student, he served as the Food/In-Kind Director and Guest Advocacy Director of a student-run homeless shelter, was a committee organizer and the service director of a campus political organization and worked on the teaching staff of an introductory undergraduate neuroscience course. He also conducted basic and clinical research on multiple sclerosis and connected incarcerated people at Cook County Jail with resources through a research project at the University of Chicago. After graduating, Ryan worked with Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program as a Clinical Case Manager and Street Outreach volunteer. He then transitioned to health management consulting, assisting federal and state government agencies with health policy implementation. In his free time, Ryan enjoys weightlifting, creative writing, baking, and hanging out with friends and family.