Matriculating Class of 2016

Matriculating Class of 2016-Group

Lucero Barajas (UCSF)

Lucero Barajas

Lucero Barajas was raised in Michoacán, Mexico until the age of 10. At UCLA, she was the Director of a student-run organization that provided mentorship and tutoring to teens in foster care. In Italy, she volunteered at a local rescue unit providing medical transport and social services. After obtaining a B.A. in Psychology, she worked with at-risk youth in Los Angeles as a case-manager and counselor, and helped underrepresented students pursue post-secondary education as an Academic Advisor for Upward Bound. Lucero helped form a group of “promotoras” for La Clinica in Vallejo, CA to conduct health education and outreach. As the Latino Program Manager at the Women’s Cancer Resource Center in Oakland, Lucero provided patient navigation, interpretation, case-management, and facilitated support groups and mind-body medicine workshops. In 2015, she completed the UC Davis Post Baccalaureate Program, and is currently involved in research on psychosocial support for women with cancer and survivorship care plans.

Jose L. Cortez (JMP)

Jose L. CortezJose was born and raised in Southern California to immigrant parents from Mexico. Growing up in the Inland Empire, Jose witnessed the health inequities that were commonplace in a predominantly immigrant community. While interning at Queen of the Valley Hospital, he consistently witnessed vulnerable populations receive substandard care due to a lack in cultural competency. Therefore, after graduating from Pitzer College in 2014, Jose worked on a study at the HIV Center at Columbia University Medical Center where he helped develop a campaign to increase awareness of acute HIV amongst ethnic minority and LGBTQ communities. Since then, Jose has been working as a scribe at Loma Linda University Medical Center where he continues to witness the important role providers play in providing adequate care, counseling, and resources for vulnerable populations. Jose is excited to join the PRIME-US program and hopes to work alongside his colleagues to implement meaningful change for underserved communities. In his free time Jose likes to try new foods, go on runs, discover new music, and go to concerts.

Nikko Gonzales (UCSF)

Nikko GonzalesNikko grew up in Los Angeles County and studied Human Biology and Society at UCLA. During his undergraduate years, he found his passion for service through engaging with disadvantaged populations in educational and clinical settings. Through directing an after-school health education program at a low-income housing complex, Nikko fostered an interest in health at the social and community level. While at UCLA, he also volunteered as a caseworker for the homeless population in West Hollywood with the Mobile Clinic Project. After these exposures to health disparities and unequal opportunities in his community, Nikko sought a position as an AmeriCorps member at a federally-qualified health center in Long Beach, CA. This experience of increasing an underserved population’s access to care with enrollment and outreach strengthened his commitment towards achieving health equity and social justice. Nikko is thrilled to join the PRIME-US family and learn alongside such a passionate and dedicated team.

Lee Lemus Hufstedler (JMP)

Lee Lemus HufstedlerLee was raised in Orange, California, in a mixed, Mexican immigrant family. At Harvard College, Lee majored in Biochemical Studies, and was also passionate about pursuing a minor in Studies of Women, Gender and Sexuality. Lee worked for almost a decade as an activist and community organizer around a broad range of social justice topics, serving as the founding director of Erósfera, a youth center for sexual and reproductive health and rights in Puebla, Mexico, and as co-director of Bluestockings Bookstore and Activist Center in NYC. For the last several years, Lee has coordinated community-based research with UCSF’s Food Insecurity and Health Group, examining the impacts of food access on health for people living with HIV. Lee is thrilled to join the JMP and PRIME-US, where they look forward to further investigating the structural determinants of health for Latino immigrant, LGBTQ, and other marginalized populations. In Lee’s spare time, they enjoy hiking, playing rock guitar and drums, studying traditional plant remedies, and taking long walks with their senior miniature poodle, Lulu.

Todd Liou (UCSF)

Todd LiouTodd is Chinese/Taiwanese-American born and raised in Southern California. His exposure to the healthcare needs of underserved communities began at UC Berkeley, from where he graduated with a B.A. in Public Health and a minor in Chinese in 2015. While Todd’s interests in healthcare were refined by his time in clinical and public health research as well as volunteer work in Berkeley, his most formative experience was the Summer HIV/AIDS Research Program at the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Through his work elucidating the public health needs of MSM living in the San Francisco Bay Area, Todd realized his commitment to working with urban underserved communities. In his free time, he is an avid video gamer who enjoys gastronomic pursuits as well as fine music and literature. He is beyond thrilled to begin at his dream school!

Jose Lopez (UCSF)

Jose LopezJose was born and raised in Fresno, California to parents from Mexico. He is a first generation college student who graduated from California State University Fresno with a B.S. in Biology. His passion for working with underserved communities stemmed from seeing how health disparities, poor health literacy, and language barriers affected both his family and community. During college, he actively engaged in community projects where he assisted in educating and motivating Hispanic diabetic patients using Fotonovellas, visited elementary schools to help educate students on healthy eating habits and exercise, and completed a cancer research internship highlighting cancer disparities in the SJV. In addition, he became an active volunteer at the Tzu Chi Mobile Clinic which provided free health services to the disadvantaged. As a volunteer, one of his most important roles was that of a Spanish interpreter helping to eliminate language barriers. After graduation, Jose continued working as an emergency room scribe where he witnessed how various factors influenced the care patients received. Through these experiences he learned to better understand the socioeconomic and cultural barriers that impact the health of the underserved, and he is excited to continue working with these populations through PRIME-US. In his free time, Jose enjoys playing and watching soccer, making art, listening to music, and spending time with his family.

Simon Ma (UCSF)

Simon MaSimon was born and raised in Koreatown, Los Angeles. His parents are both immigrants from South Korea and his upbringing has shaped his desire to partner with urban underserved communities as a future physician. He graduated from Claremont McKenna College in 2014, and spent the next two years at LA County implementing a primary care-integrated Community Health Worker (CHW) program. The CHWs serve “complex care” patients who often have multiple chronic illnesses, mental health issues, and socioeconomic challenges that lead to high utilization of acute care resources and drive poor health outcomes. Through working with the CHWs, Simon has seen firsthand the importance of building genuine relationships and addressing the social determinants of health in delivering quality patient care. Simon is a strong believer in the power of united communities, and would like to work at the intersection of community development, health care delivery reform, and social justice. His Christian faith is very important to him, and he would like to learn more about the merits of congregation-based community organizing in approaching issues such as poverty alleviation and racial reconciliation. Simon is really looking forward to his time at UCSF, and is excited to be a part of the PRIME-US family!

Jessie Mai (UCSF)

Jessie MaiBorn and raised in Oakland, Jessie grew up witnessing health and social disparities. But like many of the folks who come from low-income communities of color, she dismissed these conditions as “normal”. It wasn't until she arrived at UC Berkeley, where she studied psychology and education, and got involved in community organizing work, when she finally learned about the inequities that impact her community and countless others just like it. Through youth mentorship programs, she discovered her passion for social justice, particularly for education and health equity. She served a year in Community HealthCorps at a school-based health center in Berkeley, where she used restorative justice to promote health and healing in students as well as the local community. Jessie hopes to one day practice primary care in urban underserved communities, as this is where she believes social justice comes to life. And she knows there is no better way to do so than with her new PRIME-US family!

Arienne Malekmadani (UCSF)

Arienne MalekmadaniA Bay Area native, Arienne graduated from UC Berkeley in 2013 having studied Public Health and Global Poverty. Translating her studies into practice deepened her understanding of how to address the social and environmental context of health inequities. Her most transformative undergraduate experiences—working on the African American Women’s Heart and Health Study and volunteering in a Ghanaian hospital—showed her the power of integrating prevention and treatment in order to sustainably improve health. Since graduating, Arienne has lived in NYC working for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a community health center. With CDC, she gained hands-on public health skills and had the opportunity to work in Guinea on the Ebola outbreak. With the health center, she collaborated with an interdisciplinary team to provide social and medical services to NYC’s homeless community. Arienne is incredibly excited for and humbled by the opportunity to join the PRIME-US family!

Zesemayat (Zesee) Mekonnen (JMP)

Zesemayat MekonnenZesemayat (known as Zesee) was born to Ethiopian immigrants parents and raised in Southern California. Zesee graduated from Stanford University in 2010 with a degree in Human Biology. Following college, she decided to stay in the Bay Area to pursue an interest in medical research where she investigated the pathophysiology of various lung disorders at UCSF. At the same time, she also volunteered as a peer health educator at the Women's Community Clinic in San Francisco. It was during this time that she developed a strong passion for understanding health disparities and ways to improve communication between patients and their healthcare providers. Wanting to make a personal impact on patients' lives, her focus shifted from understanding disease at a molecular level to one at a holistic individual level. In 2015, she completed a post baccalaureate program at UCSF. Zesee enjoys exploring the outdoors, traveling, reading, and trying new cafes (the Ethiopian coffee gene is strong). She is very excited to begin this next chapter in PRIME-US at the JMP!

Anh Nguyen (JMP)

Anh NguyenAnh was born in Vietnam and grew up in the Bay Area. She graduated from Williams College in 2013 with a dual degree in Biology and Sociology. Living and volunteering in rural Williamstown introduced her to issues of restricted access to care and social services. Her study abroad program, which consisted of traveling through three continents, allowed her to comparatively analyze international models of healthcare delivery and expanded her understanding of access issues. However, her most formative experience was living with a Congolese refugee family while volunteering at a low-income clinic. The experience intimately introduced her to human resilience and inspired her to seek to cultivate such strength through medicine and social services. Hence, Anh has volunteered with a variety of underserved populations, from helping the homeless and ex-offenders find work, to counseling battered or sexually assaulted women, to working in the emergency room of the country's first public hospital (Bellevue). She is excited to learn more about and serve the Bay Area's underserved communities through PRIME-US. In her free time, Anh loves swapping stories about the amazing humans we meet and serve, hiking, cooking, and road tripping.

Toke Odimayomi (UCSF)

Toke OdimayomiToke was born in Ibadan, Nigeria and raised in Westfield, IN. She attended Stanford University and graduated in 2015 with a degree in Human Biology. She enjoyed exploring aspects of the human condition through psychology, biology, economics, and much more. At Stanford, Toke explored the intersection of education and acting through children’s theater, spent summers working with students from low-income backgrounds who are interested in medicine, and conducted research on mindsets in parents and children. During a recent summer, she came back to Westfield to intern at a local domestic violence and sexual assault agency. Working with children, teens, and women there, she developed a passion for serving and advocating for this community. After graduating, Toke worked at a non-profit children’s mental health agency in San Jose, CA. Here she continued to develop an understanding of the importance of mental health care and witnessed the disparities in this area of medicine. Toke also enjoys reading, cooking, improv, and being outdoors. She hopes that through PRIME-US, she continues to grow in her passion for working with underserved communities and learns how to sustainably impact those she serves.

Carolina Ornelas (UCSF)

Carolina OrnelasCarolina Ornelas was born and raised in the Bay Area and considers Brentwood, CA her home. In 2015, she graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Human Biology, concentrating in Health Disparities in Gender and Ethnicity. At Stanford, Carolina volunteered as a Spanish interpreter at free clinics, implemented a research project working to increase HPV vaccinations in youth at a community health center, and promoted student wellness as an HIV counselor. Her most transformative experience was working to reduce health disparities in the LGBTQ community by translating qualitative data into medical education tools. After graduating, Carolina was a counselor for a Stanford summer program supporting high school students interested in medicine from underserved areas in the Bay Area. Then, she worked as a program associate, supporting youth development and community engagement projects in Redwood City and Stanford. In her free time, Carolina enjoys playing guitar and exploring nature.

Emily Ann Serna (UCSF)

Emily Ann SernaEmily Serna was born and raised in Edinburg, TX, a small town located in the lower Rio Grande Valley region that straddles the border of Texas and Mexico. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2012 with a BS in Human Biology. Upon graduation, Emily began teaching in a small border town about an hour away from her hometown in the Rio Grande Valley. She taught high school science at Grulla High School for three years, where she helped to build the AP science program as well as sponsor a student led college club that took students on end of the year college visit trips to Boston, MA and Philadelphia, PA. Through working with her students and her school’s community, she became inspired to pursue a career in medicine where she can continue to work with underserved populations in matters concerning health, advocacy, awareness and education. She is passionate about working to improve health access and outcomes in underserved communities and is excited to learn and experience together with her PRIME-US peers!

Hannah Yemane (UCSF)

Hannah YemaneHannah is a Bay Area native. After graduating from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Integrative Biology, Hannah worked as a health coach at Highland Hospital in the primary care clinic. Growing up, she served as a cultural broker for her parents at medical appointments. Similarly, working with the patient population at Highland really drove home the great need and her passion for health education that addresses all levels of health literacy with cultural humility. Hannah also cares deeply about mentoring and working with young women of color and served as mentor for YWCA’s Techgyrls program for many years. Hannah is very interested in programs that promote youth development and especially foster students of color to pursue careers in science and health with the hope to nurture future advocates and activists who can empathize, represent, and meet the needs of our diverse population. She is honored to be a part of the PRIME-US program and ecstatic to learn from and work with like-minded peers committed to social justice.