Matriculating Class of 2020
Yenenesh (Yeni) Belachew
Yeni is a first-generation Ethiopian-American born and raised in Oakland, California. Her passion for health equity sparked through a combination of her upbringing in Oakland, exposure to the dismal healthcare system in Ethiopia, and her premedical experiences. Yeni attended UC Davis and graduated with a degree in neurobiology, physiology, and behavior. During college, she was involved in a student-run clinic primarily focused on dismantling barriers to healthcare services within the Black community. Post-graduation, she worked as a patient coordinator at a non-profit organization in East Oakland, focused on eliminating health disparities within the Black community by providing whole-person care, navigation, and behavioral health care services. Yeni looks forward to serving her local communities and working towards a genuinely equitable healthcare system with her PRIME-US peers. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, exploring nature, and discovering delicious new recipes.
Sabrina was born in Redwood City, California to Venezuelan immigrants. She graduated in 2018 from Pomona College with a major in molecular biology. While in college she was involved in organizations that focused on student mental health, international public health, and local healthcare disparities in Southern California. Her experience as a Health Advocate at Pomona Valley Hospital motivated her to work to eliminate the language, cultural, and economic barriers that prevent patients from getting the care they need. After graduating she returned to the Bay Area to work at Planned Parenthood, where she worked directly with a diverse patient population and helped launch and coordinate primary care services at that site. This experience strengthened her commitment to partnering with underserved communities and providing compassionate and accessible care. Sabrina enjoys singing, swimming, and painting. She is excited to continue advocating for marginalized communities at UCSF alongside her PRIME-US cohort.
Jessa was born in Paso Robles, California. After supporting a community health project in Peru, and learning to cope with her own medical challenges, she became passionate about addressing global health inequities. She attended UCLA, where she studied international development and public health. After graduating, she completed her postbac at Bryn Mawr College. Since then, she has continued to follow her community health passion, working closely with students and families in East Palo Alto as the Health Fellow at The Primary School. There she was able to work across the school, local FQHCs, families, mental health agencies, and other community partners to ensure holistic support for each child and family. She is excited to continue serving children and families around the Bay Area, and improve the siloed systems that families so often navigate alone. In her spare time, Jessa loves to adventure outdoors, sing to Broadway tunes, rock climb, and bake.
Riya was born in India and raised in Southern California where she grew up in a working class and intergenerational home. She attended UC Berkeley for her undergraduate and graduate studies in public health and epidemiology/biostatistics. As a student, she helped organize community-based health screenings, supported labor organizing efforts, and conducted research on health in all polices programs and neighborhood health. These experiences strengthened her commitment to medicine, public health research, and political and labor organizing as mechanisms for structural change. After graduating from her MPH program, Riya worked at the UCSF Epidemiology/Biostatistics department to analyze geospatial patient data to identify patterns of patient health in order to inform health system programming and develop an interactive mapping tool to democratize access to population health data and push for investigation of place-based social determinants of health.
Kristienne was raised in Sacramento, California. In high school, her love for sports led her to become a long-term coach for Special Olympics, from which she learned the value of uplifting language and community-building. As a camp counselor, supporting campers with developmental disabilities fostered her desire to ensure inclusion, enthusiasm, and empathetic communication are also present in health care spaces. At UCLA, her studies in Human Biology & Society and Global Health encouraged her to think critically about the intersections of science and society. Her research on weight stigma reinforced her attention to how psychosocial factors impact well-being. After graduating, Kristienne became a social caseworker at the Mobile Clinic Project, providing medical and social services to houseless individuals in Los Angeles. Her commitment to urban populations is deeply rooted in this experience. Kristienne enjoys being outdoors, listening to live music, and watching musicals. She is ecstatic about joining the PRIME-US family.
Christian Garcia Hernandez
Christian grew up in the San Fernando Valley and graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a B.S. in Biology and a Minor in French. There, he volunteered with SALUD, a group that helped provide health resources to the local Latino community. He helped lead sessions on mental health with high school students and was a mentor and tutor. He then joined AmeriCorps as a City Year member at a high school in South Central LA providing social-emotional and academic support to his students. Christian also worked at Children’s Hospital LA as a Clinical Research Assistant in the Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Team. As a first-generation college student from a low socioeconomic status, he is extremely excited to join PRIME-US. He plans to pursue a career in Primary Care and commit to working in underserved communities. Christian loves soccer, Hip-Hop/R&B music, eating, and hiking.
Amanda is from La Habra, CA and graduated from Pitzer College (‘16) with a degree in Human Biology and Chemistry. At Pitzer, Amanda participated in public health research, in addition to health education and outreach. Her work centered on the healthcare concerns of underserved populations, particularly Latinx and LGBTQ+ communities. After college, Amanda completed a Fulbright Fellowship in Vigo, Spain where she taught English and volunteered as a youth health educator. After returning to California, she conducted pharmaceutical research and assisted with disability evaluations for Veterans Affairs. Currently, Amanda teaches Language Arts and serves as a programming and outreach assistant for the LGBTQ+ Center of Orange County’s Transgender and Healthcare Services divisions. While a medical student, she intends to explore health equity and policy in the Bay Area, as well as continue to promote patient advocacy and education. Amanda is thrilled and honored to be a part of PRIME-US!
Vishalli grew up in Antioch, California and completed her undergraduate degree in Molecular and Cell Biology and Global Poverty at UC Berkeley. Vishalli developed a passion for equity and anti-racist activism through her experiences as the first South Asian Student Body President of UC Berkeley. After graduating, she conducted research on trauma-informed care for low-income women of color living with HIV at UCSF. She then helped establish the UCSF Center to Advance Trauma-informed Care and completed her Masters in Public Health, where she furthered her interest in health care delivery models. Most recently, Vishalli served as the Senior Project Manager for the California ACEs Learning and Quality Improvement Collaborative– a statewide initiative to develop the evidence base for how to effectively screen for and respond to adversity for low-income Californians. Vishalli is committed to centering vulnerable populations in her practice and research and is grateful to join the PRIME-US cohort!
Health Equity is something Justin cannot separate from his upbringing, and several key experiences in his life. Justin proudly calls South Sacramento his home. Throughout his years serving patients, he recognizes his community’s chronic disease outcomes through the historical context of community disinvestment. At UC Davis, Justin served on behalf of the student-run clinic Clínica Tepati advocating on behalf of Sacramento’s undocumented and unsheltered community. After finishing his Post-Baccalaureate program at CSU East Bay, Justin served the FQHC LifeLong Medical Care through AmeriCorps service. There, he expanded several of Brookside San Pablo’s Diabetes education programs, conducted Tai Chi/Mindfulness classes, and expanded their fresh vegetable giveaway program. Returning home to Sacramento, Justin worked at FQHC WellSpace Health as Lead Health Educator to create diabetes group class curricula, integrate stress reduction into its one-on-one diabetes curriculum, and initiated its endocrinology-health education program. During his free time, Justin enjoys gardening, cooking/trying new foods, and listening to podcasts.
Oseas (pronounced OH-SAY-US) is a 25 year old Puerto Rican from Milwaukee, WI. He enjoys music, art, biking and neuroscience. He grew up in the city and it is his first time living outside his hometown (he is especially excited to not experience a blizzard again for a few years). He graduated from UW-Milwaukee in 2018 and majored in Psychology/Biochemistry. Since then he has worked at a community clinic as a Public Ally (an AmeriCorps program) serving an uninsured/undocumented Latino population and most recently as a lab tech in a molecular oncology and genetics laboratory in Milwaukee. He is currently planning to go into Psychiatry and is planning to focus on urban, underserved populations.
Ciaran was born and raised in San Francisco. While growing up in the city he involved himself in various service positions. After graduating with a degree in biochemistry from Boston College, he worked with the Washington AIDS Partnership in Washington, D.C. This role allowed Ciaran to work with various public health agencies that share the collective goal of reducing HIV transmission rates and alleviating the stressors of poverty. Over the course of this yearlong fellowship, he witnessed the insidious ties that exist between health, poverty, and addiction. Since moving back to the West Coast Ciaran spent time working as an EMT and with the Santa Cruz County Syringe Exchange Program. He hopes to integrate the framework of harm reduction from this program with his continuing medical education. In his free time Ciaran loves to go mountain biking and relax in the many parks around SF.
Antonio was born and raised in Garden Grove, CA. Growing up in low socioeconomic, Hispanic immigrant community exposed him to the health and societal related inequities prevalent in these vulnerable communities and helped foster a passion for service to the individuals affected. In 2019, he graduated from UC Berkeley with degrees in Public Health and Molecular and Cellular Biology. Throughout his undergraduate career, Antonio continued to work with underserved communities as a Program Coordinator with Health Leads in Contra Costa County. There he coordinated with physicians and community leaders to support and connect patients with resources to tackle social determinants of health ranging from food insecurity to mental health to legal support. Since graduating, he has been working at UCSF as a Junior Specialist with the Fung Lab researching the reproductive toxicities of tobacco/e-cigarette related compounds in various model organisms. When he’s not working on an experiment or volunteering, Antonio enjoys cooking, eating with friends and watching the latest binge-able Netflix tv show.
Elizabeth was born and raised in San Francisco, California to a Mexican-American family. Her family and the many immigrant communities in the Bay are the basis for her desire to serve marginalized communities. She attended UC Davis and in 2019 received her degree in Neurobiology, Physiology, & Behavior and minored in Spanish. She volunteered with Shifa Community Clinic, providing free, culturally competent healthcare to the diverse, uninsured immigrant population of Sacramento. During her service on ASUCD’s Academic Affairs Commission, she advocated for increased mental health services, culturally competency, and pushed for equity in academic spaces. As the Student Representative to the Academic Senate’s Grade Change Committee, Preparatory Education Committee, and Undergraduate Council, she advocated for students to the administration and faculty. In her final year at UCD, she was a student advisor to the Dean and Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education. Elizabeth is excited to join PRIME-US and continue her community advocacy, learn from leaders in combating health disparities and serve her hometown.
Taryn was born in Berkeley, California and raised in Murphys, California. Growing up in a rural, under-resourced community, she recognized how detrimental limited access to healthcare was for both the individual and the community-at-large. After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in Painting, she moved to New York to complete a post-baccalaureate at Columbia University. While in New York, Taryn worked with a free clinic and outreach program to promote greater access to care and preventative services. She then worked on a study examining the effectiveness of brief healthcare interventions on sexual health, substance use, and mental health among justice-involved populations. She is excited to return to California and continue working on health disparities with PRIME-US. In her free time, Taryn loves painting, cooking, hiking, and spending time with her friends.
Stephanie was born in Los Angeles, California but was raised in Tijuana, Mexico. At the age of eight, she immigrated to the U.S. and settled in the predominantly low-income city of Huntington Park, California. As the daughter of undocumented immigrants, she quickly realized how the unjust lack of access to quality healthcare afflicted her community which in turn ignited her desire to provide equitable access to healthcare. She graduated from UCLA with a degree in Biology and a minor in Global Health. During undergrad, she was a director for the Latino Student Health Project which organized health fairs aimed at addressing health disparities in medically underserved communities in Los Angeles and Tecate, Mexico. After graduating, Stephanie worked with Physicians for Social Responsibility where she supported a coalition of physicians and advocates providing medical assistance to Central American refugees. Stephanie loves the outdoors and is thrilled to be joining the PRIME-US family!