Mariam Khan: A Historic Eid Celebration for Returning Citizens

2024-01-12T09:34:04-08:00May 31, 2023|

On May 6, 2023, I had the honor of attending and speaking at the inaugural Anti-Recidivism Eid Celebration for Returning Citizens organized by ISLAH LA, an urban community center in South Los Angeles (LA) founded by Black Muslims. Traditionally, Muslims worldwide come together to celebrate Eid-al-Fitr marking the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and spiritual striving in Islam. What made ISLAH LA’s Eid celebration particularly memorable was its guest of honors, the community members returning from prison in attendance. The program was dedicated to serving those impacted by the United States carceral system and publicly supporting

Mohammad Khorgamphar: Clean Water for All

2023-05-24T08:53:09-07:00May 22, 2023|

Being voiceless in a world that refuses to listen is a challenge many face. The pain of being ignored, unheard, and treated as an outsider in a community that lacks trust is all too familiar for individuals from minority groups, ethnicities, or lower socioeconomic backgrounds in America. This is a story of those who are left alone, struggling with the difficulties of navigating a health care system that they cannot trust. As an immigrant and a first-generation graduate student in my family, I could deeply empathize with the pain and suffering of these individuals. While working at the UCLA

McKayla Poppens: Addressing Disparities in Skin Cancer Prevention

2023-05-18T18:18:29-07:00May 18, 2023|

Everyone enters medicine with the desire to help people. From treating chronic conditions to fixing acute injuries, medicine finds patients in their most vulnerable states. I’ve envisioned a career in community medicine for as long as I can remember, eager to help patients where they are. Even more, preventative care has been a driving motivation for my interest in medicine. My 2023 Health Equity Challenge project is titled “Practice Safe Skin Los Angeles: Reducing Barriers to Sun Protection in Under-Resourced Communities” and aims to bring access to sun protection and education to historically marginalized groups. Although more common in people

Virginia Reyes: Mamas Pueden! Program Creation

2023-05-24T08:54:03-07:00May 17, 2023|

My name is Virginia and I recently graduated with my Master in Public Health in Community Health Sciences! Two of my core classes in Community Health Sciences, CHS 211A and 211B are designed to teach CHS students how to develop, write, and evaluate health programs. In our last year, we must take a comprehensive exam where we create our own program based on what we learned from CHS 211A and CHS 211B. And this is when the idea for Mamas Pueden! (Moms Can!) program was born. For the exam, I was able to combine what I learned from my

Karla Murillo: Addressing Vision Care Disparities Among Jornaleros in Los Angeles

2023-05-24T12:36:06-07:00May 15, 2023|

My mother has now been a farmworker for over 18 years in the Central Valley of California. Her jobs have ranged from seamstress in Downtown Los Angeles, to farmworker in Bakersfield. Helping my mother navigate the downstream consequences of her occupational exposures were the first lived experiences I had interacting with the world of public health. My mother, like many other Mexican immigrants, has endured unsafe, labor-intensive occupations to provide for my siblings and me. Despite our financial difficulties, my mother never expected for me to work during high school, which allowed me to focus on my studies and

Cassandra Lautredou: Navigating Healthcare in the Sprawl: How I Found My Project

2023-05-18T12:56:32-07:00May 15, 2023|

Los Angeles County is a sprawl that covers 4,084 square miles and is bound by salt water, desert, mountains, and asphalt. According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), 69,144 of roughly 9 million Los Angelenos were experiencing homelessness in 2022. Providing care to these folks has not only been the most rewarding, but also the most challenging part of my training in Infectious Diseases and Preventive Medicine at UCLA Health. Within the current constructs of our healthcare system, my individual actions as a physician can only go so far. Aiming to address health at the both the

Katie Fruin: The Homeboy Hydroponic Pilot Farm: Sowing Seeds to Increase Access to Nutritious Produce and Employment for our Formerly Gang-Involved and Previously Incarcerated Community

2023-05-18T12:55:56-07:00May 14, 2023|

  “Only by restoring the broken connections can we be healed. Connection is health. And what our society does its best to disguise from us is how ordinary, how commonly attainable, health is. We lose our health — and create profitable diseases and dependencies — by failing to see the direct connections between living and eating, eating and working, working and loving.”— Wendell Berry The sweetest strawberries I have ever eaten were from my grandma’s garden. Ruby-like treasures sparkling in the sunlight, my grandma’s strawberries were smaller than any I had ever seen at the grocery store with the larger-than-life

Patrick Liu: Communities as the Directors of their Own Story—Towards Community-Owned Design of Healing Systems

2023-05-18T12:56:09-07:00May 14, 2023|

One of the most meaningful pieces of advice I received as a medical student was that “your best teacher is your patient and community.” Yes, while learning about anatomy and diseases and treatments was important to the mechanics of being a doctor — nothing was more important to the art of healing than learning how to really hear what patients were saying — their goals, fears, and stories. Shoutout to Dr. Iljie Fitzgerald and the Healer’s Art for sharing this value with me. As I continued with my medical training, I learned from peers, nurses, residents, and physicians who

Nikolas Wianecki: Caring for the Future: The Role of Caregivers in a Changing Climate

2023-05-18T12:55:47-07:00May 12, 2023|

Growing up in Los Angeles, I remember dreading the scorching hot days of summer when even the slightest movement could leave you feeling completely drained. But what I didn't realize until later is that heat waves are not just an uncomfortable nuisance, they can actually be deadly. In fact, Southern California is the only region in the US with recorded heat-related deaths in the winter. And sadly, this issue will only get worse in the face of climate change, as California is predicted to experience more frequent, more intense, and longer-lasting heat waves in the coming years. As a Master

Purnima Mudnal-Bharath: Grow Together: Implementing an Education-Based Social Supports Intervention to Reduce Overweight/Obesity Among Children with Autism

2023-05-18T12:55:35-07:00May 10, 2023|

More than 40% of fifth graders in Riverside County, California, were considered overweight/obese in 2019 ( and this has likely worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Research has shown children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other special health care needs are at a higher risk for unhealthy weight. Early identification of excessive weight gain in children and identifying ecological approaches to behavior change are key to preventing and reducing childhood obesity. Intervention efforts that are multi-level and multi-sectoral can help support preventive weight gain efforts in these children.Grow Together, a family-oriented, education-based social and peer supports intervention, plans to bring

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