UCGHI Master’s Student Stipend Program
The UC Global Health Institute is committed to supporting current University of California master’s students from historically excluded communities with a $5000 research award to support their graduate projects. Research projects that are transdisciplinary with respect to local or global health OR focused on diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in local or global health received the highest preference. UCGHI strives to diversify the global health workforce by providing supplemental funding opportunities for master’s level students from historically excluded communities such as BIPOC students and First-Generation students.
2023 Award Recipients
UC San Diego
Adriana Solis is a first-generation student from Santa Ana, CA who graduated with her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from UC San Diego. After working in the aerospace industry as a Mechanical Engineer, Adriana shifted her focus to pursue Medicine when she acknowledged that the lack of Latine physicians in her community was negatively affecting the health of those around her. As a medical student at the UCSD School of Medicine she continues to fight and advocate for those who are first-generation pre-med students and undocumented, underinsured patients through her involvement with LMSA. As a PRIME-Health Equity scholar and current MPH student Adriana is eager to further her understanding of public health, policy, and behavior as she aims to identify disparities in health treatment based on race/ethnicity, SES and primary language spoken. In her spare time, she enjoys hosting friends to monthly dinners, watching Korean dramas, and dancing.
Camila Solorzano Barrera
I am currently a second-year global health and environment MPH candidate at the University of California, Berkeley (graduation expected in May 2023). I am coming to this project with a background in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), environmental engineering, and some public health experience. Before Berkeley, I lived in Bogota, Colombia working at the intersection of environmental engineering, epidemiology, and global health. My time in Bogota allowed me to engage in water governance work, environmental epidemiology projects, and mHealth related research. While at Berkeley, I have worked as an EHS graduate student instructor and an EPI student researcher. I spent my summer in northern Tanzania conducting field and office work with Health for a Prosperous Nation as part of a UC sexual reproductive health study.
UC Santa Cruz
I am a first generation college student pursuing a Masters of Science in Environmental Toxicology and Microbiology at UCSC, studying therapeutic approaches for treating manganese neurotoxicity. Previous to pursuing my undergraduate career I spent 4 years in the U.S. Air Force as a lead neurosurgery technician. Afterwards, I transferred to UCSC to finish my undergraduate degree, volunteering as a researcher for the Smith Lab. Based on that experience, I was hired as a research staff after graduation, running a behavioral study in rodents to understand how developmental manganese exposure leads to attentional dysfunction, and whether therapeutic agents used to treat ADHD are efficacious in treating the dysfunction. Outside of my research, I am involved in UCSC’s WiSE club as a liaison officer, a domestic violence volunteer for Walnut Avenue Family & Women’s Center, and have joined a local rock climbing gym.
I am a current global health master’s student of the University of California, San Francisco’s Institute of Global Health Sciences with a bachelors of science in biology from the University of San Carlos. My capstone for this program focuses on providers’ perceived barriers and facilitators to achieving viral load suppression for treatment-experienced HIV/AIDS patients in the Philippines. As a local of both California and Cebu City, Philippines, I aim to be a bridge for ideas and make both homes better environments for my communities through community-led health initiatives and being an active practitioner of cultural humility.
I am an emergency medicine research fellow at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) through the National Clinician Scholars Program (NCSP). I have worked in several global contexts including Central America, South America, and East Africa. In 2017, I completed a Doris Duke International Clinical Research Fellowship in Argentina. My international experiences have taught me to be resilient and flexible in the face of unexpected challenges, and how to improvise solutions to novel problems. My research has focused on using the emergency department as a setting to deliver public health services to underserved populations, in both domestic and international settings. I am currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Clinical and Epidemiological Research, which I hope will give me a robust understanding of methodological design and biostatistics. My long-term career goal is become an independently-funded, emergency medicine physician investigator.
I am a first-generation student in the MPH program at UC Davis. Currently, I am interested in improving health communication and education, especially in the context of global health and communicable disease threats. I have a lot of experience working with under-served communities abroad from my time as an undergraduate. From these international volunteer trips, I have learned about the importance of taking a holistic approach to health and the need to approach problems, as a team, to overcome health disparities. When the pandemic hit, it made me reflect on a lot of the passion I had brought, working with community leaders to empower their communities; it made me realize the similar struggles that my deaf, immigrant parents had to go through. It was this realization that made me want to go into public health and work to empower those facing cultural and linguistic barriers to health.
Charles Drew University
My name is Jesus Terrazas, I am a first-generation American citizen and University graduate, son of two Mexican immigrants. I worked as a truck driver for almost 20 years prior to completing my degrees at East L.A. College Community College (ELAC). I graduated from E.L.A.C with honors in 2016 with 4 Associate Degrees, graduated in the Spring of 2022 Summa Cum Lade from Charles R. Drew University with a BS in Biomedical Sciences. Currently a student of an (MS) of Biomedical Sciences program, pursuing a MD/PhD candidacy. Stem Cell Research and the delivery of stem cell therapies are my interest and goals. I just started my 2nd year as a STEMM Instructor with the University, helping provide a more balanced exposure to all inner-city students that find an interest in science, helping them nurture that passion, giving them a fair shot of also pursuing their educational/career dreams.
My name is Zora Joy Nakato from Uganda. I received my undergraduate degree in Mathematics from Makerere University. I am currently a first year student in the MA, Biostatistics program at the School of Public Health, UC Berkeley. My most recent professional experience was working as a Data Officer for the Uganda Virus Research Institute’s IAVI HIV Vaccine Program. My research interests include precision public health, disease modeling, application of machine learning methods in analysis of Electronic Health records, clinical trials design, Reproductive Health Care, and cancer research. My hobbies include cooking, singing, traveling, and hiking.
Juan was born and raised in East Los Angeles California. They are a proud product of community college with hopes of completing a Ph.D. and pursuing a career in academic research. Their areas of interest include HIV, LGBTQ+ health, Harm Reduction, and Carcerality. They currently serve as a graduate student researcher with the UCLA Labor Center working on the California Cannabis Equity initiative which is the first statewide survey looking at the working conditions of individuals in the cannabis industry. Juan strongly believes in the power of mentorship and hopes to serve as a resource to other first-generation underrepresented students who often struggle to see themselves within academia. They are a strong supporter of grassroots organizing and are constantly trying to improve their pedagogy. For self-care, Juan enjoys traveling and trying new restaurants. They are currently on a mission to try every taco stand in East LA.
I was born in Pakistan and migrated to the US with my family at the age of 14 years old to pursue higher education. I witnessed the impact of health disparities and barriers to healthcare in my own family and minority community, which motivated me to volunteer at Shifa Community Clinic to serve the underserved population. I became very interested in how culturally competent care without linguistic barriers can aid in disease prevention and better health outcomes in minority populations. As a woman of color and a first-generation college graduate, I am pursuing an MPH degree to understand the healthcare field better to improve health access for my patients in the future. I hope to be part of the next generation of physicians who encompass the fresh perspectives and diversity that is currently missing. UCGHI grant will help me complete my MPH program requirement and give back to my community.
Maha Zubaidi is a student of the IGHS MS program as well as Stanford University School of Medicine. Born into a Palestinian and Lebanese family, she spent her adolescent years in Qatar before obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Physiology and Neuroscience from UCSD. During her time in San Diego, Maha spent time with the Syrian refugee community through involvement with the Arab Youth Collective. In her gap year before attending medical school, Maha was able to explore her passion for refugee health and developed a particular interest in mental health. She also was able to visit her country of origin, Palestine, for the first time. These experiences led her to pursue a Master’s of Science in Global Health at UCSF between her third and fourth years of medical training. Maha’s goal is to use innovative community based participatory research methods to amplify the needs and voices of Palestinian people
My name is Mariah. I am a second-year Master’s of Public Health student at the University of California, Berkeley, concentrating in Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health. I am passionate about creating a future where the wellness of birthing individuals is of utmost importance, and women’s health is abundantly funded and supported in society. Currently, my interests revolve around the health of Black pregnant people in the United States, and how our collective past and shared experiences today continue to impact our birth experiences. I couple my extensive background in global health with current research in domestic maternal health to stimulate systems-level change in health infrastructure. I enjoy working and learning in dynamic, multi-disciplinary environments that are at the cutting edge of research in public health.
Peter grew up on a small farm in northern Idaho, where he found early inspiration in his parent’s passion for sustainability and local agriculture, as well as exposures to diverse cultures. This inspiration led him to study International Studies and Physics at the University of Idaho. After college, Peter worked as an agriculture extensionist for three years in rural Togo through Peace Corps. His work focused on training small-scale farmers on improved techniques for sustainable agriculture. Upon returning to America, Peter worked in food insecurity outreach through AmeriCorps VISTA, helping increase the capacity of local organizations to serve food deserts in Fargo, North Dakota. As a master’s student in International Agricultural Development at UC Davis, Peter focuses on how participatory extension can improve health and productivity of smallholder livestock in the Global South. His current research focuses on analyzing stakeholder perceptions of animal disease and vaccination in Sierra Leone.
Hailing from a small town in the San Joaquin Valley, Preeti Juturu is a graduate student at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health completing their M.S. in Community Health Sciences. Dedicated to understanding the health needs and inequities experienced by BIPOC, immigrant, disabled, low-income and queer communities within the United States, Juturu's work is multidisciplinary in nature, addressing structural barriers, sociocultural identities, and health disparities. Specifically, Juturu seeks to understand the ways in which social, cultural, built, and natural environments influence health outcomes from a mixed-methods and community-engaged perspective, with the overarching goal of using research to empower communities and inform policy change.
UC San Diego
Rawnaq Behnam is a MPH candidate and the diversity fellowship recipient at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health. She completed her undergraduate degree at UC San Diego in global health and human rights and migration. Rawnaq grew up in Iraq and was displaced due to the ongoing civil unrest with her family to Turkey then the United States. Using her own and her family’s lived experience of displacement, Rawnaq wants to build the evidence on interventions and policy solutions that could improve the health and well-being of refugees in San Diego and globally. She has a particular interest in sexual and reproductive health research and aspires to be a future physician caring for her community and applying a culturally-competent lens to delivering public health and clinical care for displaced individuals
Rushlenne Pascual is a 2nd-year Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology MPH student at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. She was born and raised in Seattle and received her BS in Microbiology and BA in Public Health from the University of Washington. Rushlenne previously worked as a Research Scientist at the UW Neisseria Reference Laboratory, helping with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projects to enhance domestic gonorrhea surveillance and stop the spread of drug-resistant infections. She currently works with Dr. Filipa Rijo-Ferreira to study circadian rhythms of parasitic infections, specifically those of Plasmodium species that cause malaria, and how rhythms in both the parasite and host interface to cause disease. While Rushlenne is fascinated by all things related to infectious diseases, she also enjoys hiking and rock climbing. Her free time is usually spent playing tennis, exploring new dessert places with friends, and being an enthusiastic plant parent.
Samantha (Sam) Macam is a dual Masters of Public Health and Social Welfare candidate at UCLA. As a first-generation college student and daughter of Filipino immigrants, Sam faced many barriers to taking advantage of research opportunities as an undergraduate. Her and her family’s lived experiences with the legal system, intergenerational trauma, and mental health and addiction issues, ground her research endeavors and commitment to social justice and health equity. Her work emphasizes the importance of equitable support and resources for historically marginalized and disenfranchised communities. After graduating, Sam plans to become an LCSW providing mental health services to children, adolescents and their families to support their potential to thrive. This work is also being supported by: Miranda Velasquez, MSW student with lived experience on the impact of community gang violence; Claire Amabile, MPH-MSW candidate who has worked closely with the Coalition for Engaged Education for the past year and has extensive qualitative research experience with UC Speaks Up; and Shannon Dunlap, our MSW capstone mentor.
Sima Naderi is currently a master’s student in the Institute for Global Health Science at UCSF. She completed her undergraduate and master’s in public health at Kabul Medical University (KMU) in Afghanistan. Until 2022, she was an assistant professor at the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, KMU. She also worked at the Afghanistan vice president`s office as the senior data scientist. Her work with UCSF started in early 2021 when she joined the International Traineeships in AIDS Prevention Studies program (ITAPS). Her research area includes maternal and reproductive health and barriers to accessing health services among Afghan populations. She was a co-investigator in several studies jointly conducted by Kabul Medical University, the University of British Columbia, and Can-Health International in Afghanistan.
Dr. Suvarna Kantipudi is the recipient of the Morris Global Health Fellowship from the University of California, Berkeley. She underwent training on Psychiatric Research infrastructure for implementation and intervention (PRIIA) from the University of Pittsburgh as a part of a collaborative National Institute of Health (NIH) grant with India in 2021. In October 2019, she was given an early career psychiatrist award by the World Association of Social Psychiatry and received an international travel grant to attend the World Congress of Social Psychiatry conference in Bucharest, Romania. In 2018, she received an Indian Psychiatric society travel fellowship, a competitive award given to young psychiatrists to receive advanced training in their field of interest. She consistently stood as the best outgoing student from Christian Medical College Vellore during her postgraduate course of Diploma in Psychological Medicine (Florence Nichols Prize-2012) and MD in Psychiatry (Dr. Rose Chacko Prize-2014). She is currently working on evaluating the impact of household air pollution on the neurodevelopmental outcomes of children in India.
Virginia Reyes is a second-year Masters in Public Health student in the Community Health Sciences department at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. A first-generation college graduate, she earned her bachelor's degree in Sociology from UC Berkeley with minors in Global Public Health and Public Policy in 2018. Virginia is passionate about health and food equity in many different capacities. Her previous work/volunteer experience includes CalFresh/Medi-Cal enrollment, maternal and child health education, and community outreach for unhoused individuals. Upon graduation, Virginia hopes to work in the public or non-profit sector to help integrate healthcare and nutrition services so as to address health inequities through research and policy work.