L.A. Care Announces New Group of Elevating the Safety Net Scholars

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Monday, July 20, 2020

Eight Students of Color Will Receive Full Medical School Scholarships

LOS ANGELES — The COVID-19 pandemic put a glaring spotlight on health disparities in communities of color. Experts point to underlying chronic medical conditions in these communities as one explanation for the disparity. Many experts also have long said poor health outcomes in minority communities can be linked to a lack of diversity in the health care profession. L.A. Care Health Plan, the nation's largest publicly operated health plan, is working to address that.

Today, L.A. Care is announcing its third group of Elevating the Safety Net Scholarship awardees.

"We are proud to say that all eight of these medical school students are people of color," said John Baackes, L.A. Care CEO. "All have expressed a great desire to work in underserved communities, and we know that they will have a tremendous impact on health outcomes in those communities."

In 2018, L.A. Care launched Elevating the Safety Net, a five-year, $155 million initiative to recruit highly qualified primary care physicians into the Los Angeles County safety net. Safety net providers offer access to care regardless of a patient’s ability to pay, and many work with communities of color. The scholarship program serves as a pipeline into the safety net.

Four of the 2020 L.A. Care Elevating the Safety Net Scholars will attend the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

"These scholarships embody our shared values with L.A. Care — we are two organizations deeply committed to eliminating inequities and lifting up communities in need," said Kelsey C. Martin, MD, PhD, Dean, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "The scholars who receive the L.A. Care Elevating the Safety Net Scholarships will be able to pursue medical disciplines that they are enthusiastic about, ultimately broadening healthcare access and elevating treatment for some of the most under-resourced populations in Los Angeles."

Emily Martey, who majored in biology at Cornell University, is one of the UCLA scholars.

"College was expensive, and my parents were really concerned about the additional financial burden of medical school. This generous scholarship offers both financial relief and encouragement for the journey ahead."

The scholars who will attend the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA are:

  • Eric An, UCLA Major: Psychobiology; Fuller Theological Seminary PhD: Clinical Psychology
  • Samantha Garcia, USC Major: Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
  • Emily Martey, Cornell University Major: Biology
  • Precious Moman, San Diego State University Major: Biology


Four of the L.A. Care Scholars will attend the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.

"I cannot overstate the importance of these scholarships to our students and to CDU’s ability to fulfill its mission, which is aligned with that of L.A. Care," said Deborah Prothrow-Stith, MD, Dean and Professor of Medicine for the College of Medicine, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. "Graduating from medical school without debt is a gift that will keep on giving throughout the lives of the recipients, their families and the communities they will serve. With these leading edge scholarships, L.A. Care has helped us stay current with the trends toward making medical school more accessible to outstanding students. Thank you, L.A. Care!”

Jahmil Lacey, who majored in Economics and Urban Studies at Morehouse College, is one of the CDU scholars.

"I think for people from my community of South L.A., our health care system requires people like myself to be in places where we can help heal people and help transform systems, and so I’m really grateful to L.A. Care for this scholarship.”

The scholars who will attend Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science are:

  • Ope Akerele, Stanford University Major: Science, Technology and Society
  • Kendra Arriaga Castellanos, UCLA Major: Psychobiology
  • Bryce Bentley, UCLA Major: Physiological Sciences
  • Jahmil Lacey, Morehouse College Major: Economics and Urban Studies


The Elevating the Safety Net initiative includes a program to recruit physicians into L.A. County safety net clinics and practices. So far, 86 physicians have been hired. It also has a loan repayment program for new recruits working in that safety net. Sixty providers have been approved for loan repayment grants. Last year, L.A. Care added a residency support program to the initiative, opening up 14 new residency positions in L.A. County. Like the scholars, these residents will serve as a pipeline into the safety net.

Today, we offer congratulations to our third group of L.A. Care Scholars and wish them the best of luck in their first year of med school.

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About L.A. Care Health Plan

L.A. Care Health Plan serves more than 2.1 million members in Los Angeles County, making it the largest publicly operated health plan in the country. L.A. Care offers four health coverage plans including Medi-Cal, L.A. Care Covered™, L.A. Care Cal MediConnect Plan and the PASC-SEIU Homecare Workers Health Care Plan, all dedicated to being accountable and responsive to members. As a public entity, L.A. Care’s mission is to provide access to quality health care for L.A. County's low-income communities, and to support the safety net required to achieve that purpose. L.A. Care prioritizes quality, access and inclusion, elevating health care for all of L.A. County. For more information, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.


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