KGI Announces L.A. Care Scholars in Inaugural Master of Science in Community Medicine Program

CLAREMONT, CA - With the start of the 2021-2022 academic year right around the corner, Keck Graduate Institute (KGI)'s inaugural cohort of 22 students in the brand-new Master of Science in Community Medicine (MSCM) program—the first degree offered in KGI's innovative School of Medicine—are about to begin their journeys toward becoming qualified health professionals. 

Representing diversity in age, race, and gender, these students will be L.A. Care Scholars, thanks to a generous $5 million grant from L.A. Care Health Plan's Elevating the Safety Net, an initiative to address a looming physician shortage in Los Angeles County.

”KGI's School of Medicine has recruited a diverse group of scholars who will serve as a pipeline for physicians into the L.A. County safety net. Ultimately, they will help to advance health equity in communities that are currently underserved,” said John Baackes, L.A. Care CEO. “Our commitment is an exciting addition to our Elevating the Safety Net initiative, and we are honored to support this program.”

The MSCM program will prepare these L.A. Care Scholars in community medicine to become future healthcare providers. They will gain the skills necessary to engage hard-to-reach communities, foster strong positive relationships, and understand their health priorities. Additionally, these students will empower the communities where they serve to increase accessibility and utilization of quality health interventions and programming. 

“I am incredibly grateful for L.A. Care’s generous scholarship, as it helps reduce the financial barriers on my path to medical school,” said L.A. Care Scholar Jessica Abrolat. “This scholarship allows my wife and I to live off a single income and enables me to fully invest myself in this master’s program without the burden of additional debt. I am so appreciative to be given this opportunity to be a part of the KGI MSCM program and I will pay this generosity forward through the rest of my future career in community medicine.”

All courses in the MSCM program will be taught online, and students will be able to work in their local communities during their capstone community experience. Many students in the MSCM program will continue to medical school or obtain healthcare positions within their communities immediately following graduation.

“It’s so important to train providers to truly address the needs of their patients, so patients feel their life is valued," said Dr. Monique Williams, KGI's MSCM Founding Program Director. "I’m excited that our inaugural class of L.A. Care Scholars will know their communities on a deeper level, allowing them to make a direct impact on the lives of patients.”


“I have seen the prevalence of health inequity on local, national, and global scales, and I wanted to be in a program that would help me to become a socially competent physician,” said L.A. Care Scholar Oluwatobi Theresa Uwe. “The MSCM program will expose me to different healthcare populations so I am well-equipped to treat patients from various backgrounds.”

Meet the L.A. Care Scholars

Gioranah Abellard

  • Hometown: Brockton, MA
  • Undergraduate institution: Framingham State University 
  • My family has been one of the greatest motivators. They have helped guide me to achieve my goals, and I hope to bring about change for them and all families alike. 

Jessica Abrolat

  • Hometown: Claremont, CA
  • Undergraduate institution: University of the Pacific
  • I am driven by my curiosity, joy of learning, and passion for imparting a positive impact on this world and those around me.

Mary Akinmurele

  • Hometown: Portsmouth, VA 
  • Undergraduate institution: Sonoma State University
  • Wanting to support my family for all the sacrifices that they have made for me and inequalities for minorities. 

Lara Aziz

  • Hometown: Erbil, Kurdistan
  • Undergraduate institution: San Diego State University
  • My passion for medicine and patient care is what drives me to succeed in my field.

Sally Bachori 

  • Hometown: Baghdad, Iraq 
  • Undergraduate institution: San Diego State University 
  • The adversities my family and I faced as refugees motivate me to succeed in the field of medicine.

Adriana Briones-Cordova

  • Hometown: Pomona, CA
  • Undergraduate institution: Yale University
  • My goal to succeed in the medical field is driven by my wish to diminish health disparities and raise awareness about the social determinants of health to improve communities' health outcomes like the one I grew up in. Listening to my parents tell me about their journey from Guanajuato, Mexico, to California and understanding how much they sacrificed so that my siblings and I would have the opportunity to grow up in the United States drives my wish to succeed in anything I do.

Valentin (Val) Felix

  • Hometown: Bellflower, CA
  • Undergraduate institution: Claremont McKenna College
  • Living and experiencing systemic inequalities that make living a happy and healthy life so much harder for BIPOC and other disadvantaged communities. 

Vadim Gaynaliy

  • Hometown: I live in Portland, OR
  • Undergraduate institution: Concordia University, Portland
  • I think that current events, including how diseases and epidemics are handled in a society that is becoming ever more interconnected, will become increasingly important. There is a real need for public health workers to focus on variant intervention and prevention strategies, and the inevitable spread of populations in the United States will necessitate community-based health maintenance solutions. 

Manni Golbarg

  • Hometown: San Diego, CA
  • Undergraduate institution: University of California, San Diego
  • Wanting to better the health outcomes of patients and making a deeper impact in the lives of patients, especially in underserved communities.

Allyssa Gomez

  • Hometown: Fresno, CA
  • Undergraduate Institution: California State University, Fresno
  • "Always leave a place better than you found it", a saying shared by my 5th-grade math teacher at KIPP Academy in Fresno, CA. This saying is one of the driving forces in why I choose to continue on my journey to becoming a physician. By continuing my education and success in the healthcare field, I hope to gain the skills and resources to bring back to my community and share what I have learned with others so that they too can help offset the healthcare disparities that plague the Central Valley. In doing so, I hope to "leave a place better than I found it". 

 Janae Hawkins

  • Hometown: Oakland, CA
  • Undergraduate institution: California State University, East Bay
  • What drives me to success is that I know my goal is to help disenfranchised communities.  

Citlali Maldonado

  • Hometown: Compton, CA
  • Undergraduate institution: University of San Francisco
  • What drives my success in my field is going back home to serve my community and creating a sustainable behavioral health organization for teens. 

Rocky Mobley

  • Hometown: Camarillo, CA
  • Undergraduate institution: University of La Verne
  • A good attitude and constant effort are what drive me to succeed in achieving my goals, along with support from others.

Monica Morales

  • Hometown: Napa, CA 
  • Undergraduate institution: Sonoma State University 
  • What drives me to succeed in my field is realizing that it lacks diversity, and I am contributing a small portion in being a mentor to other minorities who aspire to become physicians or in the medical field in general. 

Omar Munoz

  • Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
  • Undergraduate institution: Medical Education and Training Campus, San Antonio, TX; George Washington University, Washington, DC
  • I am driven by helping others through my service. From serving in the military to working in public health, I strive to do my best to provide the highest level of care to my community.

Ellie Obrochta

  • Hometowns: Huntsville, AL, and Anchorage, AK
  • Undergraduate institution: University of Redlands
  • I measure success by how much I am able to embody the sort of efforts in public health I believe in. What drives me to pursue my goals is a desire to help build a healthy community, advocate for change in the medical field, or learn more about how to support sustainable health through research. Any step that leads me (or a community) towards that direction is success! 

Erdwin Orellana

  • Hometown: Los Angeles, CA 
  • Undergraduate institution: University of California, Irvine
  • The opportunity to provide any form of support to someone vulnerable in a clinical setting can change their outlook on life and the outcome of their illness. This is my motivation to succeed in my career.

Ei Ei Phyo

  • Hometown: Stockton, CA
  • Undergraduate institution: San Francisco State University 
  • What drives me to succeed in my field is my personal experience and using that as a motivation to reach my goal. 

Karina Quiroz

  • Hometown: Santa Ana, CA
  • Undergraduate institution: California State University, Los Angeles
  • A smile is the most physical expression of happiness. However, many communities of color don’t receive oral healthcare or treatment until they are in unbearable pain. I endeavor to work with communities to strengthen their understanding of how their oral health is related to their physical wellness so that communities can thrive with healthy smiles.

Ariel Reyes

  • Hometown: La Ceiba, Honduras 
  • Undergraduate institution: University of California, Riverside 
  • To empower the Latino community living in the United States. 

Dorothy Tatad

  • Hometown: Granada Hills, CA
  • Undergraduate institution: Cal State East Bay
  • Everyone deserves quality healthcare. I'm tired of seeing people not receive the care they need because of discrimination or their financial situation. I want to help my community not only get the care that they deserve, but also be able to thrive.

Oluwatobi Theresa Uwe

  • Hometown: Grayson, GA
  • Undergraduate institution: The University of Georgia
  • Seeing the prevalence of health inequity on local, national, and global scales motivates me to become a socially competent physician. 


About Keck Graduate Institute (KGI)

KGI, a member of The Claremont Colleges, is a recognized leader in biotechnology and healthcare education. KGI offers innovative postgraduate degrees and certificates that integrate life and health sciences, business, pharmacy, engineering, and genetics, with a focus on industry projects, hands-on industry experiences, and team collaboration.

A member of The Claremont Colleges, KGI employs an entrepreneurial approach and industry connections that provide pathways for students to become leaders within healthcare and the applied life sciences. KGI consists of three schools: Henry E. Riggs School of Applied Life Sciences, School of Medicine, School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. For more information, follow KGI on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.