Explore Research Innovation at the David Geffen School of Medicine
Maria Tobar, 2014 Recipient.
These awards consist of five scholarships given to outstanding students entering their third year of medical school who have shown leadership in efforts to eliminate inequities in medical education and health care and demonstrated leadership efforts in addressing educational, societal, and health care needs of minorities in the United States.
Maria Tobar is a third-year medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), with a passion for serving underserved rural and urban communities in the United States and internationally. She plans to specialize in either family medicine or emergency medicine. Working in these fields, she is confident that she will build long-lasting, longitudinal relationships with patients and their families as they renew their commitments to health.
Maria’s keen interest in understanding the biological and social determinants of health led to her volunteering at homeless clinics in the United States and with indigenous populations in Colombia, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. Being fluent in Spanish has been an invaluable tool in serving immigrant communities effectively. She helped push forward partnerships between the Latino Medical Student Association and the medical Spanish selective course to supplement resources available to students interested in achieving Spanish fluency.
As a UCLA Programs in Medical Education (PRIME) medical student, Maria will receive a five-year dual degree focused on addressing health care disparities in medically underserved populations. She currently works with vulnerable homeless, immigrant day laborers, and geriatric minority populations within LA County, developing chronic disease prevention tools specific to and sensitive of each culture. As a summer research fellow, she investigated how to culturally adapt physical activity, promoting interventions aimed at preventing stroke among older adult minority populations.
Maria also created a half marathon training/mentorship program between the Lennox School District and the UCLA graduate programs to provide inner-city kids with role models who understand the value of community in maintaining health and achieving personal and professional goals. She designed the program to include family members, neighbors, local businesses, and other members of the community so that in supporting the goals of the younger generations together, they strengthen Lennox as a whole.
Maria is passionate about supporting health through education as well as public policy. She tutored undergraduate students from disadvantaged backgrounds who are interested in careers in health through the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program, and she is currently a peer tutor for UCLA medical students. As part of her dual degree program, she will pursue a master of public policy in the fall of 2015.
Her commitment as a physician will be to deliver care to underserved communities in Southern California and abroad, empowering patients to be their own greatest advocates in health.
Read about all of this year's recipients