Class of 2017
Claudia Alvarez DO
DO: A.T. -Still University-School of Osteopathic Medicine
BS: Biomedical Science, University of South Florida
Assistant Clinical Professor at University of California, Riverside School of Medicine
When I moved to the US from my beloved country of Peru at 16 years of age, a myriad of opportunities and perspectives crossed my path. As a junior in college that I realized that serving my community was the greatest purpose of my life. After learning of all suffering that people of the world were being subjected to due to systems of oppression, my life took a different direction from aiming to be a veterinarian to becoming a healer of humanity. Soon after, I learned that our voices and actions make a positive impact in our communities, I co-founded the Amnesty International chapter at my undergraduate school. Jointly I was able to volunteer and work at free community clinics for the undeserved and the immigrant populations. I was able to continue my activism and passion to serve the community by being involved with the Latino Medical Student Association all throughout medical school. Family Medicine allows me to take care of everyone! So I knew it was the best fit for me and serving my community. Harbor UCLA allows me to fulfill my passion for community medicine and to serve our marginalized and underserved community. I hope to work in urban and rural underserved communities and build a sustainable response for the most indigent communities in Peru and wherever life takes me.
Languages: Spanish, English, Portuguese and French
Favorite quote: “If you have come to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound with mine then let us work together”
What inspires me: My mom and dad…and those who keep fighting for freedom and human rights around the world!
Celebrity crush : Bono
Jonathan Avalos MD
MD: University of Texas, Houston
BA: Psychology, Rice University
Addiction Medicine Fellowship, Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
From an early age, I’ve been compelled by a sensitivity to the suffering of others and an inclination toward problem solving. The son of a microbiologist and a family therapist, I developed an interest in science and an appreciation for emotional well being and social context as determinants of health; an interest in medicine precipitated from this. As I progressed through my training as a family physician, it became evident that substance abuse and addiction undergird a significant proportion of the chronic issues facing my patients. I intend to develop further expertise in substance abuse/addiction to meet this need via a postgraduate fellowship. It’s my aspiration to eventually teach new physicians and research new avenues of addressing the more vexing issues facing medicine including chronic pain, substance abuse and addiction and engaging impaired physicians.
What inspires you: My patients, Hernando deSoto, Woodrow Wilson
Interests: Travel, aviation, vintage cars and motorcycles, my family
Celebrity Crush: Alexa Chung
Piali Basu DO, MPH
DO: Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
MPH: Columbia University
BA: Psychology, Northwestern University
MFI Harbor-UCLA Woman’s Health Fellowship
I am so grateful to be starting my journey in medicine at Harbor-UCLA. For me, choosing family medicine was a natural progression, as it allowed me to integrate several facets that I already love: community medicine, public health, social justice, social determinants of health, advocacy and of course, talking to my patients. I feel that several of my past experiences have led me specifically to this program, from working in community clinics in Spain and Peru, to being a community organizer at the NYU Center for Immigrant Health, to working with the Health and Human Rights team at NESRI, to advocating alongside the ACLU for equal rights for the underserved and crafting a maternal health and nutrition project in rural Kenya. I want to practice medicine within this context, and was thrilled to find a cohort with similar passions at Harbor.
As a native Californian who moved away to Chicago, New York City and Philadelphia for school, I feel especially happy about being back on the West Coast to practice. In Southern California in particular, I feel I am able to enjoy being active outdoors, healthy eating, practice yoga and be closer to my family. I am truly excited about the journey ahead.
Languages I speak: English, Spanish, Bengali
What inspires me: Cooking up delicious new recipes, hiking new trails, running along the water, conversations about social justice, playing with our family pup, long family dinners
My favorite places in LA: Parker Mesa Overlook trail in Pacific Palisades, restaurants in downtown LA (Calori kitchen!), driving down the coast with loud music, my best friends’ couch with dinner on my lap
My celebrity crush: Cooper Freedman from “Private Practice.” Genuine, sweet and nerdy…perfection!
John Chen MD, MS
MD: Michigan State University, College of Human Medicine
MS: Columbia University, Institute of Human Nutrition
BS: University of California, Irvine
Geriatrics Fellowship, University of California, Los Angeles
Born and raised in the DTLA area, I have and still enjoy the melting pot effect of diverse people, food and multi-cultures. Growing up in poverty-stricken, gang-related Lincoln Heights, I strove to address the unmet needs of the underserved populations beyond the four walls of my church community at an early age. My undergraduate and graduate work in Nutrition (NIH and Columbia University, respectively) helped gear me towards alleviating the national epidemic of childhood obesity and its public health implications. Understanding how poverty and power are so intertwined, I pursued a medical career at Michigan State University, College of Human Medicine’s Leadership for the Underserved, where I had the privilege to conduct work in Huancayo, Peru. Finally at Harbor-UCLA Family Medicine, I hope to continue my efforts in serving the disenfranchised patient population, childhood obesity research and global health opportunities.
Languages I speak: English, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish
What inspires me: My faith, family, friends, and my patients
My favorite places in LA: Little Tokyo, The Edison, Koreatown, Hermosa Beach, etc
My celebrity crush: Natalie Portman and Beyonce
Andrew Frerking DO
DO: Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine
BA: Anthropology, George Washington University
Lompoc County Health Clinic, Public Health Department of Santa Barbara County
I came to study medicine via anthropology, so my interest has always been focused on serving the underserved and the sociocultural aspects and determinants of healing and illness. I have also spent time studying migration and health, as well as have an interest in migrant and farm worker health. I have spent time studying and traveling in Oaxaca Mexico, Japan, and the Philippines. I love travel and always enjoy learning new languages. I am hope to continue to develop my skills in family medicine, and feel very privileged to be able to work with patients and physicians here at harbor. I am originally from the Midwest and consider Chicago my hometown. I am very excited to explore LA with my wife Elisa. I am always happy to talk wine and food and travel when not talking medicine and human rights. Again I am so happy to be training here at Harbor!
Languages I speak: Spanish, Japanese, English
What inspires me: physicians dedicated to serving the underserved
My Favorite Places in LA: Little Osaka, beaches anywhere and anywhere with good seafood
Irmina Haq MD, MPH
MD: Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA
MPH: Public Health, University of Southern California, CA
BA: Biology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
BS: Political Science, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
The Children’s Clinic Long Beach
Irmina is originally from Seattle, Washington (GO SEAHAWKS!) but has lived all over the country until fate and residency brought her back to her native West Coast. She completed a year of General Surgery at North Shore- LIJ in New York prior to switching gears and joining Family Medicine. Her decision to switch was driven by a need to integrate a social justice mission with the practice of medicine. Irmina passionately believes that health care is a universal human right and this drives much of her work. During medical school she was Founding Chair of FUNCTIONAL (Free Universal Care in Our Nation), a universal health care advocacy organization. She also completed a MPH with a concentration in health policy, in particular the Affordable Care Act while at USC. Irmina has remained politically active as a Resident Delegate in CIR (Committee of Interns and Residents, the resident union). During her free time, Irmina is a visual artist and spoken word poet, you can find some of work on Instagram and at open mics around Los Angeles. She also loves music and taking advantage of seeing amazing concerts in SoCal.
Things that inspire me: My mom and my grandmother
Favorite Places in LA: downtown Long Beach, North Hollywood
Celebrity Crush: Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy) and Jon Snow (Game of Thrones)
Carina Lopez MD, MPH
MD: University of California, San Diego
MPH: San Diego State University
BS: Psychology, University of California of San Diego, La Jolla, CA
Kaiser Otay Mesa Outpatient Medical Center
I lived in a border town most of my life, embracing the blends of many cultures and languages. However, I was equally aware of the environmental injustices and health disparities that plaque these communities. I wanted to make a difference. After college, I found my passion in community and public health, working with communities to help curb the rates of unplanned teen pregnancies, childhood obesity, and HIV. I really enjoyed working with families and communities to create healthier outcomes. I wanted to combine patient care with public health. So, off I went to medical school to become a family medicine doctor! While in med school, my advocacy for underserved communities grew, as I became involved with the UCSD Student Run Free Clinic, LMSA, providing healthcare to migrant farm workers, mentoring youth, and finding ways to increase the pipeline to higher education. Training at Harbor UCLA for family medicine has been truly amazing (which comes to no surprise!) and rewarding. I am striving to improve health outcomes for the underserved and at the same time have the privilege of working with inspirational co-residents and faculty at Harbor. My goals for the future include practicing full spectrum FM, teaching and working in public health policy as a means to reduce and eventually eliminate health disparities.
Languages I speak: English and Spanish
What inspires me: My family and friends. People who fight for social and environmental justice. Our past civil rights leaders.
Favorite quote: “A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. Martin Luther King, Jr
My favorite places in LA: The beach, any beach. Santa Monica mountains.
My celebrity crush: Kit Harington (Jon Snow from game of thrones!) and Justin Long
Fathima Sarah Nazarkhan MD
MD: David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles
BA: Public Health, University of California, Berkeley
Faculty Harbor UCLA Family Medicine
I am originally from Colombo, Sri Lanka, and lived in Bahrain for a few years before moving to Southern California. Torrance has been home for close to 10 years. My first exposure to medicine—“the spark”—was during one of my visits to Sri Lanka in the late 90s when my maternal grandmother suffered a stroke. Watching the lack of empathy from the doctors towards my family, as well as other discrepancies in health care for underserved populations, motivated me to change the healthcare experience. After volunteering at the Suitcase Clinic at UC Berkeley and the UMMA clinic in South Central Los Angeles, both of which provide care for low-income and underserved patients, I realized that Family Medicine would be the right path through which I could impact lives and pursue my interests in social justice, adolescent medicine, global health and medical education. I am excited to train at Harbor-UCLA and give back to the diverse community of the South Bay.
Languages spoken: English, Tamil, Spanish, some Urdu/Hindi
What inspires me: My family J
My favorite places in LA: The beach!
My celebrity crush: George Clooney, Matt Damon
Freyman Recinos MD
MD: David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles
BA: Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA
Kaiser Gardena Outpatient Medical Center
I was born and raised in Guatemala until the age of 12 years when I migrated to the US. My life story is very unique, full of challenges and success. In short, my father was killed when I was 3 years old and my mother was left alone to care for 3 children (my sister Karen was 5 and my younger brother Jeison was 2). Not able to provide us with a bright future in Guatemala, my mother decided to immigrate illegally to the US. My siblings and I stayed with aunts and uncles and with the hope that one day we will get the chance to see our mother again. My mother worked arduously cleaning houses for 9 years and communicated with us via letters. After several failed attempts to apply for US visas, we managed to get approved for US residency. In 1996, my siblings and I came to the US not knowing a word of English but, nonetheless, we came ready to make the most of the amazing opportunity that my mom gave us. We learned English quickly, succeeded through middle/high school and, ultimately, we all received our undergraduate degrees from UCLA. I completed my medical degree at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and I’ve always been passionate about becoming a family medicine doctor. I am convinced that prevention is the key to living a healthy life and to the many issues that plague our health care system today. I am fluent in Spanish and coming to a county hospital like Harbor-UCLA I truly felt that many patients would benefit from having a Spanish-speaking doctor. Furthermore, working with the underserved population has always been my dream, and although I could have gone anywhere to complete my family medicine training, I would never trade the patient population, amazing teaching faculty and wonderful peers that I have found here at Harbor-UCLA
My favorite quote: beautifully describes why I came to the field of medicine: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” Mahatma Gandhi.
My hobby: soccer! I have been playing since I came to the US and have played very competitively up to now. I hope to make time during residency to continue playing the sport I passionately enjoy.
Languages I speak: English, Spanish
Danielle Williams MD
MD: University of California San Francisco School of Medicine
BS: Biology, Howard University, Washington DC
Roots Community Health Center, Oakland, CA
Family medicine has been my calling for as long as I can remember. I just didn’t know what to call it, until medical school. Growing up in Carson, CA, I witnessed firsthand the violence and poverty in my surrounding communities and the disparities affecting families of low socioeconomic status. I attended King/Drew Medical Magnet High School at a time when the neighboring hospital, King/Drew Medical Center, was no longer able to fully service its community. I saw a need for competent and compassionate physicians who would advocate for their patients. I vowed to continue my journey in medicine and ultimately serve under-represented communities. During college, I was actively involved with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. During medical school, I joined the Student National Medical Association. Through these avenues, I have been able to give back to underserved communities through mentorship, community service, and education. I also have a passion for community based research projects, with my most recent focus centered on trauma informed care and developing trauma screening and intervention protocols for exposed youth.
Languages I speak: English, by the end of this program I hope to say Spanish as well
What inspires me: My family and friends, the great past and present civil rights leaders, African-American trailblazers, people who are selfless
My favorite places in LA: Santa Monica Beach Pier, Dockweiler Beach Bonfires, Do-Over in Hollywood, Six Flags Magic Mountain
My celebrity crush: Rihanna and Idris Elba
Matthew Yu DO
DO: Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine
BS: Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles
LA County Wilmington Family Health Center
Despite graduating college as an engineer, I felt the draw of medicine to help others in a personal way but for years this desire remained stunted by unclear goals. I had many formative experiences with various Christ Community Health Fellowship clinics, Herald Christian Health Center, UCLA Care Extenders and working as a therapist for children affected by autism. Eventually, it was a 6 week summer spent living in inner-city Memphis with Christ Community Health Services that exposed me to health disparities as well as injustices within medicine. I decided I wanted to help those who needed it the most, the marginalized and impoverished. At Harbor-UCLA, I find myself serving a diverse and underserved population alongside residents who share a similar passion. With my patients, I am being continually humbled as my propensity towards holding a savior complex is replaced by admiration for the resiliency of a patient population who as a whole experiences trauma, adversity, prejudice and injustice beyond any movie I have seen. Someday, my wife and I plan to live in the community where we serve, not only as medical and social advocates but also as invested neighbors.
Favorite Quote: “How do you work with the poor? You don’t. You share your life with the poor. It’s as basic as crying together. It is about ‘casting your lot’ before it ever becomes about ‘changing their lot’.” –Father Gregory Boyle (Homeboy Industries)
Languages I speak: English, Chinese (Mandarin)
What inspires me: my faith and my mom who taught me love and strong work ethic
My favorite places in LA: the beach, Pantages theater, Almansor park, Griffith Observatory
My celebrity crush: Charlize Theron vs Penelope Cruz, sophistication vs exotic, who can choose?