Class of 2018
Jason Alvarado MD
Born and raised on the north side of Chicago. Really Chicago, not the suburbs ;-). I was exposed to medicine from a very young age with an ER nurse mother and Chicago Fire Department Paramedic father, but it was during a summer medical mission to a small town in Peru when I officially came to the realization that my destiny was in medicine. Throughout medical school I was the typical student who liked everything and really disliked nothing. More than anything, what I really enjoyed was developing personal relationships with my patients. When it came time to decide what type of medicine I would like to practice for the rest of my life, Family Medicine was the perfect choice.
I knew Harbor was the place for me from the first moment I met other residents in the program. It was obvious that the atmosphere was one of incredible support and camaraderie. My interview experience at Harbor sealed the deal for me as I witnessed firsthand how committed every resident is to advocating for their patients, and how much the faculty is driven to help produce an amazing group of physicians. I could not be happier with my decision to join the family here.
Languages: English and Spanish
Who/What inspires me: I find inspiration in all those people who have played a role in getting me to where I am today.
Interests: Cycling, Tennis, Spending time with my wife, dog, family, and friends.
Celebrity Crush: Olivia Munn
Jennifer Auf der Springe MD, MPH
MD: University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
MPH: University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
BA: Health and Humanity, University of Southern California
Destination: LA County Ambulatory Care Network- Bellflower
I was born in the Netherlands to a Dutch-Indonesian family, and when I was 8 years old, we immigrated to Washington state, where I stayed throughout high school. When I graduated, I began to travel on my own, curious to see what else was out there and where I might be able to make a difference. Because I thought health was the most fundamental human right, I participated in a number of health-related projects. The more trips I went on, though, the more I began to realize that true change requires long-term investment and community-based leadership. So my focus shifted to building a specialized skill set that I could offer existing efforts that had better chances of sustainability. I also wanted to find a home base where I could see myself staying and thriving.
I first came to LA for college and was completely taken with its celebration of diversity and respect for what every culture brings to the table. There is also a great sense of positivity, collaboration, and entrepreneurship here. After college, I spent some time working as a community health educator in a federally qualified health center in Chinatown. I really liked the clinic setting and overall goals of the work but felt somewhat frustrated that I didn’t always have the full picture when working with patients.
The experience solidified my decision to put in the extra years of education and training to become a physician. I hope one day to return to a similar setting and provide comprehensive primary care to patients who need it most. I’m very excited to be at Harbor-UCLA, because the program shares my priorities and continues to be supportive of my development, both personally and professionally.
Languages: English, Spanish, Dutch
Who/What inspires me: People who work together in creative ways to effect lasting change
Interests: Volleyball, cooking/eating, farmers markets, exploring new places, and of course the beach
Darcy Benedict MD,MPH
From my own life experiences, I recognize that many of us have faced challenges that are not readily apparent. This has driven my strong sense of social justice and commitment to improving health equity, especially for the most marginalized populations, whose optimal health is often impeded by factors beyond their control. While caring for homeless, immigrant, uninsured, low-income, and minority populations, I have become keenly aware of the extent to which social determinants of health and policy decisions can impact the health and overall quality of life within historically disenfranchised communities. Continuing to work with urban underserved populations has helped broaden my clinical understanding and appreciation for not only the challenges, but also the assets within these communities. It is this strength and resilience that resonates with me, and has been a major motivator in my drive to become a family physician, so that I may contribute to this process, one individual, family, or community at a time. I chose Harbor-UCLA Family Medicine because of its shared mission, strongly rooted in social justice, and the truly passionate and inspired residents and faculty I met who view our role in society not just as physicians, but as advocates for the patients and communities we serve.
Languages: Less than adequate Spanish, but I’m learning more every day!
Hobbies: Cooking, eating, music, houseplants, NPR, hiking, roadtrips, the beach
Who/What inspires me: My Aunt Sandi. Says what she thinks, means what she says, and she is the bravest person I know.
Celebrity crushes: David Bowie, Keegan Michael Key, Mila Kunis
Joshua Busse MD
I grew up in Honolulu, HI and moved to Los Angeles to attend USC. While I will always consider Hawaii my home, 8+ years in California have shown me that this place is pretty awesome, too. I became a doctor because I enjoy the opportunity to work with an incredibly diverse group of individuals while providing comfort and guidance during some of life’s toughest challenges. Although there are many professions that have similar goals, my experiences with international medical volunteer work through Global Medical Brigades and Healing Hearts Across Borders played a significant role in leading me down this path.
During medical school I had a difficult time deciding on a specialty, but I eventually came to the realization that Family Medicine was the best fit for me. While on the interview trail, Harbor’s FM program stood out to me for a number of reasons including its strong sense of community; the caring, dedicated staff; and the opportunity to practice medicine in a multicultural and underserved community in sunny Southern California.
Languages: English, some Japanese, and some Spanish
Who/What inspires me: My friends and family, music, and my crazy co-interns/residents
Interests: Addiction Medicine, DJing, Global Medicine, Hiking,Music Production (mostly mashups and premixed DJ sets), Surfing, Swimming, Traveling (US and abroad)
Celebrity Crush: Zac Efron
Zareen Choudhury MD
I am born and raised in sunny Las Vegas, NV. While Las Vegas is my home, I always loved California. I studied Public Health and Economics at UC Irvine. I worked as an Academic Advisor, organized Relay for Life, and researched vaccine development for HSV-1 at UCI Medical Center. I always knew that I wanted to become a physician and went back home to Nevada for medical school. I was able to have incredible experiences including working as a medic at Burning Man and a public health project in Nicaragua. I loved obstetrics and women’s health, and matched into OB/GYN at Harbor UCLA. While I enjoyed taking care of female patients, I realized that I wanted to take care of patients from all walks of life and become a primary care physician. I not only wanted to train, but also give back to the community. I admired the work that Harbor’s Family Medicine Program does for LA county. I was thrilled to match with this incredible program and have never been happier. I know that this program will help me become the best Family Medicine doctor I can be.
Who/What inspires me: The patients and our amazing faculty and residents in Harbor Family Medicine, who inspire me every day to be a better doctor, patient advocate, and human being!
Interests: Hot yoga, Hermosa Beach, hiking, family, dinner with friends, traveling to a new place, dancing to live music
Celebrity Crush: Leonardo DiCaprio…..I’ll never let go.
Ruth Getachew MD
MD: Charles R Drew Medical Education Program/ David Geffen School of Medicine; University of California, Los Angeles
BS: Molecular cell Biology, immunology emphasis; University of California, Berkeley
Destination: Working per Diem
I grew up half my life in Ethiopia and the other in California. From a young age I wanted to be a doctor because I was intrigued by the science of diseases and I enjoyed caring for people. I own my successes to people in my community: from my neighbors and friends, to my teachers and mentors; as a result I strive to find ways to continue working within the community. I am very lucky to find my two passions (medicine and community activism) in one place, Harbor-UCLA Family Medicine.
Languages: Amharic, English, Spanish
What/Who inspires you: coffee, Family, everyday people with interesting life stories
Interests: travel, writing
Michael Granados MD
Born in Long Beach and raised in Bellflower, CA (18 miles southeast of LA). I attended UC Berkeley for undergrad where I majored in Molecular and Cell Biology. At Berkeley, I was heavily involved in the Biology Scholars Program as a chemistry tutor and after graduation, worked as a Program Advisor. I obtained my M.D. at UC San Diego where I was an active member of the Latino Student Medical Association. I decided to come to Harbor-UCLA for residency because I am committed to serving the underserved and at Harbor, because we work with some of the most disenfranchised populations in Los Angeles County.
Languages: English, Spanish
Who/What inspires me: My family, especially my Son’s laughter and happiness. Courage and compassion. Unknown possibilities. Being surrounded with people that strive for equality. And last but not least, hearing my patient’s stories.
Interests: Dodgers Stadium (Let’s go Dodgers), Staples Center, too many restaurants to list
Celebrity Crush: Jenny from the block
I was born and raised in Chicago. When I was growing up, I first became interested in medicine through a family member who was sick and received lots of care from medical doctors. At Cal, I was a sports medicine intern and got experience working in the training room and on the sidelines for various Cal teams.
After I graduated, I moved to San Francisco where I worked as a research assistant and a medical assistant to gain more experience before applying to medicine school. I also traveled to Honduras to setup a mobile clinic and treat patients without access to medical care. During my time there, I noticed an overwhelming number of patients suffering from infectious diseases that were likely a result of unsanitary living conditions. This experience was extremely rewarding and reinforced my desire to pursue primary care, a field where I can be a part of disease prevention as well as treatment.
I then attend medical school at the University of Illinois at Chicago where I knew I wanted to become involved with my local community, working particularly with patients who have limited resources and taught a nutrition course for patients of a local free clinic.
I chose Harbor because of their dedication to the urban underserved, the opportunities to get involved in the community, and the opportunities to get experience in sports medicine. It was a perfect combination of all of my interests!
Languages: Mandarin Chinese and Spanish
Who/What inspires me: My amazing family and friends – every day!
Interests: Volleyball, Cal Football – I’m a huge fan of Cal Football. I never missed a home game in college and since leaving SF, I’ve travelled at one road game each year. GO BEARS!
Celebrity Crush: Aaron Rodgers and Ryan Reynolds
Elise Madrid MD
I grew up in El Paso, TX and part of what I value in Family Medicine is participating in the care of diverse group of patients. I am passionate about preventative care and forming long-term relationships with patients. I came to medicine with a background in infectious disease spending a summer in Peru going out in the field talking with patients about TB. I felt incredibly privileged when they opened up to us foreigners and gave us a glance into their lives. I furthered my medical interests working in health care shortage communities. I enjoy working in a multicultural, diverse patient population. Additionally, I hope to continue to be involved in medical education and mentorship in order to foster up and coming health care professionals. I am excited to be training here at Harbor-UCLA working with this patient population among dedicated and passionate mentors and peers.
Languages: English, Spanish
Hobbies: Dancing a combination of ballet, hip hop, yoga.
Celebrity Crush – Jason Segel
Helen Song DO, MS
I was born into a Korean immigrant family and raised in the South Bay. Growing up in a multigenerational home with my grandmother living with us, I learned what treasures our elders are and how much we can learn from them. My grandmother with her unending kindness and love definitely left an impression on me, and as she got older and her health began to decline, I realized at a young age the importance of good health. When I entered college, my limited view of the world exponentially expanded as I became friends with different people and took classes that exposed the reality that the world is not so cookie cutter and fair. Thus grew my heart for issues of social justice. My friends and I would visit Skid Row in Downtown LA, an area that is densely populated with the transient population, pass out food, and listen to people’s stories. Every person has the right to be heard, and I felt honored to simply be the person who listened. What fuels my desire to pursue family medicine is the opportunity we have as physicians to provide everyone, whatever background or socioeconomic status, equal quality of care. What drew me specifically to this program at Harbor-UCLA is that it embodies this very desire. I am excited to grow not only as a physician but also a human being alongside my fellow residents and faculty who share this mission.
Languages: English, Korean, Spanish
Who/What inspires me: Martin Luther King, Jr. for his gentle boldness in pursuing what is right. Paul Farmer, physician and founder of Partners in Health, for his pursuit not only to bring medicine where it is much needed but also to sustainably develop opportunities in these areas by training and empowering local people. And sunsets.
Interests: baking banana bread, trying different restaurants in LA, going to art museums, listening to live music, getting lost in a book at a coffee shop
Celebrity Crush: Adam Scott—If only his character in Parks and Recreation, Ben Wyatt, actually existed…
Caleb Vanderveen MD
I was born and raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan where I spent a lot of my formative years working in the corn fields, grocery stores, and auto factories of southwest Michigan. I studied aeronautical engineering as an undergrad and after I graduated, I worked for two years designing private jets in Wichita, Kansas. While I was working, I saw many coworkers and colleagues lose their jobs during the economic recession, which hit the factory workers particularly hard. With this experience fresh in my mind, I decided to take a break from engineering and fulfilled a lifelong dream of backpacking for six months through Latin America. On the way I improved my Spanish, and gained an immense appreciation for the Latin American culture and it’s strong history of resistance to oppression. When I came back to the US, I had made up my mind to pursue medicine, so that I could help people like those I grew up working with, people who had inspired me in my readings and travels, and others both at home and abroad who are marginalized by the healthcare system. I studied medicine in Detroit, a city of contrasts filled with amazing, resilient people that face hardship and inequality on a daily basis, and where I volunteered in the Wayne County Jail as an HIV prevention counselor. These experiences strengthened my passion for social justice and shaped what I wanted in a residency. I came to Harbor because it is a program with excellent training where the residents and faculty are very passionate about their mission of caring for a diverse patient population that otherwise would have very little access to healthcare. I feel fortunate to be able to serve our patients alongside my inspiring colleagues and I look forward to caring for all patients in need, regardless of their background or socioeconomic status.
Languages: English, Spanish
Who/What inspires me: People who fight for the rights and dignity of all, and everyone who strives to build a more just world!
Interests: Backpacking, road trips, exploring LA, political activism, reading, and surfing.
Celebrity Crush: Amy Goodman and Michelle Alexander
Keith Wong MD, MS
Growing up in Southern California, I saw first hand the disparity in healthcare available to recent immigrants. Constantly torn between the American dream and supporting their families, I found many struggled to put food on their table versus address their own health. As such, I sought to reach out to my community to connect available resources to those in need. Through partnerships with community organizations, I was eventually able to organize a local free clinic that served over 500 people at its inaugural event. Taking this passion with me, I continued to serve through UCSD’s free clinic, even after long shifts in the wards. I came to find myself more driven to provide for patients in these settings and to understand their social and economic backgrounds. Overtime, I came to realize that not only did good health mean addressing the needs of the patients, but that it also meant addressing the welfare of their families and their communities. When I found Harbor, I knew that I had found a family who shared my vision and the community to foster me on my journey.
Languages: Chinese (Cantonese), Spanish, English
Who/What inspires me: My family and friends, and the kids in the community
Interests: Tennis, badminton, fishing, photography, motorsports
Celebrity Crush: My fiancé… She’s my rockstar!