Elevating the Safety Net 2021 Scholarship Recipients

L.A. Care's Elevating the Safety Net Scholarship Program provides eight students up to $350,000 each in full medical school scholarships. This program takes away a huge debt for community-minded physicians that can force them to choose high-profit positions over service in low-income areas.

Now in its fourth year, the program awarded four scholarships to Alexis Aleman, Marilyn Bravo, Matthew Carter and Larissa Nicolas, who are attending Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. The other four scholarships went to Efren Aguilar, Geena Conde, Jermaine (Ehizele) Robertson and Saitiel Sandoval Gonzalez, who are attending David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

youtube iconWatch the 2021 Elevating the Safety Net Scholarship Program videos to hear what these inspiring individuals had to say.

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About the 2021 Scholars


Efren AguilarEfren Aguilar
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Efren was born at LAC+USC Hospital and raised in Mid City Los Angeles. He decided to pursue a career in medicine to ensure communities like his received care that would raise their quality of life. After graduating from Cal State Long Beach in 2016, he worked on a variety of research projects at UCLA and UC San Francisco Medical Center. He is currently a field coordinator at UCLA, working on a drug use intervention trial. Efren hopes to be a family physician and health services researcher in under-resourced communities. 

Alexis AlemanAlexis Aleman
Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science

Alexis was born and raised in Los Angeles. His parents immigrated from Mexico, and they instilled the importance of education in him and his siblings. After graduating from Cal State Northridge, Alexis has served as a research coordinator in the ER Department at Olive View UCLA Medical Center. These research projects look into issues like how immigration status affects delays in care. Alexis says life experiences have taught him the importance of providing compassionate care, and he wants to serve families like his own.

Marilyn BravoMarilyn Bravo
Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science

Marilyn was born in Mexico, and immigrated with her family to Los Angeles when she was three. She knows firsthand the difficulties in navigating health care barriers, such as language and poverty. This is why Marilyn is pursuing a career in medicine, as she hopes to continue to advocate for under-resourced populations. While an undergrad at Brown University, she completed an EMT course, participated in neuroscience research and volunteered in helping families secure free social services and health care.

Matthew CarterMatthew Carter
Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science

Matthew was born and raised in the Metro Detroit area of Michigan. He was inspired to pursue medicine after witnessing the care of family members with chronic health conditions. Matthew graduated from Stanford University in 2019, and spent his time in the Bay Area volunteering with community organizations mentoring underserved youth. He then joined a research lab at UCSF focused on curing genetic diseases. Matthew wants to work in underserved communities to address the same health care challenges that his own family faced.

Geena CondeGeena Conde
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Geena is an L.A. native from Boyle Heights. Her family's limited resources often led them to seek medical care in Mexico, instilling in her a passion for helping others. While an undergrad at UCLA, Geena volunteered with the Mobile Clinic Project and School on Wheels, serving people experiencing homelessness. She is currently doing similar volunteer work with UCLA's Companion Care. In 2016, Geena received the L.A. Volunteer of the Year Award in Health Services from LAC+USC Medical Center, and wants to continue breaking down barriers for underserved populations.

Larissa Garcia NicolasLarissa Nicolas
Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science

Larissa was raised in Inglewood by parents who immigrated from Mexico in search of a better life. Larissa's father passed away her senior year of high school, an event that fueled her desire to pursue a career in medicine. She graduated from UCLA in 2019, and went on to participate in the Post-Baccalaureate Program at Charles R. Drew University. Larissa has tutored at-risk students and assisted people experiencing homelessness as a volunteer. She worked as a Patient Access Representative at MLK Hospital, and is currently in the AmeriCorps Health Fellows Program.

Jermaine (Ehizele) RobertsonJermaine (Ehizele) Robertson
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Ehizele was born and raised in San Bernardino County. His parents immigrated from Nigeria, and he vividly remembers experiencing poverty as well as the difficulty accessing health care and social services. As a UC Berkeley grad with a Master's degree from Johns Hopkins, Ehizele wants to use his medical career to extend quality health care to under-resourced communities. He has worked with youth as an after-school program coordinator, and more recently, he has been working as a site manager for a COVID-19 vaccination clinic.

Saitiel Sandoval GonzalezSaitiel Sandoval Gonzalez
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Saitiel was born and raised in Riverside. He wants to be a leader and advocate in communities that resemble those where he grew up. While at UCLA for undergrad, Saitiel was the Co-Programming Director for the Latino Student Health Project, organizing nutrition workshops and recruiting for health fairs in L.A. and Mexico. He has volunteered at the Venice Family Clinic serving as a Spanish interpreter, a clinical assistant and medical scribe. Most recently, he has been a child advocate for unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in the U.S.


2020 Scholarship Recipients

Meet last year's L.A. Care medical school scholars - the third class of the Elevating the Safety Net Scholarship Program.

View 2020 Scholars


2019 Scholarship Recipients

Meet more inspiring young health professionals. Learn about the second class of the Elevating the Safety Net Scholarship Program.

View 2019 Scholars


2018 Scholarship Recipients

It began with these eight dedicated individuals who want to make a difference for their communities. Learn about the first class of the Elevating the Safety Net Scholarship Program.

View 2018 Scholars