young woman in blue dress smiling with arms crossed

Interview  with Hannah Obasi a 2015 scholarship recipient.

Hannah is a native of Richmond, California.  She attended Middle College High School which is designed as an alternative educational program that allows for exposure to college while in high school.  The school is located on the Contra Costa Community College campus.  It is a public school, but highly competitive and primarily for students of the  West Contra Costa Unified School District.

She attended high school with her twin sister and an older sister.  Friends referred to them as the “triplets”.

She looked back at her high school experience as a great opportunity.  Students took 1-2 college courses in addition to high school courses, and received college credit.  Upon graduation, the students had enough credits to get their AA degree.

When asked, what inspired you to choose a career in medicine?  She replied that since high school she has been interested in global poverty.  Since both of her parents are from Nigeria, she is aware of the privileges that she had growing up in the US in contrast to life in Nigeria.  Through community service activities with her church, she developed a desire to give back to her community.  Science came easily to her, and medicine seemed a natural medium to further her interests in global health, poverty and community service.

When asked about life as a medical student, she replied that she is asking many questions – such as what does global heath look like in medicine? Being a medical student in San Francisco, she is becoming more aware of the issues of race and its impact on health care.

Hannah shared that UCSF is a very supportive environment.   She found out about the SMMA scholarship through the Office of Diversity and Outreach at UCSF.

When asked how did the award change her perspective of what was and wasn’t possible during her medical career, she responded that the award helped to validate the interests and the work that students have outside of medical school.  The  Black Lives Matter activisms inspired her.   She joined other first and second year medical students to create and organize  “White Coats for Black Lives” and the nationwide “White Coat Die-In” demonstrations of 2014.  When asked why, she responded that she felt that it was important to acknowledge that racial bias affects both the justice system and the medical field.  She was passionate about the importance of Black medical students taking a stand, and appreciated the scholarship as it validated the necessity for social responsibility that she and all the other scholarship recipients were participating in.

She is inspired that there is a community of Black physicians that cares about issues in the Black community outside of health care and encourages community involvement.   Being from the Bay Area and loving the environment, she is inspired to stay and practice after graduation.

What would you like to say to the sponsors who support the annual benefit and make the scholarships possible?

“Thank you so much for the scholarship.  It encourages students to step outside of medicine and education to pursue interests outside of school.  Attending the benefit is also inspiring.”

Hannah Obasi is a third year medical student at UCSF.  She is interested in racial disparities in health care and has spent time educating herself looking at the genetic, social and bias components.  She is challenged to learn more on this subject.  Prior to clinical rotations, she along with other students created “Race Talks” – a student- only space to discuss current events that can be emotionally triggering, where they can freely and openly have a guided discussion.  Her goal was that this would also be an opportunity for the students to understand each other and become empowered.


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