Alumni Spotlight

Alumni Spotlight

 

Alt: Ms. Roslyn Evans Roslyn Evans, PA ‘ 01
CDU- College of Science and Health
Current position: Regional Practice Leader for Kaiser Permanente of Southern California

Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU) alum Ms. Roslyn Evans, knew from an early age that she wanted to work in medicine. Roslyn credits a health issue while growing up, as an experience that shaped her perspective on life. She believes that having the ability to make a difference, is one of the greatest gifts life has to offer. At the early stages of her career exploration she wanted to work with children as a pediatrician or a teacher. While in college her illness placed her at a crossroads where she was presented with a new opportunity. She recalls being introduced to a Physician Assistant while growing up in West Oakland, CA and having a chance to shadow a Physician Assistant (PA). After that experience she never looked back. Roslyn credits that job shadowing experience as the launch board experience, to a rewarding career. While exploring her career options she vividly recalls a brochure she received about CDU, and the message it displayed about helping the community. “I knew that community work is what I wanted to do.” After looking at the brochure she applied and never looked at any other options. Roslyn credits her decision to attend CDU because it meant serving the community.

Roslyn Evans, states when she began her career as a Physician Assistant (PA), the occupation was an emerging field. Becoming a PA gave her a sense of purpose. During Roslyn’s education she says not only has she had the opportunity to serve but she has also helped her colleagues along the way. Roslyn shares having a colleague who had a rash and was extremely uneasy, and after having looked at the rash, Roslyn was immediately able to diagnose it. Her friend was relieved and amazed that she was able to identify the rash. “We have had the opportunity to experience many cases.” The education she credits to CDU is tops in the healthcare field. Currently, Roslyn serves as the Regional Practice Leader for Kaiser Permanente of Southern California.

Alt: Ms. La’Quana Williams La’Quana Williams, MPH ‘13
CDU-College of Science and Health
Current position: Health Equity & Cultural Competency Coordinator

Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU) alum Ms. La’Quana Williams career pursuit in public health has come full circle as an advocate for health equity. Ms. Williams, credits her passion and impact in the field of public health to the life she has lived. She has dedicated her lived experiences as a resource to train the public health workforce to meet the challenges of addressing health disparities in underserved communities.  As a CSU instructor and public health practitioner, La’Quana designs and implements programs for the Monterey County Health Department (MCHD) that improve cultural competency and humility, uncover the history of race and racism in the United States, and informs policies that dismantle the social determinants of health.  La’Quana states “best practices have not been traditionally created for minorities to support choices aimed at prevention”. La’Quana credits her degree at CDU for giving her a specific area of expertise in Urban Public Health. She says there are many other Masters programs in public health, but admits few aim to focus on an “upstream” approach to eradicating the health disparities that are prevalent in underserved communities. 

La’Quana Williams, has taken the message of serving the underserved nationally and was recently acknowledged for her curriculum and program development for MCHD by  peers nationally at the 2015 American Public Health Association (APHA) annual meeting in Chicago , Illinois. Through her leadership she partnered with two other counties, Riverside and Alameda presenting on a session topic titled “Preparing the Public Health Workforce to Advance Health Equity through a Health in All Policies Approach.” La’Quana, is a native of South Los Angeles, a wife, and mother of a four year-old son.

Alt: Dr. Linda Lott career 

Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU) alum Dr. Linda Lott’s career in dentistry has come full circle as an advocate and trailblazer. Dr. Lott’s initial exposure to CDU was between her junior and senior year at UCLA School of dentistry in an externship to gain some more meaningful experiences in addition to those being offered in Westwood. Dr. Lott looked to gain an experience that would give her an opportunity in serving the Watts Willowbrook community in 1973. Having turned down another residency offer, she came to King/Drew for the rich and rewarding experiences in pediatric dentistry that it offered.  Lott came over with Dr. Ronald Johnson, a lecturer from Harvard who set up the first pediatric dentistry specialty program. She immediately fell in love with the training that was being offered at King/Drew. “King/Drew was considered as the mecca of black specialty post-doctoral training in the United States and the best of the best came from all over because they were dedicated and wanted to give back.” We were really nurtured and encouraged to be the finest in our field and that made it a very special place. My classmates were all leaders and we were so fortunate to get the training that was being offered at King/Drew. 

Dr. Lott, the first African female to graduate from the UCLA School of dentistry in 1974 recalls those times as  a fun experience, one that kept them in the hospital at times, the entire night helping physicians while helping serve the community. We did OR cases, and was intricately involved with pediatricians Lott recalls. Lott, who is a native of Chicago and a mother of three is now practicing in Agoura Hills, and has known since she was in the 5th grade that she wanted to be a pediatric dentist.  

Alt:  Drew/UCLA Class of 1989 Reunion Celebrating  

Drew/UCLA Class of 1989 Reunion Celebrating 25 yrs. of Excellence and Compassion
Like never before, UCLA and Drew Class of 1989 classmates came together in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 30, 2014 for some exceptional reunion events. Excitement grew for the reunion planning committee members as they saw folks network through Facebook, personal calls and visits. Dr. Seleda Williams, a member of the UCLA class of 1981 reunion planning committee, made a special effort to outreach to her Drew (CDU)colleagues to invite them to some additional get together events.
Prior to the UCLA Class of 1989 25th reunion event, 16 Drew and 7 invited guests mingled at Gladstone’s and some went to the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades.  Forty UCLA and CDU classmates along with 24 invited guests attended the UCLA class of 1989 25th reunion dinner at Ruth Sorotzkin’s house.
But what truly made these Class of 1989 reunion events exceptional is that both CDU and UCLA classmates came together and donated to both the Drew Mission Makers and UCLA Class of 1989 scholarship funds.  Total Drew donations at the time of the event came to $2350.

Alt:  Charles R. Drew University Orthopedic Alumni 

Charles R. Drew University Orthopedic Alumni Reception   
(Dr. Jacqueline L. Hanna, Dr. Eleby Washington, Dr. Edward Ashley, Dr. Antoine Roberts, Dr. Joseph Boucree – Former residents and alumni of CDU Orthopedic program)

On March 16, 2014 a Charles R. Drew Orthopedic Alumni Association Reception was hosted by Dr. Eugene Washington, chairman of the Orthopedic Department at the House of Blues in New Orleans, Louisiana. This was held during the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery. A wonderful time was had by all reconnecting and remembering the good times at the King-Drew Medical Center. In addition, during the meeting, our alumni also participated in the J. Robert Gladden Orthopedic Society (Minority Orthopedic Surgical Society) Annual Luncheon, also hosted by Dr. Washington. The highlight of the luncheon included presentations of Awards for Scholarly and Mentoring Activities of the membership as well as inspiring talks by Dr. Frederick M. Azar, President of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery and Dr. Norman C. Francis, President of Xavier University. 

Danny Pitts, '09; '11Alt:  Danny Pitts, Years '09; '11
Certificate: Substance Abuse Counseling
Associate of Science: Community Health Alcohol and Other Drug Studies
Current position: Volunteer Counselor - Spectrum Program, Los Angeles

Danny Pitts is a man who is driven to succeed—despite the obstacles. He currently is a volunteer counselor for the Spectrum program for HIV and drug addictive clients, but his history with CDU began long before. He was born and raised in the area where CDU is located and took a special pride when it was built. He began taking classes there in 2002, but the death of his mother forced him to drop out. In 2007, he began working CDU as a custodian and members of the registration staff who remembered him from his previous enrollment encouraged him to go back to school.

As a bit of history, Mr. Pitts had a history of drug and alcohol abuse. But, someone reached out to him and helped him with his struggles to break free from his addictions. When he re-enrolled in school, he felt drawn to Substance Abuse Counseling curriculum because he felt an obligation to reach out and help others, as he knew all too well the severity to which drugs can destroy lives. "You need someone else to help you along,” says Pitts. "You can't do it unless someone else really cares.”

The education he got at CDU helped prepare him to do what he loves to do—reach out and help others. The classroom experience taught him how to approach those in need professionally. "CDU's method of education helped me to be kind, gentle and long-suffering with people dealing with addition. I learned how not to push them away, but rather to get their attention and get them motivated to overcome their disease.”

As he was obtaining his certificate, he decided to move forward with an Associates Degree. The CDU family was there for him—encouraging him daily. This had a tremendous impact on him and he persevered with his education, because not only did he not want to let himself or his wife down, but he also didn't want to let his co-workers down. "It really got me through having that support,” Pitts states.

Due to this support, he sees CDU as an amazing educational experience for anyone who is interested in the medical field. "Go to CDU. They have a wonderful staff and faculty. The administration was a great influence on my education—I knew them all. I got to know my peers through my education and they did everything they could for me. I have never had so much support in anything else I've undertook in my life.”

And, through his experience with CDU, he discovered that his true passion was being a substance abuse counselor, which he deems as his greatest achievement. He has assisted many substance abuse clients through his work. "I've been volunteering for 2 ½ years. It has to be my passion because I do it even if I'm not being paid. But, I have seen the progress with my clients through one-on-one and group sessions. This is what I was put on planet earth to do. This is why God put me here—it is my calling.”

 College of Medicine (Medical Education Progam; Residency Training Program at the KDMC)

Alt:  Sabin Dang, MD, Year '11 

Sabin Dang, MD, '11 
Drew/UCLA Medical Education Program 
Specialty: Ophthalmology
Current position: Internal Medicine - Preliminary at Olive View Medical Center prior to beginning Ophthalmology Residency at Wayne State University, MI


When Sabin Dang searched for a doctoral program in which to enroll, he looked no further than CDU. "I was looking for an MD program that not only provided an excellent broad based education but also allowed me to work in a community based area to serve. CDU was at the top of the list. It has excellent outreach and the school focuses on giving their students ‘down in the trenches’ experience.” He also felt that CDU’s joint program with UCLA offered the most up-to-date medical technology and practice anywhere in the world.

CDU was instrumental in preparing him for his current role. "Right now, I am interning at Olive View, a Los Angeles County hospital. The population we serve faces a unique set of challenges – lack of insurance and money; poor access to health care; differing cultural views on medicine and many of them just cannot leave work, so they have to put their health as a second priority. CDU educated us on how to deal with micro problems, the barriers to getting health care, and the more global issues related to health care and its policies. CDU helped me to find ways to improve quality of care for all patients as a whole.”

CDU’s emphasis on technology research has also helped Dang in his current position. Prior to attending CDU, Dang worked in Information Technology (IT). CDU encouraged him to integrate his technical experience and bring it to the medical profession…and he continues to do that. He sees a great deal of inefficiencies in the health care system and see opportunities for how those processes can be improved upon. As such, he is developing software and systems that bolster efficiencies in the resource-strapped county system. These systems stretch the county’s dollars.

Dr. Dang sees the face of health care as a dramatically changing, dynamic field. New federal policy legislation, such as health care reform, is changing the way that physicians are required to practice. And, there is a significant portion of the US population that is living at or below the poverty line. The medical problems faced by lower income patients can be very different than those who have excellent access to health care, and physicians need to know this to practice effectively. Therefore, Dang feels it is important to find a medical school that can provide a foundation that speaks to these health inequalities and that offers translational knowledge for the underserved communities—whose needs can be very different from more affluent communities. Says Dang, "CDU educates it students so well in terms of health disparities, health care issues and its policies. It offers an unbiased and comprehensive look at the health care system--at its best and at its worst.”

"I think that CDU is a fantastic institution. What I remember most fondly is how friendly and approachable the faculty was and everyone there worked hard to ensure our success—and they did it with a smile on their face.”

 

D. Levi Harrison, MD, '05
Residency Program (Orthopedics) 
MD: UC Davis Alt:  D. Levi Harrison, MD, Year  '05

D. Levi Harrison, "Danny”as he was known at CDU and now as "Dr. Levi, America's Fitness Doctor,” hails from New Orleans, LA. After obtaining BA and BS degrees from the University of Notre Dame, he went on to secure a Master's degree in Engineering from Howard University. His aspiration was always to be a doctor, as he held a lifelong passion to be of service. He felt his engineering degree would offer the critical thinking training he needed to become a compassionate, caring healer. He was also an athlete with a fascination with the human body and health. He enrolled in medical school and received his medical degree from UC Davis. CDU was his primary choice to complete his residency as he understood the value of practicing with a great team of knowledgeable doctors where he could truly be of service to the surrounding community. Not only did Dr. Levi complete his residency at CDU, he went on to do his fellowship training at the internationally renowned Indiana Hand Center. He currently has one of the fastest growing orthopedic practices in the Los Angeles area, The Harrison Orthopedic Center area. He recently published The Art of Fitness: A Journey to Self Enhancement. The book is a first ever "how to” fitness guide written by a surgeon. Dr. Levi believes that fitness should be woven into the fabric of our everyday lives as a way to promote healthy living and reduce the risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Levi credits many of his accomplishments today from the training he received at CDU. Says Dr. Levi, "The King/Drew Orthopedic residency program endowed me with intellectual stamina, physical endurance and great critical thinking skills. It was also a place for great self-reflection. That program allowed me to understand the virtue of my gifts and the truths of my own challenges. I am grateful for all the great teachers at King/ Drew who allowed me the opportunity to be of service to a truly disenfranchised part of our community. I value the power of service and volunteering because of King/Drew.” And, he feels that students looking to enter the field of medicine should look no further than CDU because of the quality of education that they will receive as well as the subtleties and idiosyncrasies of life and patient care. "Matriculating at King/Drew medical school will be an achievement of great academic and personal value which would allow one to truly leave an impactful legacy of service. It is a phenomenal opportunity to provide compassionate and competent care to an often inappropriately maligned community of really wonderful people.”

While he feels that his greatest achievements have been his ability to appreciate the gift of service as a physician as well as his ever expanding platform of compassion. "Every day is a gift of gratitude and a not-so-subtle reminder to life in selfless, purposeful service,” concludes Dr. Levi. "However, my mother would say that my greatest achievement was my award for perfect school attendance from kindergarten through 12th grade!”


Gudata Hinika, MD, FACS, '01 
Residency Program (Surgery)
MD: Loma Linda University Alt: Gudata Hinika, MD, FACS, Year  '01 

If there ever was a person who epitomizes the CDU mission—"to conduct education, research and clinical services in the context of community engagement to train health professionals who promote wellness, provide care with excellence and compassion, and transform the health of underserved communities”—it is Dr. Gudata Hinika. He has a vested interest to helping humanity, as he grew up in rural Ethiopia and witnessed firsthand the devastating ramifications resulting from a lack of basic resources.

For Dr. Hinika, Drew provided the foundation for what he does as the head of Trauma, General and Critical Care Surgery at California Hospital Medical Center. His calling extends beyond hospital walls—locally and globally. Since his days as a struggling college student, he has set aside time and money for philanthropic causes such as:
•A high school that serves 1500 students and provides college scholarships to one of the best private colleges in Ethiopia;
•The replanting of 95,000 tress in deforested areas;
•The expansion of a one room clinic at a local university into a full-fledged health center, including a medical library and lab;
•Founder of Ethiopia HealthAid, a not-for-profit organization that works with rural Ethiopian communities to build locally sustainable health care and education systems;
•Establishment of Crenshaw Medical Center, a multi-specialty health facility in South Los Angeles.

Dr. Hinika felt that the residency program, at CDU, would allow him to train at the best hospital in the area, the King/Drew Hospital—even the Army and Navy sent physicians there to train before they were deployed. Says Hinika, "The degree of trauma seen by the staff at King/Drew Hospital was so unique and intense that the government sent people to the hospital to get a refresher course in ballistic and missile related injuries. The hospital stood alone in terms of excellence in training.” Upon completion of his final year of residency, he was named the Executive Chief of Residency and was responsible for scheduling the 44 residents on staff. He also was responsible for inviting top notch surgeons from around the country to make presentations to the residents. "Drew trained surgeons and medical specialists to go across the country. They provided a well rounded education to a superb group of young men and women who filled a void for a population that needed medical care, especially for the poor. Because of the service mentality and training that we received, Drew was unique in that it made us become the best physicians possible and it taught us to serve humanity without regard to their backgrounds (insurance, class status, etc.)”. He expressed that CDU encouraged doctors to look for the best ways in which to serve these communities, and infused a need to address the very overwhelming medical challenges in society.” Furthers Hinika, "The combination of focusing on medical expertise and respectful medical care to society is best.”

Dr. Hinika also feels that the Drew/UCLA medical program provides students with a well rounded medical education while focusing on the service of inner city America today. "CDU provides superb exposure by a highly trained medical staff. It gives you all the science that you need as well as exposure to inner city patients. It educates you on the disease complexity of the inner city. If anyone is looking for those attributes in a school, there is no place but CDU.”

Dr. Hinika considers giving back to needy communities his greatest achievement. "Drew taught me to serve the underserved where heath care is needed the most.”

Mervyn M. Dymally School of Nursing  

Ronaldo Dela Vega, '11
Degree: Master of Science in NursingAlt:  Ronaldo Dela Vega, Year  '11
Specialties: Family Nurse Practitioner

As class president, CDU student government delegate and member of the inaugural graduating class of the Mervyn M. Dymally School of Nursing (SON)—all while holding down a full time job as an ER nurse at Kaiser Permanente--Ronaldo has cemented himself in the history of the newly formed institution. Originally from the Philippines, Ronaldo Dela Vega immigrated to the United States ten years ago. His passion for nursing led him to the new School of Nursing at CDU. He researched the educational opportunities that the school offered and quickly enrolled.

"I’ve been inspiring a lot of my former school mates,” says Dela Vega. "They had never heard of the school before. But this school is a historical school. Being part of a minority, I knew that when I found CDU, I’d found a home.” He sees the education level at SON being higher than others in the nation that he’d researched, but what crystallized his feelings was the support that he gained from the faculty and staff—particularly from the Dean, Gloria J. McNeal. "The staff was there for us. This is in addition to the fact that the research that is going on at CDU is world-class and they are helping to save lives every day. To me, there is no better choice.” From a technology standpoint, what he was exposed to daily in the classroom environment will help make the graduates even better professionals. Furthers Dela Vega, "The mannequins were so realistic and the training we received empowered us to deal with just about any real life situation that we could encounter.”

One of his biggest takeaways from his experience was his ability to be a student leader. "CDU allowed me to polish my leadership skills which will help me be a better persona and take leadership positions in hospitals. And, the academic requirements will allow me to practice as a great health care provider.”
Because of his enthusiasm for the school, Dela Vega created the Mervyn M. Dymally School of Nursing: Gloria J. McNeal Founding Dean Fund and raised $5,000.00 to promote support and advance the activities of the SON (as designated by the Dean). "I hope this encourages other donors both current and future,” says Dela Vega. For more information on the fund or to donate, click on the link: https://donate.cdrewu.edu/scholarships_2.asp.

His greatest achievement, however, was being chosen as the student speaker at the SON graduation. Concludes Dela Vega, "I was a part of history! This was the inaugural ceremony. I spoke in front of not only students and faculty, but also to dignitaries and State representatives. It’s in history now. I have the DVD!”


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