Four College of Human Medicine students receive Oliver Goldsmith, MD, Scholarships

August 30, 2023

After they heard about a scholarship for medical students interested in caring for the underserved, four College of Human Medicine students began exchanging text messages: You should apply for this. You’d be perfect for this.

As it turned out, all four – Enrique Cazares-Navarro, Aldana Garcia, Patricio Ruano, and Melanie Valentin – were perfect for the Oliver Goldsmith, MD, Scholarships. Of the 12 such scholarships awarded this year by Kaiser Permanente, four went to College of Human Medicine students.

left to right):  Melanie Valentin, Patricio Ruano, Enrique Cazares-Navarro and Aldana Garcia.

(left to right):  Enrique Cazares-Navarro, Patricio Ruano, Melanie Valentin, and Aldana Garcia 

"I think it’s a testament to our recruitment of students who have a commitment to social justice and caring for underserved communities,” said Elizabeth Lyons, EdD, the College of Human Medicine’s director of Minority Recruitment and associate director for the Leadership in Rural Medicine program. “That is something that is a true passion for all four of them.”

Each received a $5,000 scholarship and the opportunity to serve a clinical rotation at any of the 39 Kaiser Permanente hospitals in California. All four were raised in California and are committed to caring for the underserved communities from which they came.

Cazares-Navarro received an undergraduate degree in biology from California State University, Fresno, and a graduate degree in Community Health and Prevention Research from the Stanford School of Medicine before enrolling in the College of Human Medicine. He has conducted research into health disparities and helped create a health fair for Flint residents.

Garcia was born in Argentina and immigrated to California when she was 9 years old. Under a full-ride scholarship, she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in psychobiology from UCLA before enrolling in the College of Human Medicine. She volunteers at Cabrini Clinic, which serves economically disadvantaged Detroit residents.

Ruano moved from California to Grand Rapids, where he became active in the Latin American and Native American Medical Association and co-founded the First Generation in Medicine student organization. He has mentored high school students interested in careers in medicine and other science and technology fields.

Valentin, a native of Ontario, California, worked with her fellow students to create a case-based medical Spanish elective in the College of Human Medicine. She served as vice president of the Latin American and Native American Medical Association and has promoted diversity, equity, and inclusion to marginalized communities in Michigan and throughout the Midwest. She also co-founded the first health fair for the Hispanic/Latinx community in Flint.

Their countless hours of volunteering and their shared passion for serving marginalized communities earned each a place in the College of Human Medicine and secured them the Goldsmith scholarships, Lyons said.

“There was no doubt all four of them would receive it,” she said. “All four of them when they started here showed their passion to give back to their communities. It’s what they want to do.”