SAN FRANCISCO -- Giving back to others should be a priority for all of us. It is for Jennifer Juarez Yoc, who looks to faith and family as inspiration to serve others.
Jenny, as she likes to be called, just passed her MCAT, the notoriously difficult medical college admissions test.
"Here are my notes from a test," said Juarez Yoc. "Physics. Biochemistry."
Her mom Mariasmin is very proud of Jenny.
"Mucho, mucho! Si!" said Mariasmin Yoc Ramos.
"My mom is saying that she's very proud," said Juarez Yoc as she interpreted for her mom. " And [she is saying] that since I was a little girl, I have loved to study. and she would buy me bible books for children and it had pictures and that I would finish that book and she would buy me another."
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The close pair share a deep faith in God, and a commitment to serve others in the neighborhood they've called home for 15 years, San Francisco's Sunnydale Housing Development.
"As you know this is the Sunnydale Projects," said Juarez Yoc as she walked around her neighborhood. "It's an underserved San Francisco neighborhood, part of the housing authority where you know health care disparities are a daily fact of life."
Juarez Yoc sees lack of access to equitable healthcare as just part of the trauma her community experiences. Violence also concerns her.
" I think it's very sad that they have come to normalize shootings," Juarez Yoc said. " One night when I was 14 there was a shooting right outside my window. And I look, you know, over my window and there is tons of police, there's like the yellow tape. There is a mom who comes crying and she's like, 'My baby! My baby.' It was a young person that had been shot, you know, and died."
It's Juarez Yoc's deep caring for others that impresses her mentor, USCF professor and practicing OBGYN Dr. Malini Nijagal.
"I see someone who's a wonderful communicator and relationship builder," said Nijagal of Juarez Yoc. "And so good at bringing people together."
"I am really grateful to have grown up in this neighborhood," declared Juarez Yoc. "I am really proud to have grown up in this neighborhood."
Juarez Yoc's not only proud to have grown up in Sunnydale, she's committed to its potential. During college at Sonoma State University, Juarez Yoc was a peer health leader at the Sunnydale Health and Wellness Center, where she organized field trips for neighborhood kids to places like Golden Gate Park.
"It was amazing," said Juarez Yoc of the kids' experience at the park. "They were like so lit up! And they were like wow we have never seen this park."
And now the 25-year-old future doctor is dreaming big. Juarez Yoc wants to go to USCF- her dream medical school - where she currently works as a project manager, and become an OBGYN before heading back to the community that has her heart. Juarez Yoc says she would also like to go on medical mission trips to other countries like Guatemala where her family's from, and provide medical services for free.
It's a goal Juarez Yoc's mother Mariasmin is sure her daughter will achieve. Juarez Yoc says her mom is her biggest inspiration. Mariasmin Yoc Ramos is a leader in her community also. She currently facilitates a prominent women's group at her church, and personally provides food assistance, short-term housing, and parenting support to other community members.
"I hope so," said Juarez Yoc of her future career and community service plans. "That's my goal one day, to come back and help expand a program for it to be a primary health clinic as well. In 10 years I see myself as a medical doctor. I see myself wrapping up residency as an OBGYN. I am hoping it would be at USCF because that is the first program who took me under their wing ... I hope to come back and not only be with this amazing program ... but also serve the community that has raised me here in San Francisco.
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