Nancy Rodriguez, a third-year medical student at UC Davis School of Medicine, has been awarded one of this year’s Herbert W. Nickens Medical Student Scholarships by the Association of American Medical Colleges. The honor recognizes exemplary students whose work and dedication helps address inequities in medical education and health care.
"Ms. Rodriguez is on an incredible trajectory toward becoming one of our most recognized Latina leaders and a highly influential physician,” said Efrain Talamantes, assistant professor and the associate director for the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities. “Despite the adversity she has faced as the daughter of immigrants, Ms. Rodriguez has gracefully taken on challenging leadership experiences that have enabled her to grow and be a more effective physician-in-training.”
Since arriving at the School of Medicine, Rodriguez has distinguished herself with a passionate commitment to addressing health disparities, with a special focus on equity, social justice and culturally and linguistically competent care. She was co-director of the Latino Student Health Project, where she organized quarterly clinics to provide basic health care services in Tecate, Mexico. She has held key leadership roles in the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA), and currently serves as chief information officer for LMSA West.
Rodriguez’ parents emigrated from Guatemala and she grew up in Southern California. Her motivation to become a primary care physician and help address health disparities and the lack of Latino physicians stems from her upbringing, where she experienced barriers to quality health care and came to understand the importance of increasing the number of physicians in communities that historically have always suffered from a shortage of health care providers.
“Nancy has been a tireless volunteer, both on our campus and throughout the world,” said Tonya Fancher, interim associate dean for Student and Resident Diversity at UC Davis. “She also has been a powerful advocate for social justice in medicine, helping to organize and lead a number of important discussions and peaceful protest demonstrations to address the issues of racism and injustice in health care, and the potential threats to immigrant and vulnerable populations in these politically uncertain times.”
Rodriguez graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in psychobiology and earned a master’s degree in public health from Boston University. After finishing graduate school, she returned to Los Angeles and did community outreach work as the director of health and wellness for the Venice Family Clinic.
Rodriguez and four other medical students from around the country were honored with Nickens Scholarship awards, which included $5,000 checks, during ceremonies last week in Boston.