DOWNEY - Marizabel Orellana, a student at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, was named a 2010 Herbert W. Nickens Scholar by the Association of American Colleges during the association's annual meeting in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 8.The single mother of a 14-year-old daughter, Orellana, 35, was one of five third-year medical students recognized for demonstrating leadership in eliminating inequities in medical education and health care, and for addressing the educational, societal and health care needs of minorities. Each recipient was awarded a $5,000 scholarship. "Receiving the Nickens Award is an incredible honor and a reminder of how important it is for me to serve my patients and advocate for their needs," Orellana said. "My patients inspire me to persevere, because each of them has the right to high-quality and affordable health care." Orellana helped launch a mentoring program for low-income youth at the Renacimiento Community Center in Pomona. She did this as a member of the inaugural class of the David Geffen School of Medicine's Program in Medical Education, a dual-degree program that aims to train medical leaders who will address health policy, care and research for underserved populations. The following year she expanded the program into a six-week summer program to engage children ages 11-18 in leadership development activities. The goal is to spark their interest in pursuing higher education and potential careers in health care. This is not the first time that Orellana's initiative has been publicly acknowledged. In June, she was one of two medical students awarded the $5,000 Oliver Goldsmith, M.D., Scholarship by Kaiser Permanente's Southern California region. In March, she was selected as one of 20 medical students nationwide to receive a leadership award from the American Medical Association Foundation. On behalf of the city of Pomona, Mayor Elliott Rothman also presented Orellana with awards in 2009 and 2010 in appreciation of her efforts to mentor children of the city. Orellana is pursuing a master's degree in public health in addition to her medical degree. Following residency training, she plans a career in primary care medicine. Orellana's mother is from Mexico and her father is from Guatemala. Both of her parents immigrated in their teens to the United States.
********** Published: December 23, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 36