By Lisa Montes ’92
I grew up with an activist single parent, and it’s beautiful to honor that work by giving back to UCLA and the Academic Advancement Program. As an undergraduate who felt imposter syndrome, AAP is where I found my confidence, my springboard, my community. It led me to go to medical school and inspired me to make volunteering a lifelong commitment. Now that I’m a Kaiser pediatrician, it feels like I’ve come full circle by serving on AAP’s Advisory Council.
Getting involved at UCLA as an alumna has made a huge difference in my life.
I will never forget my heroes who helped pave the way for me and so many others to become doctors: people like Dr. Bob Montoya, Statewide Health Policy and Development; Dr. David E. Hayes- Bautista, director of UCLA’s Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture; and the late Dr. Frank Meza, AltaMed Health Systems.
With these giants in health equity and workforce diversity, I was part of a younger group that created MiMentor. After 10 years, we now have 14,000 aspiring health care leaders who will one day serve the underserved. This free app welcomes those with no mentors into a community full of resources and inspiration, where they realize they can achieve their dreams and that people like me want to help them.
UCLA’s alumni magazines are special to me; my late father, who passed of COVID-19, would read every issue, cover to cover. He was a proud dad. UCLA is a place my mother transferred into at a time when she never saw another Latina until the day of her graduation. I am a proud daughter. My abuelita, who lived to 102, wanted to become a nurse but never had the opportunity. We are a proud family.
These are the role models who turned my blood blue and gold, and I think of them every time I mentor a student or give back to UCLA. I want to spread the message that medicine needs diverse voices and there is no shame in overcoming adversities. Adelante!