Center of Excellence in Diversity in Medical Education

Spotlight on Leadership


MICHAEL GALVEZ, Medical Student, Fifth Year

My Inspiration
“I grew up without health insurance. That experience taught me how important access to health care is and that medicine was my best opportunity to help the community.”

My Passion
“Medicine is exciting, applicable and important. There’s always something that needs to get done.”

My Future
“I see myself in academic medicine, possibly as a surgeon but still doing research in hopes of helping discover medical breakthroughs. I hope to be a role model for others and to find opportunities to be involved in increasing access to health care for everyone.”

Michael Galvez learned early on that he could combine his love of science with his drive to help people in need. As an undergraduate, first at Diablo Valley Community College and then at the University of California, Berkeley, where he majored in molecular and cellular biology, Galvez worked in a lab doing genome sequencing, fine-tuning his skill at detailed methodology.

At the same time, he realized he also wanted to work with people, particularly those in underserved communities. He helped start a mentorship program in San Francisco’s Mission District, pairing about 60 of his college classmates with Latino and Filipino middle school students to provide guidance in academic and social activities.

“I learned first-hand how important it is to get into a good high school and find the right resources. From there, it’s much easier to get into a good college,” he says. “I wanted to help people understand how the system works—that was a big part of my motivation for the mentorship program.”

He also volunteered at San Francisco General Hospital, working directly with patients and shadowing the ER physicians. Before starting medical school, he worked for two years doing pulmonary and critical care medicine research at UCSF.

“At first I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do,” he says. “I really liked basic science, but after shadowing the physician scientists in my laboratory who also saw patients, I discovered my passion for working directly with patients and helping find novel therapies in the laboratory.”

Galvez joined COE’s Early Matriculation Program (EMP), which gave him advance exposure to medical school. He began working in a lab that is developing a microsurgical technique to join vessels together without using sutures.

“This experience has inspired me to become a surgeon,” he says. “There are so many paths to take in medicine. Besides being fascinated with basic science research, I am committed to increasing access to health care and working with underserved communities. As a surgeon-scientist I can do research and still work directly with people.”

Galvez is still involved in community outreach. He is a co-president of the Latino Medical Student Association, and he helped develop a medical mentorship program through the Stanford University Minority Medical Alliance, matching mentors to premed students from socioeconomically diverse backgrounds.

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