Born and raised in Finland, Erica Tukiainen and her family came to Los Angeles in 2000, with Erica and her brother Daniel not speaking a word of English. While still living in Finland, Erica’s mother encouraged her to begin playing basketball, which she continued in Windward High School. After graduating from high school, Erica received a full athletic scholarship to play for the UCLA women’s basketball team where she served as a four-year starter and captain from 2006-2010. While balancing life as a student-athlete and completing her pre-medical studies, Erica majored in French because of her interest in different cultures. While in college, she also participated in the UCLA Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP) in 2007. This experience truly opened her eyes to the health care issues affecting underprivileged communities. After completing her undergraduate degree French studies, she explored various areas of medicine by volunteering at the Ronald Reagan hospital and shadowing different primary care doctors. Furthermore, she gained valuable research experience at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health on studies on physical activity breaks (10-minute Instant Recess breaks) to promote worksite health. These different experiences not only confirmed her passion to pursue both a medical and public health degree but also further prepared her for her journey to medical school. For Erica, the UCLA PRIME Program was the most natural and best choice for her because the program would teach her the skills to address the medical issues, as well as the underlying social and environmental factors that limit an individual’s ability to make healthier choices.

Undergrad Institution: UC Los Angeles

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA