Joel was born in Hawthorne, CA to immigrant parents from Mexico and Guatemala. Among the various Los Angeles neighborhoods he grew up in was the small city of Lennox, CA, where CDU/UCLA LMSA now holds its health fair twice a year. His childhood interests had very little to do with medicine, and more to do with cartoons and doodling in notebooks. This interest led to a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from the University of Southern California. Several years after graduating, family health issues and inspiration from a friend in medical school served as motivation to pursue medicine. Joel completed his medical prerequisites while working full time for a biotechnology company and later as an emergency medical technician. Joel has volunteered for several hospitals throughout Los Angeles, has been part of the leadership team for an undergraduate hospital volunteer group, has served as a medical interpreter, and continues to volunteer for health fairs and student-run clinics that serve the poor and homeless of Los Angeles. Having lived his entire life in underserved communities, Joel is dedicated to working in areas where poverty is prevalent and access to quality health care is absent. In his free time, Joel enjoys spending quality time with his family and his dog Walnut, doodling during lectures, biking, and following current events.

Undergrad Institution: University of Southern California

Hometown: Compton, CA