"Leonel Martinez is a first generation Mexican-American born and raised in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. Growing up in a low socioeconomic community, he was exposed to gangs, violence and a lack of resources that gave him a fist hand experience of the social determinants of health. Being part of the Los Angeles Unified School District, he overcame significant educational barriers and violence to become the first in his family to seek higher education. At UCLA, he majored in Psychobiology and got a minor in Chicano Studies. Motivated by detrimental health issues in his family, he became director of the Latino Student Health Project and a board member of Chicanos/Latinos for Community Medicine for three consecutive years. Through this role, he provided health care and educational resources to underserved communities in Los Angeles, the California Central Valley, and Tecate Mexico. He proved resilient and demonstrated strong character when his endeavor of higher education was jeopardized by his father’s health challenges and family’s loss of income. Fulfilling a leadership role within his family, he continued his mission to become a physician and learned to connect with patients facing similar challenges. After graduating from UCLA in 2008, he successfully completed post-baccalaureate course work through UCLA Extension while working full time as a Research Assistant at UCLA. His earnest hard work over the course of nine years, in the field of Muscular Dystrophy research, has led to multiple publications in peer-reviewed journals. As a bilingual future physician, who has a wealth of personal experience having grown in an underserved community, he has a passion to address health issues affecting those most vulnerable. As a DREW/UCLA student, he is excited to grow as an agent of change, advocate and servant leader for his community."

Undergrad Institution: UC Los Angeles

Hometown: North Hollywood, CA