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On Monday, April 4, 220 attendees gathered at the Sheraton Fairplex Convention Center in Pomona to honor 15 Bright Prospect alumni who have chosen to establish their career in the medical field.

Guests heard alumni speakers Dr. Julia Hoang, Bright Prospect’s first MD, and Dr. Lorenzo Ramirez, Bright Prospect’s first PhD, speak about how their families came from humble beginnings and how Bright Prospect changed the trajectory of their academic lives and careers.

Julia Hoang talked about how both her parents, a manicurist and construction worker, commuted to work in Las Vegas, and she would only see them when they came home on the weekends. Because of the mentoring provided by Bright Prospect, Julia maintained a 4.3 GPA at Pomona High. She later attended UC Irvine and graduated from Ross University School of Medicine in Dominica in 2013. She was also able to secure 1 out of 4 psychiatric residency spots at UC Riverside’s School of Medicine (out of 600 applicants!) because of Bright Prospect’s outstanding recommendation letter. Julia is now in her second year of her psychiatry residency.

Lorenzo Ramirez shared that his father was a dairy farmer and his mother was a homemaker. While Lorenzo was in high school his father became unable to work due to an injury, and his family struggled to make ends meet. One of his teachers at Ontario High School introduced him to Bright Prospect, which put him on path to ultimately obtain a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Pennsylvania. Lorenzo now trains dogs to detect signature scents of diseases such as ovarian cancer. He credits his love for animals to growing up on a farm in Ontario.

The keynote speaker of the evening, Richard Yochum, president and CEO of Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, applauded those who choose to work in the medical field because of a passion to make a difference in people’s lives. Bright Prospect’s founder and president Eric Garen affirmed that Bright Prospect uplifts not just individuals served by the program, but entire communities, as about half of Bright Prospect graduates return to the communities they grew up in to pay it forward.

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