Student Life

"I was born in springtime, grew up in California and in Taiwan, and attended school in the San Francisco Bay Area which I consider home and a truly magical place.

It’s a typical night in the Emergency Department of a community hospital; after seeing an early-evening influx of patients with breakthrough migraines, asthma exacerbations and chest pain, we’ve reached the witching hour of 3 AM and things have qu

Priya Prasad, a fourth-year student in the UC San Francisco Epidemiology and Translational Sciences PhD Program, is constantly juggling her busy schedule with the care of her two-year-old son.

“In 2008, I nearly failed out of UC Berkeley. At the time, I was a heavy drug user, having lots of anonymous condomless sex with other guys, and isolating myself from the people who loved me.

“I’m beginning to learn how to look at the big picture. I’ve always been so focused on the details of everything; anything from planning every last car ride to making sure the prep on my tooth looks as perfect as possible.

Last month, I visited Los Pinos del Eden, a tiny, beautiful town in a rural, mountainous region of the Dominican Republic, near the border with Haiti. I was leading a group of eight women on a public health service-learning trip for Una Vida, a local non-profit I’ve spent years collaborating with to cultivate meaningful short-term service work. During our trip, under the supervision of the local Ministry of Public Health, our volunteers were able to shadow a Dominican family physician as she performed screening for cervical cancer. After watching the physician complete a pap smear, the provider offered the volunteer the chance to perform the exam herself on the following patient.

“Having school from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on most days and constantly studying after class, it’s easy to lose yourself and forget what makes you happy.

“I thought being a psychiatry resident meant that I might lose a patient to suicide, but didn’t think I would lose a friend.” As I overlook the Golden Gate Bridge from the Parnassus Library’s theater-style window seating, I mull over these words from Matthew Goldman, MD, MS, a recent UCSF School of Medicine alumnus who moved across the country to the skyscrapers of New York City for residency.

“CDA Cares is a bi-annual event aimed to serve populations that do not have access to dental care. This was my second time volunteering in the prosthodontics department at CDA Cares and it has been a wonderful experience on both occasions.

“Remember,

We are but a heap of stardust

Blessed with the mind

For a brief moment of time.

Burn bright.”

Igor Mitrovic, M.D.