Michael Gonzaga, a graduate of Fremont Adult School, never thought that he would one day become a senior medical student with plans of applying to a residency program and becoming a future physician. Currently finishing up his third year of medical school at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, Michael strives to carve out a path in medicine that focuses on bringing resources to low-income patients and being an advocate who spotlights the issues that underinsured patients face in order to gain greater access to needed healthcare services.
Mr. Gonzaga's path started over 15 years ago where he was invited to complete a fifth year of attendance at Irvington High School. With no solid direction for his future aspirations, he completed his high school degree in 2000 from the Fremont Adult School and began his coursework at Ohlone College while leaning on mentors such as librarians, professors and academic counselors to complete an associate's degree. He transferred to the University of California, Davis in 2002 and graduated with a degree in Sociology two and a half years later. Realizing that becoming a doctor was how he could make the greatest impact, he continued his education at Ohlone College, Chabot College, Berkeley City College, Merritt College, Solano College and the University of California, Berkeley Extension while working as a sales representative, fork lift driver, front desk staff, call room operator, researcher, and coordinator in order to obtain a post baccalaureate degree which would allow him to apply to medical school.
Michael was accepted to Meharry Medical College and began his first year of coursework in 2011. Since then, he has served on the board of directors to initiate the first free student run clinic at Meharry known as the 12 South Community Clinic, received a yearlong scholarship to participate in community engaged research, and has been working as a Patient Advocate in the Nashville General Hospital's Emergency Department providing comfort for families visiting the ER while working with the medical team to provide triage, ancillary, and procedural support. Michael hopes to attend a residency program that will provide training to prepare him for establishing comprehensive health centers in low-income communities while mentoring community leaders of color, aspiring physicians, and other health allies who will have access to scholarship, training and educational opportunities.