Leonel Mendoza, M.D. was a member of the graduating FACES Class of 2005. Dr. Mendoza recently received his medical degree at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine and will be starting a residency in Internal Medicine at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. He attended Life Academy High School in Oakland, and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Integrative Biology.
Leonel shares that FACES had opened his eyes to the multiple opportunities available in health care and in a hospital setting. Leonel shared about his experiences in FACES, “I learned about the multiple fields that are needed to run a hospital, from accountants, to lawyers and business administrators, the hospital has it all.” Leonel stressed the importance of programs like FACES in troubled communities where resources are lacking. Leonel states that, “Students all over Oakland don’t feel the motivation and the support to move forward and become someone in life. FACES taught me that I needed to be dedicated and go for whatever I decided in life. Even during my early stages of medical school applications, Dr. Magaña and the rest of the team at FACES were willing to go out of the way to help me in any way they could.”
Furthermore, Leonel believes programs like FACES can help students see a whole different world outside the violence and poverty they are used to. He adds, “FACES gave me a small glimpse of what my life could be if I had an education and a career in healthcare; without them I would have just become another Oakland high school student lost in a path with no future. Now I have a college degree and I am on my way to fulfilling my dream of becoming a doctor.”
Several years ago, Leonel returned to FACES to work with the staff during the Summer Medical Academy where he talked to students about his experiences during his studies. He states, “Returning to FACES was the least that I could do for what they have done for me. My hope is that by sharing my stories with FACES students, I can help them see that success is possible, even when all odds are against them.”
Watch Leonel in his Alumni Spotlight video here: