Undergraduate profile: Gabriel Sumayan Garcia

Image created by Grace Rajan, MCAH LEAP Peer Ambassador 2022–23

As the semester comes to an end, we are celebrating one of our undergraduate public health students who is graduating this month: Gabriel Sumayan Garcia. Garcia was part of the first cohort of Advanced Leadership, Education, and Advancement in Undergraduate Pathways (LEAP) Scholars at Berkeley Public Health’s Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health (MCAH) program.

Gabriel Sumayan Garcia is a graduating senior who joined the MCAH LEAP program in Fall 2021. Their commitment to public health and their greater community stems from their personal history which is shaped by the strength of the Filipino immigrant experience. Growing up, they witnessed firsthand the mental health impacts of transgenerational trauma on the family, which is often perpetuated by the relationship between labor and mental health. Their journey within public health has centered addressing these adverse health outcomes, as they continue to focus on building more resilient families through intersectional interventions.

As an Advanced LEAP Scholar, Gabriel has been an integral part of a “supporting and welcoming” cohort, which has helped them to foster community within MCAH. Through the Introduction to MCAH course, they have been able to develop a comprehensive understanding of areas of interest, including Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and the life course perspective. This understanding is realized in the work they do within their community. As a part of their LEAP summer Internship, Gabriel helped develop programming for Asian Health Service’s Leaders in Training x Bridging Generations, by leading cohorts of high school students in discussion and activities focused on addressing structural inequities. Bridging Generations provided a unique opportunity, a grounding full-circle moment for them to give back to the youth of the community they come from as a mentor for Asian and Black youth in Chinatown, covering topics spanning incarceration to structural racism. They worked extensively to develop an enriching program for their cohort, supplemented by museum visits and guest speakers to provide background and bridge intergenerational gaps for students dealing with systems of oppression. Addressing health inequities carries over to Gabriel’s research fellowship with Birth By Us, as they work with current MCAH graduate student, Ijeoma Uche (expected MPH ‘23), to combat adverse Black maternal health outcomes with technological solutions, through an application catered to the unique needs of the community. Quality of sleep and mental health are fundamental elements of maternal health that the application caters to.

Gabriel is continuing their journey in public health and hopes to take their experiences with them as they navigate the next steps in their career.

Their dedication to addressing transgenerational trauma continues as Gabriel works towards bettering health outcomes in immigrant populations through a career in family medicine.

A version of this story first appeared on the Center of Excellence in MCAH website. Reprinted with permission.