Presenting: The Post-Baccalaureate Health Professions Program Class of 2023!

Meet this year’s alumni wall of fame

In this first of many annual spotlights, we’d like to introduce you to the Post-Baccalaureate Health Professions Program’s Class of 2023! Each of the following alumni completed the program in early 2023 and are now thriving in their desired health professions program.

We’ll continue to follow these stellar alumni—along with so many others—as they realize their health care professional dreams.

Read more about:

Grecia Ortiz Flores

Qihua Nancy Sun

Alexandra Groome

Meghna Kolli

Lauren Zakskorn

Brittney Whitlock

Shannon Lam

Arun Neupane


Grecia Ortiz Flores: UCSF School of Medicine

What brought you to our program?

Headshot of Grecia Ortiz

Graduating in the midst of a pandemic, I was looking for a flexible but supportive program to aid me in the preparation and journey toward medical school. As a first-generation student, I was looking for guidance from the program’s advisers.

Why did you decide to register for the post-bacc program as opposed to just taking the needed science courses?

I wanted to have structure and guidance during my journey. I could have just taken the science courses needed, but I wanted to have a community and support system that I could rely on and ask questions to.

Tell me about your experience going through the program.

I was able to build great connections with instructors who were clearly interested in your learning and well being. They were very knowledgeable and engaged. The support from my advisers was very useful and structured during the application process. The MCAT studying resources and support throughout the personal statement writing process and interview process were also extremely useful.

Why did you choose your specific health profession?

Coming from a low-income, underserved community, I witnessed and experienced firsthand the racial and social inequities in medicine. My passion to rectify these disparities fueled my motivation to pursue a career as a physician and be a positive agent of change.

How did the post-bacc prepare you for acceptance into the UCSF School of Medicine program?

The post-bacc program provided resources along the way to help me prepare for medical school applications. It began with courses that met the prerequisites and MCAT study resources that helped me study for that test. During the application process, I attended a personal statement and an application workshop that helped answer my questions about the application process. During the interview portion, I also had the opportunity to do mock interviews.

Where can we find you in five to 10 years from now?

In five years, I will be graduating from the UCSF PRIME-US Program. In 10 years, I hope to have graduated from my residency and working with minority, underserved populations.

Any advice for someone starting the post-bacc health program?

My biggest advice is get to know your fellow classmates and instructors. They are all great people who want you to succeed—those relationships can help you along your road, regardless of your health profession of choice. Collaborate with your peers: It will give you a community and will help you in courses as most of you will be taking the same classes.


Qihua Nancy Sun: Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine

What brought you to our program?

Headshot of Qihua Nancy Sun

I was drawn to it with a clear goal in mind: to transition into the health care field from my background in chemical engineering. My objective was to gain the necessary prerequisites and clinical experience to become a competitive medical school applicant.

Why did you decide to register for the post-bacc program as opposed to just taking the needed science courses?

I opted to apply to the post-bacc program because it offered a holistic approach to my pre-medical journey. Beyond offering the core science courses, the program provided invaluable guidance. Advisers helped me create a tailored school list, offered interview preparation and conducted application workshops.

This comprehensive support enriched my academic experience and significantly contributed to my successful application to my health professions program.

Tell me about your experience going through the program.

My journey was immensely enriching. I formed strong bonds with fellow students who shared my passion for health care. These relationships provided crucial academic and emotional support, making the challenging coursework more manageable. Additionally, the instructors and academic staff played a pivotal role by providing mentorship, guidance and a nurturing environment conducive to growth.

Why did you choose your specific health profession?

My decision to pursue a medical career was inspired by personal experiences and a strong desire to address health care disparities. I have witnessed and experienced the challenges faced in accessing health care for underserved communities. This experience and my passion for scientific research and teaching led me to medicine. I wanted to merge my fascination with biomedical science with a commitment to working with underserved communities and advocating for equitable health care access.

How did the post-bacc prepare you for acceptance into the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine?

It played a pivotal role by providing a rigorous academic foundation through prerequisite science courses and facilitated crucial clinical experience opportunities. Moreover, the program's guidance and support in crafting a compelling personal statement and preparing for interviews were instrumental in making me a competitive medical school applicant.

Where can we find you in five to 10 years from now?

I see myself as a practicing physician dedicated to working with underserved communities. My vision is to be a tireless advocate for my patients, working diligently to ensure that they have equitable access to health care resources and receive the highest quality of care.

Any advice for someone starting the post-bacc health program?

Embrace the challenges and seize the opportunities this program provides. Cultivate strong relationships with your peers and instructors as they will be an invaluable source of support and mentorship. Stay committed to your goals and work diligently: This program will equip you with the knowledge and experience needed for a successful future in health care.


Alexandra Groome: Rowan University Virtua Health College of Medicine & Life Sciences

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I graduated from Wake Forest University in 2019 and moved to the Bay Area for a research career opportunity at Stanford University in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. After learning more about psychiatry, I decided to pursue medicine!

As a career-changer, your Post-Baccalaureate Health Professions Program gave me the tools necessary to successfully apply to medical school, gaining multiple acceptances at schools across the U.S. I am a current first-year medical school student and am so grateful for the continued support from my UC Berkeley Extension family.


Meghna Kolli: UC Riverside School of Medicine

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I am a first-year medical student at UC Riverside's School of Medicine. When I started at UC Berkeley Extension's Post-Baccalaureate Health Professions Program, I had just completed my undergraduate degree at UC Davis. I had a very low science GPA, no letters of recommendation and no physician work experience. This program guided me through my three gap years and helped me get into my dream medical school.

I am so grateful for all the support and resources I received during the program. My advice is that no matter how impossible the journey seems in the beginning, there is always a way to make your dreams come true. Don't give up!


Lauren Zakskorn: Kansas City University College of Osteopathic Medicine

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After graduating from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in cognitive science, I pursued research in a translational cognitive and affective neuroscience lab, working with a population who suffered from early onset schizophrenia at UC Davis. After careful consideration and many shadowing experiences, I decided to become a physician and so I applied for and was accepted into your Post-Baccalaureate Health Professions Program.

I retook many lower-division science classes and new challenging upper-division courses. While taking courses, I also worked as a medical assistant in a private primary-care office. These experiences—combined with the program’s rigorous academic work, reputation of UC Berkeley Extension, letters from the program and faculty, and expert advising—propelled me to receive four medical school acceptances. Ultimately, I chose Kansas City University where I am currently a first-year osteopathic medical student.


Brittney Whitlock: A.T. Still University Physicians Assistant Program

Headshot of Brittney Whitlock

My story is one of hope and persistence.

As a first-generation college student with my sights set on a career in medicine, I attended a community college before transferring to UC Davis. Not only was the Davis curriculum harder, the length of the term was shorter and I had also begun working as a medical scribe. Off-shift hours in the emergency room took a toll on my GPA, but scribing also solidified my love for medicine and a passion for patient care.

Once I graduated, I applied to three cycles, never even receiving an interview. I discovered post-baccalaureate programs and applied all over the country and was rejected for a fourth cycle. I decided to attend UC Davis’ Pre-Health Conference to try to get in-person advice. As fate would have it, just as I was about to leave, I met the UC Berkeley Extension Post-Baccalaureate Health Professions Program’s advisers. In January 2020, I was finally accepted! And then cue a global pandemic.

The UC Berkeley Extension staff seamlessly transitioned to online learning with grace. I met with my adviser every semester, we formulated a plan and after two years I had successfully completed the post-bacc program. I applied to 10 different P.A. programs and, to be honest, I did not think I would get in this cycle.

To my surprise—and delight—I received an interview and subsequently an offer of acceptance. Remember, it only takes one.

My message to you is this: Never give up on your dreams. Keep trying and do the work required. My line to progress was anything but linear, but every curve had its purpose and that purpose was to shape me into the woman I am today and the provider I’ll be in two short years.


Shannon Lam: Northeast Ohio Medical University

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When I entered the University of Southern California in August 2015 as a first-year student, I was a bright-eyed pre-medical student. Overwhelmed by the multitude of new career options and majors—and, of course, rigorous science courses—I decided to take some time to explore other options within social work and genetic counseling, double majoring in human biology and gender studies. It wasn’t until I graduated from college when I realized that my true passions lie within a career in medicine, specifically as a physician.

I applied to the UC Berkeley Extension Post-Baccalaureate Health Professions Program because courses were offered close to home, which would allow me to work full time and balance classes. I was a student from August 2019 to April 2022, during which I took several classes that helped prepare me to take the MCAT and apply to medical school.

My most memorable courses were Organic Chemistry with Dr. Michael Kelleher and Biochemistry with Dr. Daniel Benjamin, both amazing instructors who were able to make complicated concepts finally make sense. I appreciate the help that Dr. Monica GuhaMajumdar gave me as I was preparing for my medical school interviews and my classmates who supported me throughout the application process. I’ve learned so much from my peers and value the diverse experiences they brought into the program that inspired me to continue on this path.

I am currently an M1 at Northeast Ohio Medical University, working toward my M.D. and am so grateful to be here. The UC Berkeley Extension program helped me become a more competitive applicant to continue this journey.


Arun Neupane: University of Arizona, Tucson (MD)

Headshot of Arun Neupane

I was inspired to be a physician at an early age after experiencing numerous health care disparities. As a first-generation immigrant, I had to jump through several hoops to get where I am today. The UC Berkeley Extension Post-Baccalaureate Health Professions Program provided me with a support structure to pursue my dream.

In the program, I met numerous like-minded classmates who were pursuing similar dreams. In addition, as a student of the program, I had access to several resources such as MCAT preparation classes, interview and application advising sessions, and learning how to write an inspiring personal statement. I am thankful to Dr. Monica GuhaMajumdar and other program members for providing me with such a wonderful opportunity.