As a kid, 22-year-old Loyola Marymount University biochemistry major Charnise Taylor loved to dance. She was on her dance team in high school and took class at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in her Baldwin Hills neighborhood.
Walking around her neighborhood, she couldn’t help but notice the plethora of fast-food restaurants and liquor stores near the home she shared alone with her mother since her father passed away when she was four years old. Chernise later came to understand how those businesses, together with lack of access to fresh food, contributed not only to the negative stereotypes but also to the very real unhealthy habits of her low-income neighbors. The desire to change that ignited her passion to pursue a career in primary care medicine for the underserved.
“I always have to make sure I’m doing something service-related,” said Charnise. “At LMU, we thrive on service and it’s something I want to associate myself with – giving back makes me feel grateful for everything I have.”
Throughout her years at LMU, Charnise volunteered regularly at Venice Family Clinic and taught science to kids with underserved backgrounds. She interned last summer at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, where she was mentored by medical students, toured local community medical centers, and heard inspiring stories from physicians who care for the underserved.
“[The internship] solidified what I wanted to do and showed me that there are so many options to get to that path and so many opportunities to succeed.”
This summer Charnise will begin applying for admission to medical schools. Of course, she’s hoping for UCLA, but she has other schools in her sights. Until then, she will work part-time as a medical scribe at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Compton and hopes to also be offered a service opportunity in Los Angeles with the Community HealthCorps – the national AmeriCorps program that promotes health care for America’s underserved while developing tomorrow’s health care workforce.
LMU small science classes makes it stand out from other universities, Charnise said. It was easy to develop relationships with professors who were always available whenever she needed help.
“It definitely wasn’t easy all the time,” she said. “As the first person in my family to attend college, I had to find my own way – but I think I came out stronger.”