Alumni Profile: Maurice Zissen
By the time Maurice Zissen was 12 years old, he was translating for his mother during doctor visits because there were no bilingual doctors who she was able to communicate with. Maurice realized there was a great need for bilingual health care professionals who were also culturally sensitive to their patients’ needs.
“What initially motivated me to become a doctor was my urge to change the health care system that my mom had experienced,” said Maurice. “And that maybe I could prevent this situation for someone else’s mother.”
Maurice was born and raised in Chula Vista, CA, which is the second largest city in southern San Diego County. When Maurice was too young to translate, his mother would travel to Tijuana, Mexico to receive medical care because she could not find affordable healthcare in Chula Vista. It was then that Maurice decided to pursue a career in engineering and medicine.
“By volunteering at local community clinics, I learned that the challenges my mother faced of accessing healthcare were not unique to her but unfortunately a common problem for many low socio-economic communities,” he said.
While in high school, his guidance counselors discouraged Maurice by telling him that those two professions were among the hardest to achieve.
One of Maurice’s high school teachers became his mentor. “I had a very good high school biology teacher,” said Maurice. “He stood out as one of the better teachers at my high school because he modeled the class like a college classroom.”
After graduating from high school, Maurice attended Stanford University, where he earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biomedical Computation from the School of Engineering.
“During my time at Stanford, I volunteered as a medical interpreter and benefits analyst at Stanford’s free community clinics,” said Maurice. His work motivated him to pursue his medical degree at Stanford Medical School. Currently, Maurice is in his third year at Stanford University School of Medicine.
Maurice is also passionate about community service. Once he finishes medical school, he plans to return to San Diego to practice medicine and serve as a mentor. “I want to show other students at Chula Vista High School that success is possible with enough drive and motivation,” he said. “I would like to help out patients in need, and work to try and help improve the health care system at large.”
“I believe that HSF’s mission is the necessary first step in improving the educational quality of Latino students in the United States. With more Latino college graduates in the workforce that can act as leaders, mentors, and parents to the next generation of Latino students, the brighter the future will be,” said Maurice about HSF.
Maurice credits his academic achievement to the support of the three scholarships he received from the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF).
“When I first received the HSF scholarship, I felt both extremely honored to be selected as an HSF recipient and relieved that I would not be alone in financing my college education,” said Maurice. “Each subsequent year that I received an HSF scholarship, helped me move closer to my career goals that would not have otherwise been possible.”
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