Profile: Raul Ruiz, first Hispanic to receive 3 degrees from Harvard

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Dr. Raul Ruiz, 39, was born in the Coachella Valley, California. The son of farm workers, he lived in a trailer with his family during his first years of life.

He graduated at 17 from the Coachella Valley High School. Determined to become a medical doctor to serve others, in 1990 he went to college at UCLA, thanks to the financial support from members of the community and friends.

Dr. Raul Ruiz

At only 39, Dr. Raul Ruiz is an accomplished doctor and awarded humanitarian who volunteers his time and efforts to fight health disparities among Hispanics in California. (Photos courtesy Dr. Raul Ruiz)

Ruiz graduated magna cum laude at UCLA and then earned his medical degree at Harvard’s Medical School.  During and after his education at Harvard, Ruiz also volunteered and worked abroad. He spent a year as a medical student with Partners In Health, bringing health care to the poor in Chiapas, Mexico. In El Salvador and Serbia, he served as consultant to the ministers of health on emergency healthcare reform.

After obtaining his MD, he got a master’s degree in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a master’s in Public Health at Harvard School of Public Health. He became the first Latino to ever receive three graduate degrees from Harvard.

He returned in 2007 to Coachella Valley to fulfill his promise to serve the community as a physician. He presently works as an emergency physician at the Eisenhower Medical Center, the Coachella Valley’s only nonprofit hospital. He is also a Senior Associate Dean at the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine.

As the founder and director of the Coachella Valley Healthcare Initiative he has prompted participation from all healthcare stakeholders to seek solutions to the barriers that limit people’s access to health.

Ruiz also founded a pre-med mentorship program, the Future Physician Leaders program, for students from underserved communities who want to become doctors and return to their community to serve.

He has also helped open clinics that provide free care and health education to underserved communities throughout the Coachella Valley.

He has received humanitarian awards including one from the San Gorgonio Pass Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in 2010, and the Commander’s Award for Public Service from U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne division for his humanitarian efforts for Haiti’s earthquake victims in 2011.

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