Denisse Rojas Marquez

No longer afraid: an undocumented immigrant's experience in American health care

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About Denisse Rojas Marquez

Denisse Rojas Marquez envisions a health care system where no individual is excluded. Growing up as an undocumented immigrant, she and her family had limited health care options, and as a result, they found themselves often delaying treatment for illnesses and using free or subsidized health care. These experiences inspired Denisse to become a doctor and to work in underserved communities. After graduating from UC Berkeley in 2012, Denisse co-founded Pre-Health Dreamers (PHD) to provide advising, resources, and advocacy to other undocumented youth who aspire to pursue medicine like herself. Denisse’s story has been featured in CNNMoney and National Public Radio’s Latino USA, and Forbes magazine recognized Denisse in its "30 Under 30" most influential entrepreneurs in education. Denisse is currently taking a pause from her medical studies at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine to pursue a Masters in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.

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About This Talk

“My mother held a one way ticket in one hand. I squeezed her other hand not knowing when I would see her again”. In her TEDMED 2018 Talk, Denisse Rojas Marquez tells her family’s story as undocumented immigrants navigating the US health system. When Denisse’s mother, a hardworking nurse, was denied necessary healthcare in the US due to her immigration status, she was forced to move to Canada, leaving her loved ones behind. These experiences motivated Denisse to pursue a medical career and advocate for policy change to provide basic health care to our nation’s most vulnerable and disenfranchised communities. Despite her odds, Denisse studied at a top medical school and launched an organization whose mission centers on helping undocumented students pursue careers in health and science. 

Watch Denisse Rojas Marquez’s TEDMED 2018 Talk to hear how she defied fear and uncertainty to pave a path towards more equitable healthcare in the US.

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