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Anthony Chavarria-Garcia
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Anthony Chavarria-Garcia

Great Expectations: WesternU, Year One.

Anthony Chavarria-Garcia has just finished his first six weeks of medical school at WesternU, and he is not just surviving, he is thriving. The first year can be overwhelming, but the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP) he completed with mentors and counselors at WesternU, engaging curriculum, and a culture of support are all helping him move forward in becoming the physician he has always wanted to be.

Chavy in a white coat
Anthony Chavarria-Garcia during Welcome Week 2022.


WesternU is one of 12 institutions in the nation that has a SHPEP program, which gives local students from under-represented backgrounds an opportunity to participate in a mini-curriculum of varying health care disciplines (medical, dental, optometry, and more), so they can discover the one that interests them. It is part of WesternU’s unique commitment to diversity, that also introduces students to the faculty and to the difference that committed educators and mentors can make in shaping a meaningful future.

For Anthony, the program’s scope and the way it encouraged him to learn was the perfect launchpad for having a successful medical school experience.


WesternU offers 27 programs for the health professions across 8 distinct colleges. See the full list of programs and find the one that’s right for you.


Being a difference-maker starts at WesternU.

As Anthony says, “I’ve always wanted to be a difference-maker, to practice medicine in an area as diverse as the one I grew up in. One that looks like me and my family. Most doctors don’t understand the life experience barriers that exist. I want to represent those people. Give them a voice. Let them know that their health is in good hands.”

That is the kind of physician that WesternU educates, mentors and supports, from a student’s university years, all throughout their career. WesternU’s commitment to academic excellence, in conjunction with deep empathy for the difficulties people experience in all aspects of their lives, provides students with the academic and emotional tools to practice the most effective and humanistic medicine.

Chavy at a SHPEP session.

WesternU Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP) students in the medical track get hands-on experience in Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment and the Osteopathic Structural Exam led by College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific Associate Professor Brian Loveless, DO ‘02, and several COMP students and SHPEP teacher assistants, including Medical Track TA, Anthony Chavarria-Garcia.

Putting health equity into practice.

According to Anthony’s formula, “Humanism + diversity + equity = equality.” He intends to use the academics and the skills he is learning at WesternU to help find solutions for people who do not have access to quality care. To create equal opportunities for patients to receive the procedures or medications they need, to help provide education for patients, and to inspire students to go into the field.

“Having health care providers as diverse as the communities they serve gives patients role models they aren’t used to seeing. I didn’t have role models. I didn’t know any college grads. Knowing that I’m going to be a doctor is really important for people to see. He did it, so I can, too. I can help those kids move forward.”


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The WesternU difference.

Ask Anthony what the WesternU difference means to him and he jumps right in: the openness of the faculty, their willingness to help, the way they demand excellence, the way the WesternU community helps the Pomona community. The linkage and mentorship programs that encourage students to look into medical professions is part of WesternU’s commitment to fostering a diverse and compassionate healthcare workforce, dedicated to serving underserved populations and improving the overall health of the community.

Anthony could go on and on, but we should let him get back to class.

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Let’s bring better patient care to every community. WesternU is a vibrant community of faculty, staff, students and external partners embodying empathy and compassion. It is a great place to work, learn and serve the community.