Undergraduate Highlight: Nora and Sunsaara

April 26, 2024

All of the students featured in this section are graduating seniors who are a part of our second cohort of Advanced LEAP Scholars 2022-24. Read below to learn more about Nora and Sunsaara’s undergraduate experiences at UC Berkeley!

 The program served as a pivotal point in my life, providing not only valuable academic lessons but also a supportive community that became a second family.

Jessica Nora Lopez

Major: Public Health

Tell us about your LEAP 2023 Summer Internship

​​My Summer Internship took place at UCSF California Preterm Birth Initiative (PTBI), where I engaged in diverse projects aimed at addressing maternal and child health challenges. One significant project focused on Human Milk Feeding in San Francisco, where I participated in a landscape analysis addressing disparities in breastfeeding rates. Shadowing interviews and conversations with key stakeholders provided invaluable insights into community needs and resources. Additionally, my involvement with the Black Coalition for Birth Justice underscored the imperative of dismantling systemic barriers and advocating for policy changes to address Black maternal inequities. Through these experiences, I gained a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding birth equity and the pivotal role of community partnerships in effecting meaningful change.

Are there any other MCAH-related extracurriculars that you're involved in?

Currently, I am involved in various MCAH-related extracurricular activities. As a student assistant at CDPH Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Branch in Richmond, California, I contribute to the care management branch, working directly with Public Health nurses and doctors. My responsibilities include data management, communication with healthcare providers and clinics, and educational outreach with families statewide. Additionally, I volunteer at Highland Hospital in Alameda, assisting in the MCH unit, which encompasses the NICU, Postpartum, and Labor & Delivery. This involvement allows me to shadow doctors, perform administrative tasks, and contribute to educational outreach for new mothers and birthing people. 

 The LEAP program has been instrumental in my personal development, introducing me to research opportunities within and outside of UC Berkeley, aiding in post-grad planning, and much more.

Sunsaara Shergill

Major: Public Health

Tell us about your LEAP 2023 Summer Internship

I did my Summer Internship at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research with the “Study of Women, Infant Feeding, and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus after GDM Pregnancy (SWIFT)” Follow-up. The SWIFT Women study arm aims to develop a simple blood test for early prediction of future diabetes in women with a GDM pregnancy by identifying metabolites from a single blood sample after delivery that indicate early changes that signify diabetes risk before changes in glucose levels occur. The SWIFT Study in Youth will determine how early life factors, such as early infant diet, child nutrition, and behavior may affect the development of obesity and cardiometabolic health of pre-adolescent children of mothers enrolled in the adjacent follow-up study.

In my role as a Research Assistant, I managed lab blood processing, including centrifuging and pipetting blood samples, data collection of blood processing information, assisting with lab operations and workflow, as well as interacting with and escorting patients to their rooms and lab.

Are there any other MCAH related extracurriculars that you're involved in?

I was a Chief of Staff in the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) focusing on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment (SVSH) prevention and Mental Health advocacy for the South Asian community.