Resident Profiles

Resident Profiles



Resident Spotlights

Arija Iverson

Arija Weddle, PGY2Arija is in the Fellowship and Hospitalist Based Careers Track.

Where you are from: I was born and raised in Fairfield, CT; attended college at Yale University in New Haven, CT; worked for a few years in children's book publishing in New York City; and then returned to CT for medical school at UConn. When I moved out to Los Angeles for residency, it was the first time in 30 years I'd ever lived more than an hour's drive from home!
What your interests are in residency/career/future: Ideally, I'd like to work in a higher acuity setting where I have continuity with complex patients - most likely as a hospitalist or perhaps as an intensivist. I'm very interested in palliative and comfort care, as well as long-term management of chronic illness and its impact on patients, siblings, and family. I also plan on being involved in academic medicine through as much of my career as possible - working at an academic medical center means access to the latest in medical education, research, and technology, which is really exciting to me.

Why you chose UCLA: I wanted to train in a setting where I'd have access to some of the most medically complex patients on earth while still getting a solid foundation in general pediatrics, both in- and outpatient. Also, it was important to me to train in a place where I could use and continue to develop my Spanish-language skills. I did a rotation at UCLA as a 4th year med student and was very impressed with the quality of teaching from the faculty, as well as the genuine rapport among the residents.

What you love about Los Angeles or life in LA: Am I allowed to say the weather?! Coming from New England, where it sometimes snows in April and summer days have 100% humidity, I absolutely love living in a place where even when I leave the hospital at the end of a long shift, it's sunny and warm outside. I have easy access to the beach and to some of the most magnificent hiking I've ever experienced. Plus, I love living in a culturally important city -- Los Angeles is so vibrant, diverse, and full of history, and different geographically and culturally from the Northeast cities I grew up around. I think everyone should live in LA for at least a little while given the chance!

What you might want an interested resident to know or advice (or a fun fact about yourself): I moved to Los Angeles without a car and have made it almost a year using public transportation and commuting by bicycle. LA is obviously known as a driving city, but it's actually a GREAT biking city too -- no rain, not too many hills (on the West side, at least), lots of bike lanes, and bike parking all over the place. PLUS you beat traffic -- during rush hour I routinely get to work faster than my coworkers who drive cars!


Brenda Barajas MedinaBrenda Barajas Medina

Where you are from: I was raised a proud Tapatia/Zacatecana in Anaheim, California. I am an alumna of Stanford University (B.A., M.Sc.) and the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Charles R. Drew Medical Education Program.

What are your interests in residency/career/future (ideal job, fellowship, research or other): My personal and professional experiences in underserved areas have clearly demonstrated the importance of addressing determinants of health and form the cornerstone to what drew me toward medicine as a career. I am interested in developing my medical career further within patient advocacy and global health. My ideal job would entail a balance between contuinity of patient care, a community-based program, and procedures.

Why you chose UCLA: I sought out a program that would offer me a wide range of training opportunities and challenge my flexibility with various degrees of medical complexity and disparate patient populations. I want to be the kind of doctor that can be dropped anywhere in the world, with any population, presented with any problem, and be able to provide quality medical attention. I believe UCLA provides the type of training to foster that type of doctor.

What you love about Los Angeles or life in LA: I love that you can find a little of everything here: beaches and mountains, fine dining and excellent hole-in-the-walls, museums and street art, Rodeo Drive and the DTLA Fashion District,... The list goes on and on.

What you might want an interested resident to know or advice (or a fun fact about yourself): You can not overrate your happiness when it comes to selecting a residency program.

Richard Ogden Roberts Richard Ogden Roberts

Where you are from: I’ve moved around a little bit, but I was born in Las Vegas, NV, and moved to the Midwest at the age of 2, spending a bit of my childhood on a very small cattle farm in Peculiar, MO, a town with more livestock than people. My family moved to the Washington, D.C. area when I was 12, and I went on to attend college at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. After college, I stuck around C'Ville for a couple of years working and subsequently completing a post-bacc. After the post-bacc, I moved to New Orleans for a year to complete an M.P.H. and then returned to U.Va. for medical school prior to moving to Los Angeles for residency. Charlottesville was definitely home by the end of it all, but I’m excited for this new adventure out West.

What your interests are in residency/career/future (ideal job, fellowship, research or other): While I am certainly open to this possibly changing, I'm currently considering fellowship and subspecialization - with likely a future in academic medicine. At this point, I am interested in Peds Endo and Adolescent Medicine, but we'll see... Clinically, I have an interest in the long-term management of chronic disease, coping strategies for children and adolescents with long-term medical needs, and issues affecting adherence to and compliance with medical care, most particularly as those issues relate to a whole variety of endocrinopathies.

Why you chose UCLA: Simply, I chose UCLA for the feel of the program from my interview day. I definitely had a desire to move out to the West Coast for residency, but it came down to really appreciating the individuals I met throughout the interview events at UCLA. I very much enjoyed the happy hour, and then just had a great interview day overall. After the day finished, I spent some time walking aroung the campus on a really lovey SoCal December afternoon, and it all just had me hooked.

What you love about Los Angeles or life in LA: I think the things I love best about Los Angeles are 1) the tacos and 2) exploring the different neighborhoods throughout the city. Seriously, you can get tacos everywhere. And they are all delicious. But above that, this city is extremely diverse and it's awesome to see and experience all the variety it has to offer. There's always something to do - whatever you're into, you name it, it's here somewhere. I will admit however – and this is heresy in LA – I do miss rain from time to time.

What you might want an interested resident to know or advice (or a fun fact about yourself): I think something applicants should know about residency at UCLA is that you, as a resident in this program, will be challenged medically and academically by the diversity and complexity of patients and their medical needs, in a good way. We can see some very complex patients, but I beleive those interactions create a great environment for discussion and learning as it relates to patient care, often across mutiple specialties. It can certainly be tough at times, but I feel it makes for a tremendous educational experience. As for a fun fact about myself, I seriously considered and even interviewed to become a whale trainer prior to medical school. In the end, that didn't end up being my path, but it makes for a good story.


Christine ThangChristine Thang

Where you are from: LA born and raised! Specifically, Glendale, CA.

What are your interests are in residency/career/future (ideal job, fellowship, research or other): After deciding on pediatrics, I realize that through one door, there are now many other doors from which to choose! For one, I would like to find a niche within medical education. I think that there is something special about being involved in all levels of training from undergraduate to graduate medical education. Mentorship is one of my priorities. I also have a couple areas of interest such as infectious disease and endocrinology. I could also see myself as an academic general pediatric hospitalist.

Why you chose UCLA: I should preface this by saying that I went to UCLA for my undergraduate and medical school training. With that said, why not UCLA?! I am so grateful to be considered a "triple Bruin." As an institution, UCLA is at the forefront of everything as a premier university and world leader in health and science. To still be here as a pediatrician-in-training means that I get to learn from amazing faculty members and co-residents. It is such a dynamic institution. I love how everything is essentially centralized on one main campus, and yet, UCLA is part of the larger community, and we as residents are able to rotate at a variety of settings. Additionally, as a resident here, you truly feel like a member of a larger family. When I was a medical student on rotation here and sitting with the faculty and residents, I enjoyed the conversations and liveliness of the program and really wanted this camaraderie and support system during residency.

What you love about Los Angeles or life in LA: There is never a dull moment in this city. The weather is always fantastic, and even when it rains, you have people who are excited that it is raining. Whatever you like to do, you can probably find it here in LA. We have beaches on one side, mountains on the other, deserts, forests, you name it, LA has it. I love living in a large busy city where there is never a dull day. We spend a lot of time in the hospital as residents, but when you step outside, there are so many places, people, and events waiting for you too!

What you might want an interested resident to know or advice (or a fun fact about yourself): One thing I quickly realized during the application process is that residency programs are more alike than they are different. People told me to go with my gut and that meant UCLA for me. I knew that here, I would be happy inside and outside of the hospital. During your interviews, take a moment to step back and see if you can picture yourself working at this location with these people. If time permits, explore the city! The fourth year of medical school is so exciting and fun because you essentially spend a couple weeks just meeting new people and seeing new places. Take advantage of it and embrace this time to explore!


rHinah Parker

Where you are from: I'm from San Diego originally and went to the University of California, Irvine for undergrad. I went out to Milwaukee, WI for medical school at the Medical College of Wisconsin before coming back to LA.

What are your interests: My main area of interest is cardiology and I would love to work with the prenatal patients eventually, it's the ultimate continuity of care working with mothers from early ultrasounds and then following congenital heart kids all the way from the neonatal to the adolescent period. Ideally I would love to have a mix of inpatient/outpatient time, but definitely at an academic center where I can integrate resident education into my career.

Why you chose UCLA: My husband (one of the other current interns) and I interviewed at quite a few places, and UCLA was one of the very few that had exactly what both of us wanted and the only place where we both loved every resident we met. In terms of the program, we appreciated the breadth of training we'd receive, being at private, academic, and county facilities; each one provides such a different perspective on medicine and a nice variation in patient population. And in terms of family life, we're expecting our first baby and we wanted to be somewhere family-friendly; not just somewhere that had a plan in place for residents who wanted to/already had families, but somewhere that had a department who was actively involved in ensuring the best for each resident in terms of opportunities and personal happiness.

What you love about LA: When I left southern California for med school in WI I was so excited for real falls and winters, but after spending 4yrs in the below-zero-windchill weather I realized how much I had taken SoCal for granted. But other than the weather, there is just so much to do so close by: Disneyland, the San Diego Zoo, the Getty, any and every restaurant you could want, and depending on how you define close you could even throw San Francisco in there; it's nice to have so many options to choose from when you have a weekend off.

Resident Advice: Definitely think about quality of life when you're thinking of where you're going to apply and how you end up ranking programs. It makes things so much easier and so much more fun if you're working in good company, so really do take into account how you get along with the residents on the interview day because you'll be working with your seniors a lot.


Michelle Allen-SharpleyMichelle Allen-Sharpley


you are from: I was born and raised in San Jose, CA (in the SF Bay Area). As a young parent, I worked full-time to help raise my family and pay for college - initially worked in Patient Services followed by Human Resources. I attended mostly night classes at De Anza Community College in Cupertino, CA before transferring to San Jose State University to complete my Bachelor of Science degree. I then moved to Irvine, CA with my two children (who were 10 and 11 at the time!) when I was accepted in the Medical Scientist (MD, PhD) Training Program at University of California, Irvine in 2006. During the 8-plus year stint in Irvine, I met my wonderful husband (who is from England) and we expanded the family by two more children. We decided to keep our cohort here in Southern California, at least until the next chapter of life!

What are your interests? I am fascinated by the processes of cognitive and behavioral development – from how the molecular events that orchestrate brain wiring happen in-utero, to how environmental cues affect a developing brain during infancy and early life. By better understanding the normal processes of neurologic development, we will be much better equipped to address neurologic processes gone awry (such as in cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism-spectrum disorders, stroke, and even sensory impairments such as hearing and vision loss). I am training in Pediatric Neurology and my ideal job after training would be as a Physician Scientist with a large commitment to research in developmental neurobiology. I am also a huge advocate of universal healthcare as a right. I feel it is our collective duty to address the striking disparity of healthcare access and lack of resources that underserved populations and geographically isolated communities in our country endure.

Why you chose UCLA: It’s hard to match the beauty of location, affability, and diversity that California promises. But there are three main reasons I specifically chose UCLA for residency:

  1. Amazing people (welcoming, bright, passionate)
  2. Inspirational research (world-renowned institution and investigators, impressive resources)
  3. Perfect location (my husband works here!)

What you love about Los Angeles: We love to find hidden patches of wilderness. We love the trails and the beaches. We love that it’s always sunny. We love that we can spend the morning on a snowy mountaintop and the same evening watching a gorgeous sunset over the Pacific Ocean. We love that [most] Californians are thoughtful and environmentally conscious. We love the academic setting of UCLA and the Westwood area.

Advice: My most useful advice may be related to surviving the unpredictability of life and maintaining sanity with a career and kids… Of sensibility - cook large meals (leftovers are lifesavers), have your kids close together in pairs - (it's hard in the beginning but pays off later on!), appreciate that small steps add up to great distances, teach yourself something new as often as possible (this weekend was making paper boats!), recognize your limitations, help others when you can and accept help when it is available, and chose a career / specialty that you are emotionally attached to (that you enjoy) in order to avoid burnout. Of perspective - embrace laughter, practice mindfulness, don’t get caught up in your own head (I call this “zooming out” to my kids – imagining yourself on a google map, zoom-out slowly until you are just a pixel in the vastness of your city – country – world), pay it forward, and most importantly, do something that recharges your batteries frequently - for me that is cuddling with my husband & kids and pausing to watch the sunset!