Yuki Matsuzawa, center, with Mesa College President Ashanti Hands, and two cross country students and a cross country coach.

Yuki Matsuzawa, center, helped save the life of a 66-year-old athlete who collapsed during the annual Senior Games Track Meet held at Mesa College’s Merrill Douglas Stadium. 

Alumni carry on practice of equity and excellence in health and wellness

November 6, 2023 | San Diego Community College District

From saving lives to making accessible diagnostic tests and making sure basic needs are met in the community, in the past year, three San Diego Mesa College alumni have exhibited excellence and are making a name for themselves in the arena of health and wellness.

Quick thinking, training 

Mesa College athletic trainer and alumnus Yuki Matsuzawa helped save the life of a 66-year-old athlete, who collapsed after his event during the annual Senior Games Track Meet held on campus at Merrill Douglas Stadium. When the senior runner collapsed, student-athletes Sidney Garcia and Azu­cena Hernandez quickly called 911 then ran to get Matsuzawa, the Certified Athletic Trainer for the event. 

Matsuzawa immediately applied the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and began cardiopulmonary resuscitation chest compressions and ensured that emergency medical services personnel were on their way. Upon arrival, the EMS crew took over and the senior athlete was stabilized and survived the incident. 

Matsuzawa’s actions at the event helped him earn the title of California Community College Athletic Trainers Association 2022-23 Athletic Trainer of the Year. Now, he is putting his skills to use as a San Diego Padres Minor League athletic trainer in Peoria, Arizona. 

Fighting infectious diseases 
Mireille Kamariza wearing a black jacket
Mireille Kamariza

Alumna Mireille Kamariza, a chemical biologist, focuses her research on infectious disease, including developing low-cost, point-of-care diagnostics. As a doctoral student at Stanford University she developed a technology, for which she was awarded a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant, that helps to detect and diagnose tuberculosis at the point-of-care. 

A native of the Republic of Burundi, Kamariza immigrated to the United States and at­tended Mesa College before transferring to UC San Diego for her bache­lor’s degree in biochemistry. She received her master’s degree from University of California, Berkeley, and a Ph.D. from Stanford University, both in cell biology. Kamariza was recognized as one of the World’s Most Powerful Women by Fortune Magazine in 2017 and was named one of Chemical & Engineering News’ Talented 12 in 2020. Kamariza was a Harvard Junior Fellow and recently became an assistant professor of bioengineering at University of California, Los Angeles. 

As a co-founder of OliLux Biosciences, Inc., a company dedicated to providing low-cost, portable, and reliable diagnostic devices in low-resource settings, Kamariza pushes her mission of helping underserved and under­represented populations.

Basic needs accessibility 
Carmen Leedham wearing a lavender sweater
Carmen Leedham

Geographic Information Sys­tems alumna Carmen Leedham assists the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency to provide support for Aging, Independent, and Public Health Services. Leedham, who completed her GIS certification at Mesa College in 2019 and her B.A. in geography from San Diego State University, per­forms different tasks using GIS.

Leedham helps create static and web maps and performs geospatial analysis to assist with tracking how many Cal Fresh recipients live in each part of the County of San Diego. She is part of a group of people working to make sure that the basic needs of our community are met, and that resources are available. 

“I used to be a customer of the County of San Diego and I used to receive Cal Fresh. I saw how the County of San Diego helped me,” Leedham stated . “I see how it helps other people who are in that situation, and I know that some good is being done. That is rewarding to me. The things that I care about are making sure that people are able to live well and thrive, rather than just survive and get by. It’s nice to know that there is a group of people working to make sure that the basic needs of our community are met, and that resources are available.”

Subscribe to newscenter

Upcoming Events

More Events