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Our Co-Directors

Dr. Juan Robles, BxCHL Co-director

Family Medicine Physician, Montefiore FHC

Assistant Professor, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Dr. Juan Robles was born in Honduras. He moved to the South Bronx at the age of 13. Growing up socioeconomic disadvantaged and caring for underserved communities was a powerful motivation for him to pursue a career in primary care. Although he faced difficulties upon moving to the U.S. and needing to learn English, he graduated as the valedictorian of South Bronx High School. He went on to attend Cornell University and graduated with a B.S in Biology while on the pre-med track. He continued his educational pursuits and earned a Master's Degree in biology from NYU. He then taught science as a New York CIty Teaching Fellow as well as volunteered at Einstein's ECHO Clinic as a translator for its many Spanish-speaking clients. All this work culminated with an acceptance to Albert Einstein College of Medicine as part of the Class of 2011. He later completed Einstein's Family Medicine residency program. Dr Robles is heavily involved in improving health and nutrition literacy in communities, starting weight loss programs, and mentoring underrepresented minority students to pursue careers in health. He is currently an attending Family Medicine physician in the Department of Family and Social Medicine at Montefiore and an assistant professor of Family Medicine at Einstein.

Dr. Julissa De La Cruz, BxCHL Co-director and Founding Coordinator

Resident at Mount Sinai

Julissa was born and raised in the South Bronx to Dominican parents, a factory worker and a dishwasher. Growing up in an impoverished and gang-ridden neighborhood with limited resources was challenging, but it also fueled Julissa's early goals to effect change in her community. She decided to become the first doctor in her family. Her path was not straightforward: she completed a year at the University of Miami and briefly attended New York University before taking a break to work. During this time she also had a daughter, but she remained persistent in her goals. She graduated Lehman College and earned a full scholarship to Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where she is currently a second-year medical student.

Dr. Maria Gbur

Medical Director, Montefiore Family Health Center

Dr. Maria Gbur is a lifelong New Yorker who received her undergraduate degree from SUNY Stony Brook, her medical degree from SUNY Downstate, and her residency training in Family Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center. She is a Board-certified family physician with a long history of clinical leadership in programs serving marginalized populations in New York City. She has served as Chief Medical Officer for Housing Works, Inc., an HIV services organization with four health care facilities, as Medical Director of the New York City Bureau of Correctional Health Services, and as Medical Director of the Ryan-NENA Community Health Center on the Lower East Side. She has also served as Medical Director for the American Medical Center in Kiev, Ukraine, as voluntary faculty in the Department of Community Medicine at CUNY Sophie Davis School of Medicine, and as Director of the inpatient family medicine unit at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. In summer 2011 Dr. Gbur became the Medical Director of the Montefiore Fordham Family Health Center, where she brings wisdom, expertise, and leadership to patients and staff alike.

Founding Coordinators

Julissa De La Cruz, Hyrjana Dibra, Alexis Rodriguez, and Harly Rodriguez started as the first coordinators. They created the website and the application. They also recruited applicants from local colleges and post-bacc programs. Through these efforts they arranged for the weekly volunteering of all members at FHC and formed partnerships with community organizations. Soon the program grew to about 50 active members: future physicians, physician assistants, nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists, health educators, and administrators.

Hyrjana Dibra, Co-Founder

Associate Director of Science at Emblazon Academy

Ana was born and raised in a small town in Albania. In 2011, after being selected for a lottery visa, her family immigrated to the Bronx. Her interest in medicine began at a very young age and peaked throughout college as she volunteered extensively in clinics and hospitals, conducted research, and had the opportunity to meet passionate mentors eager to better the health of her community. After participating in programs aimed at improving health in the Bronx, she learned more about the social component of medicine. These experiences have also driven her passion for helping other pre-health disadvantaged students find opportunities for peer support and mentorship. She graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelors of Arts in Biology from Lehman College.

Alexis Rodriguez.jpg

Alexis is a Bronx, New York native and of Dominican background. His experiences living and working in underserved, impoverished neighborhoods via community outreach, mentorship in public schools and research in Montefiore Medical Center have exposed him to the injustices that manifest themselves within the many structural components of our society. He is determined as a student, mentor, academic, and future medical doctor to dedicate his life to the disenfranchised. Alexis graduated in 2013 from the University of Pennsylvania as a double major in English and Urban Studies. He was granted conditional acceptance to University of Illinois School of Medicine and is projected to graduate in 2022. 

Alexis Augustin Rodriguez, Co Founder

Currently at University of Illinois College of Medicine Class of '22

Harly is a native to the University Heights and Kingsbridge Heights sections of the Bronx, and of Dominican background. Growing up there, he developed pride for his community and became impassioned with solving the challenges we face. Harly has a strong interest in empowering socially and economically disadvantaged scholars who possess a drive to change their Bronx community by challenging the social determinants of health. He graduated from Syracuse University, where he double majored in Neuroscience and Psychology while cultivating a passion for community service. He then attended Lehman College, where he took the bulk of his pre-med courses. Harly hopes to pursue a career in primary care, and as of now, is interested in Family Medicine, Psychiatry, and public health.

Harly Rodriguez, Co Founder

Currently a Graduate Student at University of Vermont

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