Skip to Main Content

Elsie Gonzalez-Hurtado

Fifth-year MD-PhD student

Where did you grow up and where were you living immediately prior to medical school?

My parents moved to the U.S. from Mexico and raised me and my three siblings in the great city of Long Beach, California. I feel extremely proud to be the daughter of immigrant parents who have always been loving, supportive, and who instilled upon me a hard work ethic from an early age. After spending 15 years living 15 minutes away from the beach, my parents decided to relocate our family to Riverside, California. According to my parents, our move from Long Beach to Riverside was a strategic one, since it provided my parents with additional space to continue running their small business – a “talabarteria” or saddlery workshop which has operated from our home for over 20 years now. In fact, my first job growing up was working with leather in my parents’ workshop. To save on costs, I attended community college before transferring to a four-year University. After obtaining a Bachelors in Biochemistry from the University of California Riverside, I decided to take a chance and move across the country to Baltimore, Maryland. I spent two years doing research as a post-baccalaureate student at Johns Hopkins (whilst also complaining about the lack of sunshine during the cold Winters every chance I got). My time working at Johns Hopkins was critical for confirming my passion for research and confirmed my desire to pursue a career as a physician-scientist. I relocated to New Haven, Connecticut in the late Summer of 2017 to start my training as a physician-scientist through Yale’s MD/PhD program. I am close to reaching my 7th year of living on the East coast and will admit that I have not stopped complaining about the cold weather every chance I get. However, a decent winter coat and the amazing people I have met while at Yale have made this journey worth every minute.

Why did you choose Yale School of Medicine?

I was drawn to Yale because it offers fantastic physician and physician-scientist training and presents students with a unique medical school curriculum that places less of an emphasis on competition & grades and a greater emphasis on collaboration & curiosity. In addition to the above, I ultimately decided Yale was the right place for me because students openly supported one-another in and outside of the classroom and students here seemed genuinely happy. Moreover, I was incredibly impressed by student’s enthusiasm for finding and creating ways to give back to the greater New Haven community, such as through the student-run HAVEN Free Clinic and the Neighborhood Health Project. In addition, as an underrepresented minority in medicine (URM), I was drawn to Yale’s strong commitment towards Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts. Simply put, my decision to come to Yale just felt right, and it still does.

Can you briefly describe your schedule on a typical weekday?

As an MD/PhD student who is currently in the lab, my days can be quite atypical, but you can always count on my mornings starting with a strong cup of coffee and a sizeable breakfast. As a PhD student, I am more or less in control of my own schedule. Mondays usually consist of planning experiments for the week, preforming mouse colony maintenance tasks, updating my lab notebook, and starting any experiments that might span the rest of the week, such as immunofluorescence experiments which require multiple days of sample processing prior to imaging samples on a microscope. I also attend bi-weekly meetings as an Outreach Fellow within the Yale BBS Diversity and Inclusion Collective (YBDIC), a graduate student run organization committed to fostering the intellectual and personal growth of underrepresented minority (URM) students in and outside of Yale. Tuesday through Thursday are less predictable but tend to consist of conducting experiments that consist of me handling a pipette, microscope, or many mice. Throughout the week, I also attend Departmental seminars, talks, and lectures for any course I might be taking or auditing during the academic semester. During the week I also meet regularly with my undergraduate mentee, and less frequently with collaborators or advisors. On Fridays I have my one-on-one meeting with my thesis advisor, attend our weekly lab meeting, and spend some time analyzing and/or interpreting any data I may have produced throughout the week. On the weekend, there may be an occasional experiment or two… but I’ll refrain from discussing that!

What neighborhood do you live in/near New Haven?

I have lived in the same apartment complex in downtown New Haven since my first year at Yale. The ability to walk to Yale New Haven Hospital in under 7-minutes, my lab in under 10-minutes, and all my favorite coffee shops, restaurants, and bars in under 15-minutes has been a huge reason for remaining in the downtown area. I am also fortunate to have amazing friends/classmates who also live in the same apartment building, making regular study and movie nights possible!

What is your favorite thing to do in/near New Haven?

One of my favorite things to do in New Haven is to head over to the Yale University Art Gallery on a Saturday morning and check out new exhibitions or revisit some of my favorite art pieces. When I need to get some work done or just need a new book to read, I love heading over to BookTrader, a rad coffee shop and used bookstore across the street from the Art Gallery. If I’m catching up with friends, my favorite spot is Rudy’s Bar – their vibes, fries, and maple sriracha dipping sauce are phenomenal. A favorite recent tradition of mine has been to take walks through West Ridge State Park during the peak of Fall – the Fall foliage is mesmerizing!

Do you have any final thoughts or advice for prospective students?

In the abridged words of Kendrick Lamar, whether you decide to come to Yale or not, remember to: “Take advantage. Do your best, don’t stress. You [were] granted everything inside this planet, anything you imagine, you possess”.