When Irvin Garcia received his white coat as a first-year student at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, he posted a photo on social media so his friends and family could share in his proud moment.

He didn’t expect to hear from scores of strangers saying things like, “I’ve never seen a Latino medical student ever in my life. This is so cool,” he says.

It made Garcia realize how important visibility and representation can be — a notion he shared recently with a gathering of Latino medical and dental students.

“Just your existence here, in these spots, is super powerful,” he told them. “We don’t even think about it, but literally just sharing that we’re medical students on social media, people just see that and reach out.”

It was that moment — and his friendship with classmate Alexis Aleman — that led to the birth of @foosinmedicine, an Instagram profile where the two men share their experiences as first-generation Latino medical students. The page has already garnered more than 56,000 followers.

“I think we both didn’t expect this kind of impact,” says Aleman, adding that he “wasn’t really a huge social media person” before they launched the account in 2022.

“But after that conversation, I realized how much it would have meant to me if I would have seen someone from South Central L.A. doing this,” says Aleman, who grew up in the neighborhood. “And if I would have seen that, that would have inspired me so much more to (think), ‘Oh, I could actually do it then. Someone is doing it.’”

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