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Physician related to Cesar Chavez follows in her family’s legacy of helping others


SELMA – Cesar Chavez’s heritage of helping others is at work in Adventist Health’s Community Care-Selma clinic as Dr. Christina Chavez, a grandniece of the civil rights activist, serves her first year of residency training at the University of California, San Francisco-Fresno Family Medicine Residency Program there.
Dr. Chavez began the program in July. She attended medical school in Chicago at the University of Illinois but knew she wanted to come back to the Valley to practice.
“In my own right eye, this is my part of the Chavez legacy,” Dr. Chavez said. “To be practicing in Latino farmworker land and contributing to my Tio Cesar’s dream of helping others.”
Dr. Chavez knew she wanted to be a doctor since she was 5 years old. As she grew up in Berkeley, Calif., picketing on the front lines for the United Farm Workers, was a regular weekend activity. Her parents, both attorneys, even met working as organizers for the picket lines.
But Dr. Chavez chose a different route to carry on the Chavez legacy: through family medicine. Dr. Chavez feels family medicine is on the front lines of health care and that it will become the most popular form of practice in the Valley.
She chose the Adventist Health/Community Care clinic at 1041 Rose Ave. in Selma to complete the three years of her residency training because of it’s large, diverse population of Latinos. When she started the program, no one knew of her heritage until someone asked one day. 
“When I was asked if I was related to Cesar Chavez, and I answered yes, one of the residents said I am like ‘Mexican royalty’ in this area!” Dr. Chavez said with a laugh.     
Although she is reserved about her family history, Dr. Chavez has always worked to keep the mentality of her great-uncle alive. For medical school assignments back in Chicago, she would use his quotes about education and health care to get her points across in presentations and reports. 
“Family practice is unique because once you change the life of one patient, you can make a difference in their whole family,” Dr. Chavez said.     
Dr. Chavez will complete three years of residency training alongside fellow first-year residents Dr. Luis Martinez and Dr. Carlos Yoo.  
The Adventist Health Selma Family Medicine Residency is associated with the University of California, San Francisco-Fresno. As many as nine residents at a time, three in each year of residency, rotate through under the instruction of five faculty members in a program intended to highlight rural medicine. 
In addition, other residents rotate through to gain experience in pediatrics and obstetrics. The residents see patients at the clinic and at Selma Community Hospital next door. The Selma program has produced many physicians for rural Valley communities including Selma, Kerman, Orange Cove and Reedley.