A Champion for Healthcare Access: Yessika Moreno Ramirez ’92

UWC-USA is pleased to announce that Yessika Moreno Ramirez ’92 is this year’s Giulio Regeni Alumni Impact Award Winner. Yessika joins Julie Hall ‘84, Rene Celaya ‘88, and others as alumni honored by their peers for work inspired by the UWC mission and their time at UWC-USA.

After graduating from UWC-USA in 1992, Yessika studied medicine in her native Costa Rica and began her career as a general physician in the countryside serving the needs of rural patients. In 2002 she accepted a position in the pharmaceutical industry as a research supervisor. Her first project, testing a rotavirus vaccine that saved the lives of many children in Central America, represented an opportunity to have an impact on more patients than she could as a physician. Throughout her career she worked on many other projects and in July 2020, just a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic, she joined Pfizer Mexico as Director of Medical Affairs. 

As Director of Medical Affairs, Yessika was responsible for bringing Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to Mexico. She negotiated with skeptical federal officials uniting the conservative establishment and a new progressive government. For months, Yessika led negotiations that were difficult, time-consuming, stressful, and required her to step out of her comfort zone. Thanks to Yessika’s perseverance and skill, Mexico approved the Pfizer vaccine in December 2020, two hours before it was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Yessika’s ability to listen to others, understand their concerns, and craft solutions – skills that were further developed in Montezuma while a student at UWC-USA – led to the approval of a life-saving vaccine in Mexico.

This year’s finalists also included Nicole Paulet Piedra ‘09 and Patricia Mengech ‘88.

About Giulio Regeni ’07: Giulio Regeni was an Italian citizen and a doctoral student at Cambridge University in the UK. He was conducting his Ph.D. research on the formation of independent trade unions, specifically the street vendors’ union, in Egypt after the fall of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. He was in Cairo conducting field research when on January 25, 2016, the fifth anniversary of the “25 January Revolution,” he disappeared. His body was found nine days later.

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