Pediatric Dentistry Residents - Class of 2024
Adam Rodriguez, D.D.S.
Born and raised in Pomona, CA, Dr. Adam Rodriguez has had his educational pursuits take him all over the country. His journey began when he left Southern California to attend Duke University in Durham, North Carolina (Go Blue Devils!), and it was here where he originally became interested in becoming a dentist. Having spent time shadowing and working in the community during his 4 years at Duke, he realized the challenges patients faced when accessing quality dental care, and he wanted to do something about it! After receiving his Bachelors of Arts in History, Adam spent a year teaching back in his home town working with kids from all backgrounds and ages. He had a blast finding ways to engage his students in the classroom, and credits his journey to pediatric dentistry having worked as a teacher beforehand. After his year off, he was excited to further pursue his training at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Dentistry, where he completed his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree. After graduation, Adam continued his journey by moving to Sacramento, California to work at a federally qualified health center serving underserved patient populations for three years before deciding to transition his clinical practice solely on pediatric dentistry. Outside of clinic, you can find Adam staying up to date on the most current personal finances trends and topics, traveling with his favorite sports teams to check out new cities (he hopes to see every major MLB, NFL, and NBA sports venue someday!), and finding new ways to stay active. He is super excited to be a part of the Bruin family and is looking forward to his journey in Pediatric Dentistry.
Catherine Eshaghzadeh, D.D.S.
Dr. Catherine Eshaghzadeh was born in Tehran, Iran and moved to Huntington Beach, CA (surf city!) when she was 4 years old. Coming from a family of dentists, her exposure to dentistry started at a very young age. While she was at UCLA for her Bachelors in Psychobiology, her passion for working with children and community service led her to the UCLA Infant Oral Care Program. Here, she truly fell in love with the tangible change that happens when motivating patients to improve both their child’s oral health and their own. After she graduated from UCLA, she worked at the UCLA Center for Children’s Oral Health (UCCOH) writing grants for oral health, focusing on policy and advocating, and helping to coordinate the Infant Oral Care Program. She then completed her dental school training at the UCLA School of Dentistry, and ultimately received her dream opportunity to be a UCLA-trained Pediatric Dentistry resident (Bruin for life!). Outside of clinic, Catherine enjoys exploring restaurants with her boyfriend Siamak, spending time with her family, playing tennis, biking by the beach, and practicing yoga. She hopes to continue teaching throughout her career and touching many lives through community service and advocacy. Catherine is extremely grateful to pursue her dreams of being a pediatric dentist at UCLA.
Ju Yong Lee, D.D.S.
Dr. Ju Yong Lee was always sort of a nomad, ending up in unexpected places where life would lead him. He grew up in South Korea and lived in Canada for four years from kindergarten to third grade due to his father’s job. After returning to Korea, he attended international school, and for high school, moved to the United States to attend Kent School, a small boarding school in Kent, CT. After living with limited cell service, internet, and outside contact for 4 years, he moved to New York City to enroll in the 7-year accelerated BA/DDS program at New York University. Manhattan was at first, loud, hectic, and fast-paced for the freshman that enrolled at NYU, but over the next seven years, through college and dental school, he grew to love the city in its entirety. 7 years fast forward, after graduating from dental school, he found his first job as a dentist in Visalia, California at a children’s dental clinic. This is where his passion for pediatric dentistry grew, and also where he learned how to drive a car for the first time, raise a cat, and become a master microwave artist. The first few months treating children were intimidating to say the least, but soon he grew to love the creativity, passion, and energy involved in seeing children. After two years of work, he decided to follow his passion and apply to the UCLA pediatric dental residency program. Now, a pediatric dental resident at UCLA, he is extremely excited to spend the next two years discovering LA and becoming the pediatric dentist he dreamt of being. In his free time, he likes to spend time with his cat Simba, working out, playing games, reading novels, and listening to music. He also loves to sing and play guitar, but at an early age, discovered that performing music was not for him.
Yessica Escutia Ponce de Leon, D.D.S.
Dr. Yessica Escutia Ponce de Leon was born and raised in Guanajuato, Mexico. She moved with her family to Woodstock, Illinois when she was a junior in High School. She was highly motivated to learn English as she had always dreamt of going to college and pursuing higher education, which she did! Inspired by her uncle, who is an oral surgeon in Mexico, and by several encounters with wonderful healthcare professionals, she took on the challenge of pursuing a career in Dentistry. After she graduated from Northern Illinois University with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Chemistry, Dr. Yessica moved to Iowa City, Iowa to attend the University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental clinics (Go Hawks!) where besides obtaining her DDS in 2017, she discovered her passion for public health. She was the President and then the Club advisor of the Hispanic Student Dental Association and an active member of the Dental Public Health Club. This gave her the wonderful opportunity to give back to her community and even her own country! Dr. Yessica went on two service-learning trips to Xicotepec, Mexico. Wanting to learn more about public health, she took extracurricular public health classes, which lead her to graduate with a Distinction in Public Health. She then moved to Muskegon, Michigan where she worked as a National Health Service Corps scholar at an FQHC, Hackley Community Care Center. She quickly fell in love with the fun challenge of treating children while working at two school-based programs. Dr. Yessica is incredibly grateful to continue her training as a pediatric resident while pursuing a Master’s in Public Health at UCLA. When Dr. Yessica is not fighting sugar bugs, she is spending time with her husband, Jake, and their two cats, Valentino, and Roo. They love to travel, spend time outdoors, explore new hobbies, and restaurants, but especially visiting their friends and families.
Suzanne Kan, D.D.S.
Dr. Suzanne Kan was born in Malaysia and graduated with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery in 2014. She worked as a general dentist in Malaysia for 4 years, serving her community at a public hospital and later at a private clinic. Originally wanting to pursue esthetic dentistry, a mission trip to Cambodia to serve orphans and homeless children planted a little seed within her. This seed later fully blossomed over the years and she decided to pursue a residency in pediatrics after obtaining her DDS at UCLA. She enjoys having very serious conversations with her patients--like whether they would rather swim in a pool of Jell-O or melted marshmallows. Remember, you're reading the bio of a pediatric resident. So discussions of the sort are of the utmost importance. When she's not in the clinic, you will find her busy cooking, fostering animals, or traveling to cool countries. Dr. Suzanne also loves chocolate and desserts, but she doesn't have a single cavity! Ask her and she will tell you her secrets to keeping your teeth clean and decay free!
Aundrea Goodman, D.D.S.
Dr. Aundrea Goodman is originally from Little Rock, AR but SoCal is her second home. Her journey into dentistry started right after high school. As a registered dental assistant in San Diego, CA, she fell in love with the challenges and rewards of dentistry. She relocated back to Little Rock, AR after having two children, where she finished her undergraduate degree in biology at the University of Arkansas Little Rock. Outside of her career in dentistry , Aundrea enjoys spending time with her children, traveling, high intensity workouts, and trying new foods. As a parent of a child on the autistic spectrum, this had a strong influence as to why she chose to pursue a career in pediatric dentistry during her matriculation of dental school at Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry. She feels that is invaluable for parents with children on the spectrum to have medical professionals who provide high-level and specialized care required for their child. Aundrea would love to pay this forward and also serve the underserved.
Nisha Choksi, D.D.S.
Dr. Nisha Choksi grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, IL. She attended the Gies College of Business at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Finance degree. She knew throughout college that she wanted to become a dentist and even shadowed dentistry in Vienna, Austria! She decided to leave the snow for sunshine and moved to Los Angeles to join the UCLA family for her Doctorate in Dental Surgery. Through rotations, shadowing, and advocacy, Dr. Choksi realized she had a passion for pediatrics and serving the public as a whole. Dr. Choksi was very involved in the California Dental Association and student leadership throughout her dental school education. This led her to pursue pediatric dentistry and she is so grateful to continue her training at UCLA as a pediatric dental resident. Outside of the clinic, Dr. Choksi enjoys volunteering at the Santa Monica Farmers' Market, practicing hot yoga, and spending time with loved ones. Dr. Choksi is so excited to be a provider and advocate for children all while promoting general health! Eat your vegetables :)
Pediatric Dentistry Residents - Class of 2025
Shaylan Vanmali, D.D.S
Shaylan Vanmali is a SoCal native born and raised in the San Fernando valley. After high school he attended the University of California, Santa Barbara where he developed a love for the environment and learning about sustainability which led him to pursue his BS in environmental studies. From young, Shaylan knew he wanted to pursue a profession in healthcare and continued to shadow and volunteer in various health care fields until he discovered dentistry through his sister who practices general dentistry. His interest in dentistry was piqued on 4 different volunteer missions to Mexico through the thousand smiles foundation which provided free dental care to pediatric residents of Ensenada Mexico. After completing undergraduate studies at UCSB Shaylan moved to New York City to begin dental school at Columbia university. His passion for working with the underserved pediatric populations in New York City pushed him to pursue various outreach positions in the Hispanic student dental association as well as a teaching position at Columbia University through a Pre-College Enrichment Program. After obtaining his DDS, Shaylan pursued additional training at a general Practice Residency Program at New York Presbyterian - Weill Cornell. He has now returned to his home city of Los Angeles and is excited to serve the city that he calls home. Outside of dentistry Shaylan enjoys working out, spending time with family and friends, outdoor activities, making TikTok videos, and traveling.
Karolina Brzyska, D.D.S.
Dr. Karolina Brzyska was born in Poland and grew up in (arguably) one of the most diverse areas in the world: Astoria, New York! After graduating from LaGuardia High School as a Visual Arts major, Dr. Karolina studied both biology and psychology at the City University of New York: Hunter College. During this time, she shadowed in a variety of healthcare settings (i.e., in an ophthalmologist’s office, in an emergency room in a hospital, etc.) in pursuit of finding an exciting and fulfilling career. Over time, she realized that the dental profession offers the perfect blend of healthcare, interprofessional collaboration, and it may even serve as a creative outlet: the provider must be both strategic and innovative when addressing each patient’s particular needs! Dr. Karolina attended the UCSF School of Dentistry and was highly involved in a variety of clubs, research, and volunteer work; during this time, she learned to appreciate the power of mentorship, the joy of volunteering with children, and very much looked forward to the annual “Give Kids a Smile Day!”
Dr. Karolina is grateful for the opportunity to learn from her new UCLA family as well as from her wonderful patients. Dr. Karolina strives to educate families on the importance of practicing optimal oral hygiene as well as the benefits of establishing a dental home to help maintain healthy smiles which come in all shapes and sizes
Bernadita Manglona, D.D.S.
Dr. Bernadita Manglona was born and raised in the Mariana Islands. She ventured across the Pacific Ocean to study Public Health and Biology at the University of Washington in Seattle. After years of soul searching, she made the dive into the world of dentistry at the University of California San Francisco. During her time there, she was exposed to many communities across Northern California that experienced similar health inequities that her island community faces.
After dental school, Dr. Bernie headed east to New York City to pursue general practice residency New York Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist. During her time as chief resident, she continued to serve the Brooklyn population through the pandemic when dental offices were closed. She continued to work in family practice in Brooklyn and Queens where her love for serving the pediatric population unfolded. She is thrilled to be a part of the Bruin community while serving the greater Los Angeles community. Dr. Bernie believes in creating a dental sanctuary for children to receive quality, comfortable, and compassionate care. She believes in empowering patients and their caregivers with a strong foundation for their oral health and overall well-being.
Beyond her professional endeavors, she loves frequenting markets to experiment in the kitchen, indulging in pottery and jewelry making, and going on nature walks.
Jade Christensen, D.D.S.
Jade Christensen is a born and bred Los Angeles native, hailing originally from Pasadena. She relocated not far from home to the West Side where she attended UCLA for all of her academic career. Jade's academic journey began at UCLA, where she pursued her passion for understanding the human mind and body. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychobiology. After earning her B.S. in Psychobiology, Jade continued her education at UCLA by enrolling in the School of Dentistry. During her time at UCLA, Jade has actively participated in community outreach programs like "Give Kids a Smile," where she volunteers her time and expertise to provide dental care to underserved children. Her time at UCLA not only provided her with a strong scientific foundation but also instilled in her the values of empathy and kindness that would later shape her career. She is currently pursuing an advanced degree in pediatric dentistry, also at UCLA. All of her experiences up to this point have reaffirmed her commitment to pediatric dentistry and her dedication to improving the oral health of young patients. Outside her academic and professional pursuits, Jade finds solace in spending her free time by the ocean. She is an avid paddle boarder and enjoys swimming in the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. She also takes joy in teaching her friends how to swim, sharing her love for the water and promoting water safety.
Payton Richardson, D.D.S.
Dr. Payton Richardson, originally from the south suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, has a strong background rooted in healthcare and community health awareness. She attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she interned at the Champaign Urbana Public Health District's dental clinic, primarily serving pediatric patients. This experience ignited her interest in pediatric dentistry.
After obtaining her degree in Community Health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Dr. Richardson relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, to pursue her DDS at Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry. Alongside her DDS, she earned a public health certificate from Meharry, further emphasizing her commitment to community well-being.
Being a true water enthusiast, Dr. Richardson's affinity for swimming is part of her nature. She started swimming competitively at nine years old and loves taking a relaxing dip in the pool, snorkeling, and jumping over waves in the ocean. She enjoys traveling, spending time with friends and family, and watching movies in her free time.
Dr. Richardson's career journey led her to specialize in pediatric dentistry, driven by a deep-seated passion for the well-being of young patients. Her commitment to improving pediatric oral health was underscored by her research and involvement in numerous professional and service organizations in dental school. Currently a passionate resident at UCLA, Dr. Richardson continues to positively impact the well-being of children and their families.
Eunice Hahm, D.D.S.
Dr. Eunice Hahm was born in Los Angeles and was raised in Lexington, Massachusetts. She completed her undergraduate education in Human Development at Cornell University. She then moved back to Boston to work as a clinical research coordinator at Massachusetts General Hospital as she prepared for dental school. After two years, she attended Tufts University School of Dentistry and received her D.M.D. in May 2023. Over the course of her education, she built her love for mentorship and volunteering that continued through dental school. This love led to her passion for children’s oral health and her pursuit of pediatric dentistry. Aside from the dental clinic, you can find her trying out new cuisines and restaurants, hiking trails, and hitting balls in the tennis court. She is incredibly excited and thankful to be a part of the UCLA Pediatric Dentistry family and looking forward to starting off her career as a pediatric dentist.
Alexander Han, D.D.S.
Dr. Alexander Han was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. He graduated from University of California, Irvine with a degree in Biology and earned his DMD from Western University of Health Sciences. After dental school, he moved to rural New Mexico serving the underserved population for six years as a general dentist. During these years, he saw first-hand the lack of access to care in these rural populations and realized his passion for working with children. He also worked part time at a correctional facility, where he recognized that humans should treat everyone with the same level of respect no matter the background. He is excited to begin his career as a pediatric dentist and be a part of the Bruin family! In his free time, he enjoys golfing, checking out new restaurants, and hanging out with his family and friends.