Dr. Peter Asante poses for a portrait on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, at Yakima Pediatric Associates, 402 S. 12th Avenue in Yakima, Wash.

Every child is looking for a good role model, said Dr. Peter Asante, a pediatrician at Yakima Pediatrics.

"Kids love it if you're being yourself," he said. "It's important to have good mentors when you're growing up. The reason I'm here is because I've had amazing mentorships. Everything I've always done has been to work with underserved families."

Born in Rhode Island, Asante often tells people he's from the smallest state with the most personality. His mother worked at a pizza place and overnight at a Dunkin' Donuts, while his father worked in a factory. He remembers being on Medicaid - his parents made about $24,000 a year for a family of six. Once a year, he'd get new shoes - a black pair, a brown pair and sneakers, but all had to be less than $20.

Because the school he was supposed to attend was on academic probation, his mother worked to get him into a private school. He attended Harvard University, where he got a bachelor's degree in anthropology.

Growing up, he worked as a camp counselor, taught Sunday school and began feeling comfortable and connected with youth. In college, he worked with a high school program for academically and artistically inclined students who needed a chance.

After medical school at the University of Pittsburgh, Asante did his residency at Seattle Children's and was excited to do a primary care rural rotation in the Yakima Valley; prior to that he'd always worked in more urban settings.

"I knew that working in a rural setting would certainly challenge me because I never did it before," he said.

He spent about six weeks in Yakima and two weeks in Toppenish and found he loved that aspect of the rotation.

"I really liked the diversity and certainly the people. I always had this passion for primary care and continuity," he said. "I think because I had no expectations, I was open to falling in love with it. And I was very lucky that Yakima Pediatrics recruited me."

Although he enjoys working with all age groups, it's his work with adolescents that particularly stands out.

"They're at a stage where they're looking for good information and possible role models they can trust for guidance and counseling," he said.

Ten months after arriving in the Valley, Asante helped set up a teen health clinic.

"We've been working to try to better serve adolescents," Asante said.

Last year, he helped open a health clinic at Davis High School, and he continues working to expand that as well.

He's also a huge supporter for LGBTQ services, creating safe spaces, providing holistic contraceptive information and educating adolescents on issues related to teen pregnancy and mental health.

"It's something we as a community and I am very proud of," he said. "I am very lucky that I came to a place like Yakima Pediatrics and Yakima itself."