Meet the Scholars
Haider S. Ghiasuddin - 2023
Haider graduated with an undergraduate degree in English and Chemistry from Dartmouth. At Dartmouth he developed a passion for creative writing and chemistry lab work and research. His creative writing honors thesis in fiction was a recipient of the Sidney Cox Memorial Prize, and he was also awarded a Dean's Fellowship from Harvard for graduate study in Muslim and South Asian literature and history, which he pursued directly after college.
As Haider began translating his humanities education into community and volunteer work in the Greater Boston area, time spent with those facing serious illnesses and inequalities drew him back to science and medicine. Upon completing his Master's program at Harvard, he first worked as a medical scribe in primary care before working as a research technician in a Hematology-Oncology lab at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston for close to two years. During his time at Beth Israel he gained translational research experience in immunotherapy-based vaccine trials for patients with multiple myeloma and acute myeloid leukemia. More specifically, Haider took the lead in the chemical (IHC) characterization of tumors and experimental vaccines for patients enrolled in these trials in Boston and across the country, while also assisting in experimental vaccine manufacturing.
Haider is incredibly excited to join UHS, as it is his desire to help contribute to improving the practice of and access of medicine for those who are most disadvantaged and marginalized in diverse environments, and to constantly better educate himself along the way. He also hopes to continue to channel his passions for creative writing and chemistry in trying to imagine something better.
Romina Almada Gossweiler - 2023
Romina was born in Asunción, Paraguay and lived in Montevideo, Uruguay before moving to the United States at the age of nine. She attended NYU for college where she majored in Neural Science and interned at the Immigrant Health and Cancer Disparities Service of Memorial Sloan Kettering. After college, she completed a masters in medical physiology at Loyola University Chicago and volunteered as a medical translator. She is very interested in immigrant health and envisions working alongside immigrant communities in the future as a physician.
Jasmine A. Panton - 2023
I was born and raised in Stuart, Florida, a small beach town in the southeastern part of the state. I graduated from Harvard College in 2015 after studying History and Literature. Immediately after, I earned a Master’s degree in Bioethics from Harvard Medical School, in the inaugural class. As a Master’s student, I engaged in community outreach in Boston, interviewing locals about their relationships with health and the healthcare system. This work intimated that mobiletech could and should be leveraged to connect underserved populations to healthcare providers. Most recently, I worked as a Clinical Associate at a primary care-focused, telehealth startup based in New York City. My management of our efforts to become accredited with the National Committee for Quality Assurance as a Patient-Centered Medical Home made me particularly interested in applying lessons from advanced primary care to community outreach as a Geisel student and Urban Health Scholar. My current research interests include telehealth, maternal health, advanced primary care models, health inequity, and qualitative, narrative-based research methods such as photovoice. I am so excited to continue exploring community-oriented, servicebased learning as a member of the Urban Health Scholars.
Paolo Ramirez - 2023
Paolo was born and raised in Pasadena in Los Angeles County. He attended undergraduate at DePaul University in the heart of Chicago, where he majored in Neuroscience and completed research in peptide based chemistry. Paolo also had the opportunity to minor in Community Service Studies. In his Community Service Studies program, he worked with local nonprofit homeless shelters and arts programs while learning about nonprofit management. These experiences exposed him to the variety of healthcare issues that affect urban and disadvantaged communities. Paolo also had the opportunity to complete medical volunteering abroad in Nicaragua with DePaul University. Following undergrad, he became an Emergency Medical Technician in Los Angeles while working as a barista at a coffee shop. Paolo hopes to learn how medical professionals continually work towards addressing issues in their own community and enact change through UHS.
Katherine F. Quarles Stephens - 2023
Born in New York City and raised in Montana, I returned to the east to study philosophy at Smith College. While in school I ran cross country and track, did research in a biochemistry lab, and volunteered as a middle school track coach. After graduating I worked as an EMT in Boston, seeing disparities in healthcare up close and feeling frustrated at my inability to change them. Urban health appealed to me in its approach to tackling determinants of health beyond the usual scope of medical practice. When not thinking about how to destroy systems of inequity, I enjoy running, climbing, skiing, and fermenting foods.
Isabelle C. Tersio - 2023
Isabelle was born in Port-au-Prince, Haïti and grew up in Boca Raton, Florida. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2018, where she majored in neuroscience. Isabelle devoted most of her free time during undergrad to teaching young students self-expression and dance, as well as working as a farm intern in West Philadelphia. She went on to spend her year after graduation teaching gardening, cooking, and nutrition at a charter school in Washington, D.C. Through these opportunities and her own experience, Isabelle is passionate about using an interdisciplinary approach to address barriers to health faced by underserved communities. She is excited to be a member of Urban Health Scholars, where she is confident she will be able to cultivate a deeper understanding of the social determinants of health in an urban setting and how to organize change from the ground-up. Isabelle aspires to start effecting these changes through the youth!
Sean M. Turner - 2023
Sean was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. Following high school, he served in the Army from 2002-2013 which entailed a mix of active duty and guard time including deployments to Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. In 2013 he switched to and is still serving in the Air Force as a TACP. During this time period he also worked as a firefighter and/or paramedic in Cincinnati and Indianapolis. He graduated from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis in 2018. Outside of Geisel Sean enjoys spending time with his daughter Frankie, playing hockey, and enjoying the wilderness of the Upper Valley.
Irene V. Vargas - 2023
Irene was born in Trujillo, Peru. When she was 10 years old, she immigrated with her family to Miami, Florida. She began her undergraduate studies at the Honors Program in Miami Dade College and consequently transferred to Johns Hopkins University. She graduated with a degree in Biology in 2016. After having experienced the challenges that many immigrants face, she became extensively involved with the immigrant and undeserved communities in Baltimore. During her time at Hopkins, she was also a volunteer and program fellow with Health Leads, a non-profit organization that helps connect low-income patients and families with local resources in the community. Here, she realized the importance of addressing the social determinants of health and the impact of being an advocate for patients. Irene is very excited to be an Urban Health Scholar because it offers the opportunity to continue learning about the challenges that urban underserved populations face. She hopes to gain the skills necessary to be a catalyst of change in order to improve patient health while reducing inequalities. Outside of Geisel, she enjoys painting, reading, spending time with friends and exploring the Upper Valley.
Syed Rakin Ahmed - 2022
Despite being born and raised in an extremely low-income family in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Rakin never allowed his financial underprivilege to serve as a mitigatory factor to his passions. During his undergraduate years at Dartmouth where he studied on full financial aid, he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi, majoring with High Honors in Biomedical Engineering (BME) and double-minoring in Economics and Applied Mathematics as a member of the Class of 2018. He also involved himself extensively in research, debating and in the service of people. As part of his research, he attained all possible competitive research grants he was eligible for at Dartmouth and lead-authored a paper published in the Journal of Biomedical Optics. His passion for research led him to pursuing a dual MD-PhD, with the PhD in the uniquely interdepartmental Biophysics program at Harvard, to which he was accepted, in addition to being accepted to Geisel through the competitive BME Early Assurance program from Thayer School. During his undergraduate years, outside of extensive shadowing and oncology research, Rakin assisted in hospitals and rehabilitation centers in Dhaka, Barisal and in Hanover. Extensive involvement in debating over the years led him to represent Team Bangladesh at the World Schools Debating Championship 2013, in Turkey and 2014, in Thailand, and Dartmouth at the World Universities Debating Championship 2016, in Greece. In addition, his desire for a deep involvement with religious life and the intersection of identity, race, faith and social justice was manifested through his frequent participation in inter-faith and social justice centered activities and his leadership of an alternative spring trip directed at investigating these issues at Dartmouth. The opportunity of being able to bring healthcare and technology to marginalized and medically underserved individuals is one he certainly aspires to realize, in the long-run.
Caroline D. Andrew - 2022
Caroline grew up in Burlington, Vermont. For undergraduate, she attended Boston College where she majored in nursing. While in Boston, she worked as a nursing assistant on an acute locked psychiatric floor at the VA. She also worked as a nursing assistant at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center on an inpatient Oncology unit. After college, Caroline became an intensive care unit registered nurse at NYU Langone Medical Center. During her time at NYU Langone Medical Center (NYULMC), she became part of the Ebola team; this was a group of four ICU nurses who would care for any potential Ebola patients admitted to NYULMC. She also attended New York University Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program prior to transitioning to the pre-medical track. While in New York City, Caroline volunteered on an urban farm as well as taught free nutrition/cooking classes at a local food pantry. Caroline is excited to be a part of Urban Health Scholars because she is committed to learning how medical care is delivered in urban communities and she hopes to practice medicine in an urban setting in the future.
Bita Behrouzi - 2022
Bita has spent part of the past 23 years moving around the world: being born in Toronto (Canada) and spending around 5 years of her childhood there, her teenage years in Tehran (Iran), completing her undergraduate degree in biophysics back at the University of Toronto, and finally studying medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth (U.S.). During her postsecondary studies, she has been involved in quantitative medical imaging and machine learning studies. Outside of research, she has pursued her passion for enhancing diversity and reducing healthcare disparities in eclectic ways such as raising awareness and advancing research of Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases, developing healthy Middle Eastern recipes, addressing myths and stigmas about cancer, and mentoring disadvantaged undergraduate students applying to medical schools. As a co-director of Urban Health Scholars, she aspires to learn how to be a catalyst for positive change within urban underserved communities.
Falen Demsas - 2022
Falen originally hails from beautiful Asmara, Eritrea, a country coasting the Red Sea in Northeast Africa. She moved to the U.S. when she was about 10 years old, bounced around a bit before landing in Los Angeles California. Since graduating from Boston College, she has worked in primarily in education and the non-profit sector. She was a high school science teacher at both public charters and public high schools which has lent a great deal to her personal and professional growth. Most notably, she spent three years teaching high school Biology, Chemistry, and Earth Science at Lifeline Education Charter School in Compton, California. Much of what she is proud of is combating the significant lack of resources by building sustainable partnerships with community organizations and universities who would expand her students' educational experience. She was able to pilot a summer research pipeline program through which two students at LECS would conduct summer research with a mentor at the University of Southern California. Half a dozen of her former students have since pursued careers in science at various state institutions in California. She has received awards for her teaching and leadership both in California and Washington D.C.
Falen also spent her gap years working at non-profit, federally qualified health center- Mary's Center-in Washington DC as a health educator and clinical health coordinator. This work was rewarding as the patient populations varied from young kindergarteners to 90-year old "seasoned citizens"- one of her favorites being "Ms. Mattie". Ask her about Ms. Mattie next time.
Falen also obtained a Masters in Medical Science from Loyola University Chicago in May of 2017 prior to applying to medical school. At Geisel, she is currently a member of Allies of Women in Medicine, Association of Women Surgeons, the Student National Medical Association. Additionally, she is a member of the Student Government at Geisel, specifically the Medical Education Committee. She chose to join UHS because she wanted to remain connected to the community she aspires to serve in her future.
Arati Gangadharan - 2022
Arati Gangadharan is a first-year medical student at the Geisel School of Medicine who hails from Northville, Michigan. She graduated from Dartmouth College in 2018 with honors in neuroscience and a minor concentration in public policy. Much of her undergraduate education was devoted to the interdisciplinary examination of healthcare, public policy, and communal initiatives designed to address social determinants of health. Urban Health Scholars has allowed her to continue this exploration and expand her understanding of the future role she can have in urban settings as a physician and as a member of the community. She looks forward to her role as co-director of Urban Health Scholars and is excited about all that is to come. At Geisel, she is involved in research on traumatic brain injury and is also a Schweitzer Fellow, working with a fellow classmate to create a stroke awareness program that targets at-risk communities in the Upper Valley.
Angie Lee - 2022
Angie graduated from Dartmouth College with a Spanish degree. She spent her year after college working as a pediatrics research assistant in New York looking at ways to promote breastfeeding in underserved communities of Long Island. She is passionate about dance and community organizing. In her future, she would love to create strong communities for youth in an urban setting to help realize their full potentials.
Isabelle Yang - 2022
Isabelle was born in Taipei, and moved to Toronto with her family at the age of 7 where she grew up. She studied Chemistry and Physics at Harvard College but found a greater passion for community engagement and public service. She dedicated the majority of her time in college as a founding student and staff member of Y2Y Harvard Square, a non-profit organization in Cambridge, MA that provides shelter and case management services to homeless young adults ages 18-24. Isabelle played a key role in designing shelter's programs, policies, and database systems, and is excited bring her passion and skills to improve healthcare systems for vulnerable urban patient communities.
Shuaibu Ali - 2021
Jay Bader - 2021
Jay grew up in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and graduated from MIT in June 2017 with a B.S. Chemistry, B.S. Biology, and minors in Political Science and Biomedical Engineering. After experiencing racial and speech-related bullying in high school, Jay committed much of his time to volunteering. After working with Special Olympics Track and Field athletes in high school, Jay felt an especially strong desire to help those who were misunderstood and in tough situations. As an undergraduate, he started volunteering with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, where he mentored a 13-year-old boy and continues to mentor him during medical school. He also joined the Lean On Me anonymous texting program at MIT. If any MIT student was feeling stressed or overwhelmed, they could text Jay's phone number anonymously and have someone to talk to. His role was to lend an ear to stressed-out MIT students and to help them get through the stresses of college. Having texted students with high-functioning autism to eating disorders to emotionally-abusive parents, Jay gained a new outlook and a better understanding of the difficulties faced by people experiencing depression, stress, and mental illness.
Jay is extremely excited for UHS, because it gives him an opportunity to directly help people who are underserved and who may feel misunderstood by the public and the medical community - the disabled, LGTBQ community, inner city neighborhoods, the elderly, and the homeless. Jay hopes to use his experiences with UHS to help him better understand and advocate for the issues faced by these communities. He believes that educating physicians about these issues is vital to developing trust between patients and doctors, and one of his ultimate goals is to enact policy changes that address US health care disparities and allow for more affordable, easier access to quality health care for all people. Jay is also a representative in Geisel's Student Government where one of his main focuses is on the emotional and mental health of the medical students. On a side note, Jay enjoys singing with the Dermatones as well as playing many sports including hockey, flag football, golf, badminton, and especially billiards.
Laura J. Cheng - 2021
Laura grew up in Troy, Michigan. As a second-generation Chinese-American, she learned to speak English and Mandarin starting from a young age. For high school, she attended the International Academy in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan before moving to Cambridge, Massachusetts to attend Harvard University. Laura graduated from Harvard in 2015, majoring in Neurobiology and minoring in Global Health & Health Policy. During college, she completed an honors thesis at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Shanghai Mental Health Center, which examined differences in the default mode network between healthy controls and youth at risk for schizophrenia in a Chinese population. Outside of research, Laura has been involved in multiple volunteer activities in the Boston area. Throughout college, she tutored GED/HiSet test preparation weekly at the South Bay House of Corrections, a medium-security prison, and volunteered with Health Leads, where she helped connect low-income patients with social resources in the community in attempt to address the social determinants of health. Following graduation, Laura worked for two years as a Research Coordinator at the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women's Mental Health while continuing to work with incarcerated populations as a tutor and health educator. As a physician, she plans to work with urban underserved communities, including incarcerated and immigrant communities, to help reduce existing health disparities.
Roberto C. De La Rosa - 2021
Roberto was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago and is a graduate of Brown University with a degree in Biomedical Engineering. As an undergraduate, he pursued his interests in biomedical research and engaged in the community to learn about and help alleviate disparities in healthcare settings. At the Rhode Island Free Clinic, he served as a Spanish medical interpreter and volunteer to help break language barriers and provide access to healthcare for the Providence community. He also served as a Health Leads advocate and fellow to help Rhode Island Hospital clinic and ED patients navigate through resources in the community to help address socioeconomic difficulties influencing their health. These experiences solidified the importance of addressing the social determinants of health to help address disparities in underserved urban communities. After graduating, he worked for Procured Health as a medical device analyst to help leverage clinical evidence to inform hospitals on the clinical effectiveness of medical devices across the market. As a medical student, in addition to pursuing his interests in biomedical engineering and medical devices, Roberto is interested in further educating himself on health disparities in urban environments and how he as a future physician can prepare himself to effectively address these issues throughout his career. He is excited to be a part of the Urban Health Scholars program to foster this development through service and engagement with the peers, patients, and the medical community dedicated to addressing these issues.
Jacqueline E. Gresham - 2021
Sandra G. Mastrangelo - 2021
Sand was raised in White Plains, New York and graduated from Brown University with a degree in Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences. In 2010, Sand received an Undergraduate Teaching and Research Award in the Department of Public Health to study recruitment approaches for under-resourced, marginalized populations and the role of social networks in healthcare decisions and patient psychology. A four-year student-athlete, she partnered with Pat Griffin and the Gay and Lesbian Sports Education Network to mandate diversity training for National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) athletes and coaches to increase awareness of issues affecting sexual and gender minorities. Following graduation, she taught 9th grade English and bilingual education as a Teach For America corps member in Denver, Colorado. While teaching, Sand participated in the Teaching as Leadership and Education 4 Justice Fellowships where she coached incoming cohorts of TFA corps members to build their pedagogies upon critical race theories and cultivate student-centered, multicultural classrooms. This experience led her to San Francisco to work in educational technology and social justice pedagogy. Sand is a certified Emergency Medical Technician and worked as an Emergency Department Medical Scribe at Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center in New York City prior to completing the postbaccalaureate premedical program at Bryn Mawr College. Sand is excited to be a member of Urban Health Scholars because she is committed to understanding the sociocultural factors that impact health outcomes of urban medically underserved populations and aspires to pursue clinical opportunities in urban health and trauma-informed care.
Kenneth Williams - 2021
My name is Kenny Williams and I'm from Albany, NY. After graduating High School I attended Union College in Schenectady, NY where I majored in Neuroscience. During my time in college I became increasingly interested in education and education policy so upon graduation I joined Teach for America. I began teaching middle school math and science on the west side of Chicago and quickly fell in love with the students and community. I also pursued a graduate degree in education at Dominican University in IL. After several years, I decided to leave the classroom and pursue my interest in medicine. I completed a Post-Baccalaureate program at Loyola University in Chicago which helped me to re-engage with my science courses and prepare for medical school. I am excited to be a part of the Urban Health Scholars program as I plan to work in communities similar to those I taught in. I am also deeply interested in and passionate about the interplay between health and education.
Vivian Bhushan - 2020
Vivian was born and raised in Queens, New York. Having come from very humble beginnings, Vivian was aware of health disparities and socioeconomic-related issues early on. Her early experiences inspired and motivated her to go into medicine to help serve others in unfortunate positions. She graduated from St. John's University with both a bachelor's and master's degrees in Chemistry. In 2014, she became involved with a non-profit organization called Mentoring in Medicine (MIM), which provides many opportunities for underrepresented students who are interested in pursuing a career in the health professions. Vivian started off as a volunteer in their Emergency Department Clinical Exposure and Mentorship Program. Her time volunteering at Montefiore Medical Center gave her the chance to engage with patients and witness the daily practice of ER physicians in an overcrowded ED. She was able to interact with patients who were struggling with chronic ailments and/or language barriers. Having worked through a disadvantaged background with immigrant parents herself, she empathized and developed a strong desire to help those in need. She then got involved with MIM in another capacity, community outreach and raising awareness of health disparities in the Bronx. She assisted with organizing fitness festivals in the community and other events that promoted preventive medicine through daily lifestyle changes. Most recently, she taught Biology to Bronx high school students as part of an in-school program, introducing various health professions, and performing relevant demonstrations in academic settings. Vivian is passionate about community outreach and has goals of creating a life-long mentorship program targeted at minority youth. A self-described fitness junkie, Vivian is always looking for healthy ways to take her body to the next level. Lifting weights, or riding her bike through each of the five boroughs are some of the things she enjoys doing in her spare time. Vivian is excited to become a part of the Urban Health Scholars and is confident that she will be able to integrate her training at Geisel, her passion for teaching and mentoring, and her communication skills to maximize health care delivery and raise awareness in urban, underserved populations.
Frederick Burton - 2020
Frederick was raised in Macon, Georgia. He graduated from the University of Rochester with a dual degree in Neuroscience and Psychology. During his time as an undergraduate, he held many executive positions in organizations including the Minority Association for Pre-Medical Students (MAPS). This organization is dedicated to connecting students historically underrepresented in health professional fields to reach their career goals through mentoring, community engagement, service, and professional development workshops. Serving on MAPS' executive board for three years, attending the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program at Duke University, and volunteering in the Emergency Department through the University of Rochester's "Friends of Strong" program has undoubtedly broadened Frederick's understanding of medicine and has fueled his aspiration to become a doctor. Frederick firmly believes in the importance of mentorship. This belief led to his involvement in co-founding the Minority Male Leadership Association (MMLA) and serving as programming manager to tackle educational and socio-economic disparities amongst minority men in the Rochester community. Through tutoring, professional development workshops, and mentorship at local high schools, MMLA continues to improve the graduation rates among minority males within the Rochester community. Post graduation, Frederick matriculated into the Medical/Dental Education Preparatory Program (MEDPREP) at Southern Illinois University to maximize his medical school profile. This program helped him to hone his test-taking skills, prepared him for the MCAT, and also challenged him with upper-level science enrichment courses and research opportunities. Outside of academics, Frederick enjoys listening to music, playing tennis and soccer, and reading. Frederick looks forward to being a part of the UHS team and hopes to apply the knowledge and experience he's gained through MAPS, SMDEP, MMLA, and MEDPREP to foster an environment that empowers underserved communities by providing them with resources to tackle multifaceted issues at every level of the socio-ecological model.
Cynthia Chan - 2020
Diana Funk - 2020
Diana hails from the small town of Perkasie, Pennsylvania. Born at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, she returned to Penn for college, receiving a degree from Wharton in Economics with a concentration in Healthcare Policy in 2010. At Penn she was involved in community service throughout West Philadelphia and taught business essentials to high school students. After graduation she moved to the golden state of California to work for Google in People Operations and communications. While in San Francisco she worked with the WATCH Clinic, teaching nutrition to at-risk children and their families. She also worked with the city of San Francisco to design an application for affordable housing using user-centered design. After completing a post-bacc program at UC Berkeley, she came to Geisel where she hopes to learn more about the challenges that urban populations face -- be it healthcare, nutrition, education, access, or inequality, and discover new ways to address those problems through service and policy.
Chad Lewis - 2020
Chad originally hails from San Francisco, CA. Shortly after graduating from high school, he enlisted in the Marine Corps a few weeks after the attacks on Sept. 11th, 2001 and eventually earned the rank of Sergeant. While serving, Chad completed a combat tour with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) in Iraq's infamous "Triangle of Death" from 2004 to 2005, and was also awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal by the Department of Defense for providing relief to the victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, LA.
After returning home, Chad completed his B.S. at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and left the Marines in 2007 to work as a field engineer in the homeland security and telecommunications industries for a number of years. Most recently before matriculating at Geisel, he worked under the 17th Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Richard H. Carmona while conducting public health research and managing multiple health promotion programs in low-income communities across the country. While there, he concurrently completed his Master of Public Health at The George Washington University in the spring of 2016, and was a recipient of the Andrew F. Pleasant Scholarship for Advanced Studies in Health Literacy and Prevention.
Chad is currently a member of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA)'s National Board of Directors and is a Co-Chair of SNMA's External Affairs Committee. His long-term career goals are to practice medicine in urban underserved communities while being a leader in the fields of public health, veterans' health, and youth development.
Lucas Mayer - 2020
Luke Mayer grew up in rural Hartland Vermont, just 10 miles south of Hanover along the Connecticut River. Luke went to Hartford High School before shipping off to Los Angeles to play baseball at Claremont McKenna College. After graduating, Luke spent a year in a cancer immunology lab at the University of Connecticut before transitioning to research the clinical implications of baseball pitcher biomechanics for the orthopedics department at Massachusetts General Hospital. During this time, Luke also developed and directed an academic biotechnology-focused summer camp for the National Student Leadership Conference. This experience, as well as growing up in a family full of teachers, has helped Luke understand the extent to which mentorship can alter the trajectory of a student's path. With that in mind, Luke hopes to create an academic mentorship program that provides students from undereducated communities with the vision of a path to a STEM career. With his own career plans ultimately taking him to an urban environment, Luke seeks to prepare himself to serve that community through working to better understand the challenges unique to the urban context.
Jacob Perlson - 2020
Jacob is a Chicago native and graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He graduated in 2015 with a degree in Biology and minor in Global Health. During his junior year at UW, Jacob organized a semester of fieldwork in the cone of South America where he found himself in such settings as a volunteer in a Patagonian national park to a community health worker in Buenos Aires. This latter experience, combined with his senior year involvement with an LGBTQ healthcare advocacy organization, piqued his interest in HIV/AIDS services and healthcare in medically underserved communities. Jacob then served as an AmeriCorps member in the HIV program of a Federally Qualified Health Center in Chicago in the year following his graduation. The experience of providing health education, program support, and HIV testing services all helped solidify Jacob's commitment to joining the fight for health equity, especially for people living with or vulnerable to HIV. Through his time at Erie Family Health Center, Jacob came to understand that HIV does not exist in a vacuum, but rather at the intersection of many other co-occurring social and medical issues ranging from substance misuse to unequal access to healthcare. This desire to understand "epidemics" in all in their interdisciplinary nuance helped motivate Jacob's decision to focus on urban health while at Geisel. As an Urban Health Scholar, Jacob hopes to better understand the forces that shape health disparities through direct service and learning alongside a group of peers equally committed to positive change in urban underserved areas.
Sima Sadeghinejad - 2020
Sima grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from UCLA in 2005 with degrees in neuroscience and physiological science. Her two passions in life are helping improve therapeutic options available to patients and helping underserved populations access better health care. To realize these goals, she has volunteered as a research assistant at UCLA's Brain Mapping Center since 2002. In her studies of neurophysiology and pathology, she employed the non-invasive neurostimulation technique transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). She utilized TMS to study novel treatments for a variety of neurological disorders, such as epilepsy and dystonia, with promising results. She also enjoyed volunteering at a local Emergency Room where she provided patient support and advocacy. In addition to her volunteer work, she worked full-time managing a business in downtown Los Angeles selling ladies fashion footwear since 2006. She also founded and managed the business's online presence, which more than doubled yearly revenues. She hopes to bring the values of teamwork and innovation to her medical career. As an Urban Health Scholar, she aspires to learn how to best use available resources to mitigate the socioeconomic and environmental pressures that affect the health of urban populations. Growing up as an immigrant from a humble background, Sima saw first-hand the healthcare difficulties underprivileged people face. Her experience with limited resources allows her to appreciate the unique hardships endured by low-income and minority communities. Sima's ultimate goal as a physician is to use her experiences and insight to help provide better access to care to underserved communities in Los Angeles.
Trenika Williams - 2020
Aaron Briggs - 2019
Aaron hails from the sandy, windswept shores of San Diego, California. While Aaron was privileged enough to grow up in a quiet suburb much of his extended family lives in poverty in Northern Philadelphia. Seeing his family struggle beneath the crippling disparities that permeate underserved urban communities inspired Aaron to use his privileged, educated upbringing to help those who were not as fortunate as himself. Throughout high school and his undergraduate study at Dartmouth Aaron worked extensively with underserved populations - focusing specifically on supporting the homeless, as well as victims of domestic violence and abuse. Aaron graduated from Dartmouth College in 2015 with a degree in Biology and began his first year at Geisel shortly after. While Aaron entered medical school with the intention of practicing within underserved urban areas he was unsure of the capacity in which he may best serve these communities. Aaron joined the Urban Health Scholars to gain an understanding of the unique medical challenges facing underserved communities in order to better prepare himself for a career in which he might work to meet them.
Alec Fisher - 2019
Alec was born and raised in Los Angeles and almost became a professional surfer - decided to study physics at Johns Hopkins instead. At Hopkins I became interested in Neuroscience, majored in it and changed life trajectory to go to medical school. Before applying to medical school I wanted to get real life experiences and work with helping others so I went into Teach for America in Los Angeles specifically teaching in Watts at Locke High School. I taught physics for two years and raised engagement in sciences with hands on labs and after school science discovery clubs. Teaching at Locke exposed me to the disparities across socioeconomic boundaries which has led me to want to work with underserved populations. What excited me to go to Dartmouth Medical School so I could be part of the Urban Health Scholars group and get access to underserved populations while in a rural environment. The pipeline dream is to become a neurosurgeon and work to care for underserved populations in my hometown of Los Angeles, providing opportunities to care on a volunteer basis and work with local schools to increase interest in medical sciences and build mentorship programs for underprivileged high school students interested in medical sciences.
Sarah Ghabbour - 2019
Sarah was born and raised in Arlington, MA, a Boston suburb. She graduated from Boston University in 2015 with a major in health science and minor in business administration. During her time at BU, she got involved with Health Leads, a non-profit that helps connect patients and families to local non-medical recourses that impact their health and well-being. It was through Health Leads that Sarah volunteered at both Boston Medical Center and Dimock Community Health Center in Roxbury but it was though the community health center that she really saw how a community integrated approach could combat the social determinants of health. Afterwards she interned at the Brigham and Women's Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center where she had two roles: coordinating care on an interdisciplinary team for high-risk patients and helping out with the center's NCQA application to get certified as a patient centered medical home. As an Urban Health Scholar, Sarah hopes to continue to stay involved in and learn more about the needs of urban communities, so that she can ultimately advocate for and implement changes that will better her patients' overall health and wellness. Outside of Geisel, she enjoys skating on Dartmouth's figure skating team, playing soccer, and spending time with family.
Courtney Hanlon - 2019
Courtney was raised in Fullerton, California. She graduated from Amherst College in 2011 with a degree in English. After her undergraduate work, she lived in Salzburg, Austria where she played for the city's professional team within the Elite Women's Hockey League. She then spent two years in Boston, working to coordinate clinical trials for patients with multiple myeloma. Her most rewarding work in Boston was in helping to improve access to care by securing oncology therapies for patients who could not otherwise afford treatment. She received her Masters in Pharmaceutical Development with an emphasis in biologics manufacture and in-vitro diagnostics from the Keck Graduate Institute in Claremont, CA. There she worked as a peer health advocate, providing health and wellness counseling for undergraduate students within Los Angeles County. Through her work she learned the importance of educational programs in forming students' health behaviors; she co-developed risk mitigation programming for students to promote positive mental, physical, and sexual health behaviors. Through the Urban Health Scholars program, Courtney aims to learn new strategies and care models to best serve urban populations--after graduation she hopes to return to Los Angeles to address challenges of care access and health literacy through community-based initiatives. Outside the classroom, Courtney is a volunteer assistant coach for the Hanover High School girls hockey team and enjoys exploring the greater NH/VT area.
TR Harris - 2019
Tim was born and raised in Portland, OR, Tim studied social science at the University of Washington. Making the most of his time there, yet having no clue on a career path, Tim joined Teach For America, and taught chemistry and AP Chemistry in inner city Detroit. It was there where Tim found his passion for critical consciousness and social justice. What started out as a two-year stint evolved into 5 years, where Tim took on leadership and administrative roles in Detroit's education, fostering the development of more than 5,000 students city-wide. While in the classroom, Tim saw gross inequalities, rooted in two concepts. First, there were a lack of resources that severely impeded access to an education, to healthcare, proper nutrition and many other basic human rights. Second, this inequality was systemic, running along lines of race, class and privilege. This committed Tim to seeking an opportunity to not only provide resources and treatment, but also help the most disadvantaged populations advocate for themselves. That is how Tim found medicine, a profession beyond simply providing treatment, but helping patients and the most disadvantaged populations advocate for their own health. So he took classes, volunteered in emergency rooms and is now reflecting on opportunities to serve inner-city populations after medical school.
Spencer Mcfarlane - 2019
Spencer was raised in Queens, New York and then Baton Rouge, Louisiana, going on to graduate from The Ohio State University with a degree in Biology. He has been interested in urban health since his family opened up a medical practice (primary care) in Gonzales, Louisiana, an underserved city. From childhood to the present day, he came across many instances of disparity between where his family lived as opposed to the less socioeconomically advantaged community the clinic served. With the rationale that, through law and policy, he could address these and other societal components of health, and also to explore other interests, he attended and graduated from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law, concentrating on the human rights and health policy side of the law. He spent time volunteering on an HIV/AIDS health education project in Thailand and Vietnam at a Southeast Asian human rights NGO and subsequently worked as an associate at a bioethics public affairs organization. After realizing that practicing medicine was a career that would be the most fulfilling for him, he decided that he would do both -- practice medicine and serve as an advocate. As an Urban Health Scholar, I would like to create a space where I can work with my colleagues toward my goal of combining these two disciplines. Ultimately, I would like to continue exploring some of the ever-present socioeconomic disparities in America's urban society and also investigate the ways that law and policy may raise the quality of health and life of underserved populations.
Brendin Beaulieu-Jones - 2018
Brendin grew up in Vernon, Connecticut. He graduated from Dartmouth College, with a degree in Biology (Genetics) and a minor in Applied Ethics. As an undergraduate, he worked in a computational genetics lab and completed a senior thesis investigating the associations between diet, genetics and metabolic syndrome in a cohort of Alaskan Natives. This work underscored the importance of considering lifestyle factors and the role of environment in investigating disease-related outcomes. After graduation, he completed a Health Policy Fellowship at The Dartmouth Institute, where he supported the implementation and analysis of the National Survey of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), as well as the evaluation of patient reported outcomes measurement. Brendin is interested in examining how innovate payment systems (e.g., global payment) will impact the care of vulnerable populations in urban communities, and how support for other contributors of health is integrated into the traditional spheres of healthcare. He is also passionate about learning how to achieve better population health through community-based initiatives (e.g., smoking cessation programs, substance abuse support services, HIV education and screening, healthy eating and exercise programs, etc.). Outside of the classroom, Brendin is a volunteer assistant coach for the Dartmouth Track and Field team, and he also enjoys skiing, hiking and exploring the Upper Valley.
Chinwe Echeazu - 2018
Chinwe was born and raised in Chicago, IL. Growing up on the south side of Chicago, Chinwe saw first had many of the challenges and disparities faced by its residents everyday. She also worked as a Pharmacy Technician for CVS Pharmacy in various locations throughout the city, and saw the vast gap between the privileged, the poor, and those in between when it came to health care access, quality, and delivery. These experiences amplified Chinwe's pursuit of not only becoming a physician, but also an advocate for those in need. She graduated from University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in 2012 where she obtained her bachelors degree in Community Health, specializing in Health Planning and Administration. After graduating, she moved further south in Illinois to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale where she completed the MEDPREP program and obtained her Master in Public Health specializing in Health Education. Here, Chinwe was deeply involved in efforts on campus to decrease unwanted pregnancies and STI contraction among high risk students. She also traveled to Naranjito, Honduras during January 2013 to participate in a medical brigade that brought medical services to a small town that would otherwise completely lack access to health care. Chinwe is very passionate about the promotion of healthy behaviors, both mental and physical, and is confident in the experiences, knowledge, and networking that she will gain from the Urban Health Scholars.
Andrea Jaresova - 2018
Andrea is a Czech native who spent most of her childhood growing up in New York City. She earned her Bachelor's Degree from Dartmouth College in 2012, with a major in Women's and Gender Studies and two minors in French and Biology. As an undergraduate, Andrea was involved in numerous sexual assault prevention and awareness initiatives, serving as co-director of Mentors Against Violence as well as being a member of the Student Presidential Committee on Sexual Assault. Andrea also volunteered in her community at WISE of the Upper Valley, a domestic and sexual abuse crisis center in Lebanon, NH. Prior to attending the Geisel School of Medicine in 2014, Andrea spent two years working as a special education teacher in a Title I public high school in New York City and earned her masters degree in special education from Hunter College. Her experiences in both her undergraduate and graduate life have helped her cultivate a strong passion for working to empower underserved communities: first, by working to bridge the disparities gap in healthcare, and second, by creating initiatives in which the education system and the healthcare system collaborate together to ensure that a child's potential for success is not hindered by his or her inability to access quick, reliable and confidential health services.
T.J. Meehan - 2018
T.J. was born and raised in central Connecticut in a suburb of Hartford. He graduated from Colby College in 2012 where he majored in Science, Technology & Society. During each summer of his undergraduate years, T.J. worked as a Research Assistant at Qualidigm, a consulting and research firm focused on quality improvement and cost-effectiveness of health care. It was through this organization that he learned that the care received by minority patients in his home-state is suboptimal and that disparities exist in access, use, and patient experience of care. Following college, T.J. continued working for Qualidigm on two research projects: one that measured the impact of EHRs on quality of care, and another focused on reducing hospital readmission rates. After a year with Qualidigm, T.J. joined the Community HealthCorps, a Connecticut-based AmeriCorps program that allowed him to serve as a Health Navigator and Quality Improvement Project Manager at Community Health Center Inc., a multi-site FQHC. Some of the most rewarding experiences that he had as an AmeriCorps member included: spending time at a veteran's home talking to patients about affordable oral care services; going door-to-door in low-income neighborhoods talking to residents about the Affordable Care Act and what it meant to them; meeting with low English proficiency immigrants to assist them in enrolling in health insurance plans; and providing free HIV/AIDs screening tests at a homeless shelter. At Geisel, T.J. hopes to find his niche at the intersection of urban health and community development. T.J. enjoys playing and coaching basketball and spending time with friends and family.
Dwan Pineros - 2018
Dwan was born in Bogota, Colombia and immigrated to the United States with his family when he was 8 years old. He graduated from Boston College where he majored in economics. Dwan then worked for a technology consulting firm on merger integration projects for clients in the biotechnology and technology services sectors. Although he enjoyed many aspects of consulting work, it was lacking in one key respect. Dwan longed for work that satisfied his humanitarian impulses. After he resigned from his position, he spent a summer volunteering at the inpatient pediatric unit at the Boston Medical Center. It was during this volunteer experience that he was inspired to pursue a career in medicine and, in particular, to work with immigrant and urban underserved populations. He completed the medical school prerequisites at the Harvard Extension School and concurrently volunteered with The Family Van, a mobile health unit that provides free health screenings and health counseling to members of the inner city communities of Boston. Dwan also worked as a research assistant at the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Brigham and Women's Hospital on basic science and clinical research projects. His interests in medicine mirror his pre-medical experiences. He is interested in pediatrics, primary care, and addressing healthcare disparities. As an Urban Health Scholar, Dwan hopes to continue to cultivate his interest for urban health and to share his knowledge and passion for urban health with his fellow scholars as well as the greater Dartmouth community. In his spare time, Dwan enjoys outdoor activities and spending time with friends and family.
Fernando Vazquez - 2018
Cristina Alcorta - 2017
Cristina grew up in northern New Jersey, right across the Hudson River from New York City. She graduated from Harvard University in 2012 with a degree in Human Evolutionary Biology. As an undergraduate, Cristina was involved in multiple community building and advising programs. She was a member of Latinos in Health Careers, a group that supported student professional interests with multiple resources, and served as a Peer Advising Fellow for Harvard freshmen. She volunteered as a Student Researcher at Harvard Medical School's Crimson Care Collaborative, where she gathered demographic and quality improvement data for a poor, refugee/post-incarcerated population in Chelsea, MA. After graduating college, she worked for Boston Children's Hospital as a Research Coordinator in the Neonatal Pulmonary Department, focusing primarily on respiratory issues in premature infants. Cristina wishes to stay active in urban communities as a pediatrician. She believes the Urban Health Scholars Program will fortify her values of service and give her ample opportunity to stay involved in resource-deficient populations.
Tina Jaramillo - 2017
Tina was born in upstate New York and raised in Bethlehem, PA. From there, she went on to graduate in 2012 from Cornell University with a B.A. in Biological Sciences and Psychology. Her time spent working at the Cayuga Medical Center sparked her interest in medicine as well as caring for the underserved. After graduation, she spent the year working in the Americorps program, City Year Boston, where she tutored and mentored 10th graders at an inner-city public high school. From this experience, she gained perspective on the challenges low-income populations face, both inside and outside of the classroom. These challenges included many health related issues, and she saw her students struggle to gain access to the high quality care they deserved. Her time at the English High School confirmed that she wants to eventually work to close the disparity gap in health care, as well as work with youth populations who are the most at risk. As an Urban Health Scholar, she is excited to gain insight and knowledge on the struggles of at-risk inner-city populations, as well as strategies on how to spend her career advocating for health equity. After Geisel, she isn't sure exactly what branch of medicine she would like to pursue, but is strongly considering looking for a specialty within the pediatric realm.
David Whitehead - 2017
Dave grew up in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in Chemical Engineering. During his time at Northwestern he served communities in nearby Chicago by triaging at a free health clinic and volunteering at a housing shelter. Abroad, he worked in Panama to address wastewater management challenges facing the town of Portobelo. After graduating, Dave's desire to work directly with communities to improve livelihoods brought him to Masindi, Uganda. In Uganda he helped start an agricultural social enterprise that strives to increase the incomes of small-holder farmers by empowering them with access to high-value markets. These experiences introduced Dave to the many challenges in promoting health and delivering healthcare to communities and have spurred his desire as a physician to work to improve disparities in health. Dave sees UHS as an awesome opportunity to continue to learn how to cultivate healthy, vibrant communities in underserved urban areas and as a place to learn from and encourage others striving to do the same. He enjoys traveling, backpacking, soccer, snowboarding and spending time with family and friends.
Bianca Williams - 2017
Bianca Williams was born and raised in the South Shore region of Chicago, Il. about 10 minutes from where former Senator Barack Obama resided. During her youth, she was involved in countless activities including jazz, ballet, bible study, girl scouts, gymnastics, volleyball, etc. The list can go on and on, mainly due to the encouragement from her family. They are a very influential part of her life and the reason she is in medical school today. Bianca graduated from Howard University in May 2011 Magna Cum Laude, with a Bachelors of Science degree. For those who are not aware of the university, Howard is the original and most prestigious of the historically black colleges. The university is rich with history just like Dartmouth College. There she was accepted into the Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society. After graduation, she took a year to devote her time to volunteerism at her church food pantry and at LaRabida Children's Hospital. Bianca also continued work as a bank teller, a more exciting job than one would expect. Her love of science is rooted in the educational values her grandparents bestowed upon her. Bianca is eager to learn not only from the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, but also what you as her peers and colleagues will have to teach.