About UST/AHEC Scholars
Faculty & Mentors
Events & Activities
How to Apply for UST/AHEC Scholars
2018 NACHC Application
Salma Afifi, School of Pharmacy
I am an Egyptian-American who moved to this country at age 11. I have lived in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Canada and finally, the United States. I came here with my parents and my three siblings. I followed the example of my parents, both of whom are pharmacists - and enrolled in pharmacy school.
I am now in my third year, and will begin rotations in the summer. I am planning to do a residency after my rotations to become a clinical pharmacist where I will have more interaction with patients and other health care providers.
I believe that there is inequality in the health care system in the US and I have a commitment to helping people that need it the most. Therefore, I became interested in Urban Service Track to help those in the underserved communities. UST offers the tools that I need to educate and counsel patients, and raise awareness about the inequalities in our health care system. I am joining UST with work experience from a retail pharmacy as well as hospital experience, and I hope that UST will add to my experiences and help me grow and learn as a future pharmacist.
Paige Armstrong, School of Medicine
I spent the majority of my youth in Redding, CT. I attended Hopkins School in Woodbridge, CT for high school,and moved to Baltimore, MD to attend Johns Hopkins University. There, I majored in public health with a natural science focus, was pre-med, and minored in Spanish for the Professions. I then proceeded to complete a master of health science in environmental health sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, with my thesis focusing on the issues of water quality and quantity. I hope that my future career as a physician can encompass serving a variety of patients, including those in underserved community settings in the U.S. and abroad. I also hope to continue my work volunteering with health education outreach and clinical research.
The UST provides students with the tools and exposure to ideas that will permit health care providers to better serve an urban population. These skills expand our knowledge and involve us in valuable volunteer opportunities that can prime us to engage in similar endeavors throughout our careers. UST also offers leadership experiences that are important in developing our skills as health care providers. In college, I worked extensively with a program to bring interpretation services to clinics throughout the inner city. Through that program, I also became trained as an interpreter and volunteered in a free clinic. I have also worked abroad in Mexico and Central America as a volunteer in rural clinics, a public health worker assisting with latrine construction, and as a medical student assisting with a diabetes education clinic. The resulting leadership skills and unique knowledge I have acquired will allow me to assist my colleagues as we work with other underserved populations in outreach efforts.
Chris Belknap, School of Medicine, Class of 2012
I grew up in Stonington, an upper middle class town in Southeastern, CT. I went to a small, private high school in New London, CT and then attended Yale University. I graduated in 2008, armed with the following: a degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry; some experience in biomedical research; and very different reasons for wanting to be a doctor than those I had originally. I also gained a solid background in medical ethics and comparative health policy through some of my courses and projects.
I am interested in the UST because, as a doctor, I want to work where I am needed most. I want to help populations who might not be able to get the health care they need if I were not there. I also want to build relationships with students in other health care fields, and learn how to work with their disciplines to deliver care in the most efficient way possible. I bring to the UST research experience in places such as rural Nepal and inner city Baltimore, where I began to understand the social, economic, educational and cultural barriers that prevent poor people from receiving good medical treatment. I also bring a strong interest in working with everyone else in the group to build solutions to overcome these barriers.
Jennifer Bordonaro, School of Medicine, Class of 2012
A Connecticut native, I attended the University of Connecticut and majored in molecular and cell biology. Upon graduating, I was undecided as to which career path to choose and began working as an EMT in Hartford and New Britain. Through that work, I became fascinated about the need for health care services and the special circumstances facing urban communities. Every day, I would be called to homes for not only life-threatening emergencies, but also the more "everyday" complaints that one would likely see in a primary care office. Since many of these patients were uninsured or underinsured, they had no primary care physician and sought care in the emergency department. Limited or no access to the hospital led them to call an ambulance for transport. In addition to my EMT experiences, I had the opportunity to travel to Haiti this past summer. Witnessing living conditions of the poor and their lack of health care access opened my eyes to the realities of life that have a direct impact on health. My work studying the ProHealth House Call Program, which serves elderly patients with limited access to health care, added to my previous experiences working with underserved populations and interdisciplinary teams.
With UST, I am excited to operate as part of a team, learning from the other students and gaining a better grasp of others' perspectives. I have witnessed that different disciplines do not always understand or respect one another's point of view. In the future, I will use these experiences to work alongside students and colleagues toward a common goal: the very best patient care.
Cheryl Cohler, School of Medicine, Class of 2012
As a first-year medical student and Connecticut native, I am excited to expand my experiences through the UST. During high school, I began work with diverse populations at Yale-New Haven Hospital's pediatric psychiatry and oncology wards. Later, I broadened my clinical and research exposure at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. There, I worked with in- and out-patient services; conducted research on the use of antibody immunotherapy as a first-line lymphoma treatment; and undertook a study on evaluating transformed lymphoma. While obtaining an undergraduate degree in the biological basis of behavior and Hispanic studies at the University of Pennsylvania, I taught health and biology at an inner city high school. I have taken this interest to the international level, helping to set up free walk-in clinics in rural Belize. Through that experience, I learned such technical tools as performing medical histories and physicals. Most importantly, I witnessed the need for teaching health care basics in areas devoid of educational and financial resources. Over the next four years, I plan to channel my passion for medicine and my scientific curiosities to reach those patient populations that need quality care the most.
Jessica Crank, School of Nursing, Class of 2010
I am a third-year nursing student at UConn. Born in Hartford, I have lived in Enfield, CT all of my life. Ever since I was a child, I have aspired to work in the health care field. In the summer of 2004, I volunteered at Johnson Memorial Hospital in the maternity and birthing suites, and currently work as a nurse's aide. This past summer, I volunteered in a small Ecuadorian community to help plant crops, build a drying house and visit with local school children. After I graduate, I plan to continue my education to pursue a master's degree in pediatric nursing. In the fall of 2009, I hope to study in South Africa and gather as many new cultural and learning experiences as possible. The main reason that I am interested in UST is because I want to gain as much knowledge as I possibly can. To be a great nurse, I believe, one must immerse oneself in as many different and challenging situations as possible. UST offers these situations, and challenges its members to acquaint themselves with unfamiliar languages and people of all cultures. UST is energizing me to be as culturally competent as I can be and to work as a team with other health care professionals..
Cassidy Dahn, School of Medicine, Class of 2012
I grew up in the very small, rural town of Oxford, Connecticut with my two parents and younger brother. I am very family-oriented, but was ready to go off on my own after high school. Now a first-year medical student, I attended New York University in the heart of Manhattan for the past four years and absolutely loved it. At first, it was a bit overwhelming to be in such a different environment, but I fell in love quickly. I enjoy the hustle and bustle, the stimulating setting, and the wide variety of foods, people, activities, and opportunities to learn. Energy and diversity are two characteristics that I also want to have in my future career. Whether I choose to pursue emergency medicine, pediatrics, or some other discipline, I know that I will never bore or tire of a career as a physician with its ongoing person-to-person contact.
A good team is composed of more than one good player. It works well and functions like a well-oiled machine. Its keys are good communication, ability to compromise, and a common goal. The qualities, joys, and lessons I have gained as a lifelong athlete will carry over into my career as a physician. One of my main attractions to UST is the interaction with classmates and friends who have similar goals and aspirations. I hope that we will make a change for the better. One of life?s biggest injustices is that people do not have equal access to high-quality care. In my experience, the greatest contributors to poor health are a lack of education and resources due to poor living situations or habits. Patients always benefit from seeing a primary care physician regularly rather than waiting until disaster strikes. Most also benefit from the education they receive in the care of a good physician. It is my goal as a future physician to address these injustices by advocating for universal health care, access to all and quality care for all.
Craig Folcik, School of Nursing, Class of 2011
I am a sophomore enrolled in the UConn School of Nursing. native and lifelong resident of Southington, CT, I evaluated the many career choices during high school, and eventually settled upon nursing when I was a junior. I made the choice when a family member of mine was hospitalized with a severe injury. My family lived in his company, and with all the nurses who cared for him. With their constant supervision, care, and hearts, they became family and heroes. After those painful few weeks, I decided to follow in their footsteps. Before high school, I volunteered in an Alzheimer's Resource Center in Southington. I provided entertainment and fun activities for the residents and became very close to the people there. After just a short while, I realized how eager these people were to enjoy company and to share a smile. Even though I was quite young and had no medical experience, I began to understand vulnerable and helpless people, their needs, and their desire to give happiness. That experience, combined with working in a nursing home for the past two years, has given me a yearning to help the needy. I am uncertain about which branch of nursing I will pursue, but am sure my immediate goal is to achieve my bachelor's degree. Then, I hope to attend graduate school.
UST is one of the most honorable and respectable organizations I have ever been a part of. The organization spreads wellness, health and education among the urban underserved residents of Connecticut. That is an amazing triumph. I wanted to join this program for its honor and accomplishments, and for the joy of sharing health to those underserved. I feel that the greatest accomplishment of health care students and providers is to serve those most vulnerable. I believe my desire and yearning for helping those people in need are very strong and will guide me to be a great UST member.
Wendy Garvin, School of Nursing
I am a Boston native and have worked as a Registered Nurse for nearly five years. After graduating from St. Joseph College in West Hartford, I worked at a variety of health care facilities in positions ranging from staff nurse in medical/surgical and emergency medicine units to assistant director of nurses in the long-term care arena. My passion is to work with oncology patients, which is why I am pursuing an advanced practice nursing degree at UConn. My ultimate goals are to teach on the university level and to obtain a PhD.
UST fulfills a two-fold mission for me: to teach about health promotion and to delve deeper into communities in need. What I bring to the UST is an open mind and the willingness to collaborate and create synergies with medical, dental, nursing and pharmaceutical students, with the objective of improving the quality of care in communities.
Esther Gonzales, School of Medicine
Erica Hinz, School of Medicine, Class of 2011
I am a second-year medical student who grew up in Danbury, one of Connecticut's largest and most culturally diverse cities. In high school, people representing many languages and cultures surrounded me. My own father, who teaches English as a Second Language, and grandmother, a retired Spanish teacher, are bilingual. In addition, I traveled to Costa Rica this past summer to study and become more conversant in Spanish medical terminology. In 2005, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.S.E. degree in biomedical engineering and a minor in Spanish. My next step was to work in Chicago as a Neuromonitoring Clinician in the operating room. My duties included monitoring the status of patients neurological and motor systems during lumbar and cervical spinal surgeries. My assignments included patient populations throughout the city, populations with little or no insurance who obtained low quality health care. This work gave me a keen insight into our nation's crumbling health care system.
My objectives in joining the UST are three-fold: to continue working with the underserved; to broaden my understanding of their challenges; and to better prepare myself for a future in urban health care. Through the years, I have learned to value teamwork and collaboration among health care professionals. A built-in benefit of being part of UST is that I have developed mentors, which is crucial as I tackle the long, hard challenge of studying medicine. The combination of my language skills and travel, along with the value of participating in the UST, will better equip me to help those who have fallen through the cracks of our current health care system
Jessica Hooker, School of Nursing
I am a junior in UConn's school of nursing. Raised in Connecticut, I am a graduate of Bacon Academy in Colchester. As a Certified Nurse's Assistant, I have gained much clinical experience working in nursing and rehabilitation centers in Portland and East Haddam for the past two years. I am leaning toward the field of pediatric nursing because of my interest in helping children. I hope to gain experience as an RN then pursue further education to become an APRN. In high school, I spent a week providing dental care to the people in Haiti, which inspired me to help other underprivileged populations of society. This year,I also spent a week in Kentucky helping renovate the homes of low-income families in rural areas. After seeing the devastating conditions of both populations and the sincere appreciation they had for our care, I am highly motivated to provide for similarly disadvantaged communities.
The UST will improve my cultural awareness and cooperation with other health professionals. I am excited for this opportunity to improve my experiences in the urban setting as we help people from many different ethnicities and backgrounds.
Laura Huling, School of Medicine, Class of 2012
Naima Thavory Joseph, School of Medicine
As an undergraduate at the University of Notre Dame, I established the Haiti Working Group in which we addressed Haitian health issues by collaborating with students and professors in the fields of industrial engineering, graphic design, anthropology, theology and biology. The group engaged in problem-solving which incorporated an awareness of the unique geography of Haiti, its culture, the biomechanics of disease transmission, and other factors. Consequently, I recognize that the proper delivery and success of health care are contingent on teamwork. I champion the forward outlook of the Urban Service Track program, and am impressed that we students, from various health disciplines, are engaged to address the specific health challenges of those living in urban and underserved communities.
I am a first-year medical student, who was born in Norwalk, CT to Haitian immigrants. My diversity stems from my traits as a minority, a female, a trilingual, and a first generation American, as well as from the wealth of experiences I have self-initiated in order to mold and broaden my own perspective. I formed a club dedicated to increasing awareness about global disease; lived and studied in France; volunteered with the AmeriCorps program at a primary care clinic serving the uninsured; led an annual forum focused on women's workplace roles; and researched the elimination of infectious disease in poor countries and urban communities. I continue to develop the observational, intellectual, conceptual, integrative, and compassionate skill sets necessary to medicine. My contributions to the Urban Service Track derive from cumulative lessons learned from these experiences. My leadership, resilience and commitment to overcoming challenges hopefully will strengthen my resolve and dedication as a physician and advocate for the vulnerable and poor.
Kate Kubler, School of Medicine, Class of 2012
Although I am most recently from Los Angeles, I grew up in a small town in Connecticut where most of my peers were first generation college graduates. After attending Carleton College in Minnesota for my B.A. in Biology, I made my move to Los Angeles. While living in L.A., I trained and worked as a behavior therapist for children with special needs and interned weekly in a pre-medical program at a Los Angeles hospital and at an integrated resource clinic for the Hollywood area homeless. The enormous patient population of Los Angeles afforded me the challenge of working with extensive cultural and economic diversity. I began to develop an understanding of the complexities of the what and the how of getting treatment to the underserved and underrepresented.
I have learned that interdisciplinary healthcare is a necessary means to the end of improving how we think about serving the underserved in medicine in our own country and around the world. It is necessary for the spiritual and physical health of a community as a whole that all community members have access to respectful, continuous health care. There is desperate need for basic preventative medicine among the underinsured and the uninsured. Changes in how we as Americans deliver healthcare to the underserved members of our communities can and must happen at a grassroots level. I have to believe that idealism will drive us forward, out of the dangers of complacency. Community healthcare is rife with complexities and difficulties. I am excited for the challenge. It is an honor to get to learn from peers across disciplines and from underserved patients through the University of Connecticut's progressive UST.
Irina Lisker, School of Medicine
I was born in Kiev, Ukraine and immigrated to New London, CT when I was six years old. I graduated from Mount Holyoke College where I majored in biology and Spanish. As part of my undergraduate education, I studied abroad in Seville, Spain and volunteered at a nursing home. Additionally, I was a volunteer English teacher in small villages in Slovakia and Hungary. Both of these cross-cultural experiences helped to break down common stereotypes about the U.S., Spain, Hungary, or Slovakia. As an immigrant, I can relate to patients from different countries who are not familiar with our health care system or who have experienced communication problems due to a language barrier. As a first-year medical student, one of my professional goals is to become fluent in medical Spanish so that I can personally eliminate language difficulties that I may encounter with Spanish-speaking patients. After medical school, I hope to open a family wellness clinic with my uncle, an acupuncturist, in New York City. The goal is to create a fusion of Western and Eastern medicine to provide optimal patient care. I firmly believe that one type of medicine cannot adequately address the complexities of disease. Therefore, if medical providers integrated various aspects of Eastern and Western medicine they could produce an innovative and more effective plan of care for their patients. UST creates a platform for formal cross-cultural learning, interdisciplinary teamwork, and education about the critical medical issues plaguing minority groups. As a UST participant, I will contribute my language skills, cultural sensitivity, and desire to change the one-size-fits-all medical model.
Paula Andrea Lucuara, School of Medicine, Class of 2012
I am a first-year medical student. I was born and raised in Colombia, South America and immigrated to the United States with my mother when I was eighteen years old. To go to college, I first had to take classes in English as a Second Language at a community college. Then, I did undergraduate studies at UConn where I completed my Bachelor of Science Degree in Biological Sciences in 2007. My interests are varied: family medicine; OB/GYN; public health; and even surgery! Nevertheless, no matter the specialty I choose, I am certain that I want to help underserved populations and be involved in improving their health care as well.
I was attracted to UST because it offers the opportunity to start serving urban and underserved communities, and to practice health care with other professionals. Working together with other health care colleagues is a crucial aspect of today's medicine. My background as an immigrant coupled with bilingual language skills gives me greater insight into the nature of underserved patients and communities. When we first arrived in the U.S., my mother and I were uninsured. Even after we obtained health insurance, we struggled to receive proper healthcare. Thus, I understand the difficulties that urban communities experience in this area. I have participated in AmeriCorps helping children from Hartford schools to prepare for the Connecticut Mastery Test, and in other community projects and non-profit organizations of the city. Furthermore, I worked as a parent educator at the Hispanic Health Council and as the outreach coordinator for the Connecticut River Valley Farmworker Health Program, a project that provides health care to migrant and seasonal farm workers. I truly believe that UST is a great resource for all of us who are going into the healthcare field and I think that it will complement significantly my training in medicine.
John McCarthy, School of Pharmacy, Class of 2011
As a native of Enfield and lifelong Connecticut resident, I graduated from UConn in 2002 with a B.S. in Psychology. I worked for three years in retail management before deciding that I needed a more fulfilling career where I could affect people's lives. I wanted a career that is challenging, where every day is different, and where I will always learn something new. In 2005, I returned to UConn as a pharmacy student. As soon as I did, I knew it was the best decision I have ever made.
My reasons for wanting to join the UST are the very same reasons why I wanted to become a pharmacist. I want to start using my knowledge to make a difference now. There are people in need of the services we can provide, and I am eager to get involved and practice what we preach. UST provides stimulating educational activities along with opportunities to provide care to the patients who need it most, the underserved. The program exemplifies what all health care practitioners should strive to do. I believe I can contribute to the program with my knowledge, excellent people skills, and high motivation.
Kathleen Merwin, School of Nursing
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. (Margaret Mead, anthropologist)
A sophomore nursing student, I can best be described as an outgoing, driven and caring member of a very close-knit Italian-American family from North Haven. I have always been very involved in my school and town communities. At the age of five, I joined the Girl Scouts of America and eventually achieved its highest honor, receipt of the Gold Award. Over the years, I have volunteered regularly at the Sister Ann Grimes Center; St. Rita Church Summer Bible Camp; Ronald McDonald House; Relay for Life; Whitney Manor; and the Hospital of Saint Raphael, where I first began volunteering at the age of fourteen. My work at St. Raphael's has fostered my passion for nursing: the atmosphere of the hospital always exhilarated me. I continue to volunteer at the hospital and oversee its summer student volunteer program.
Molly Moran, School of Nursing
Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, I am an established registered nurse who is in the first year at UConn working toward becoming an APRN. In addition, I am a recent graduate of the University of Notre Dame with a degree in environmental science. After college, I had the opportunity to work at the Biosphere 2 Center in Oracle, AZ as support staff for an ecology field school. There, I decided that I preferred to pursue a more people-oriented career than one in the arena of hard sciences. Thus, I entered an accelerated RN program at Columbia University, graduating in 2005. Since then, I have gained experience as a medical/surgical and emergency department nurse, first at Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn, then at Spearfish Regional Hospital in Spearfish, SD.
I was attracted to the ideals of the UST, especially since my goal is to work in primary care in a small community setting. As health care providers, I believe we are obligated to serve those who need us most. I further believe in the power of well educated nurses to affect real and positive change on a patient and community level.
Marcus Moss, School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2012
I grew up in Kansas City, Missouri and attended boarding school in Apopka, Florida, a suburb of Orlando, Florida. In 2008, I graduated from Oakwood University in Alabama with a bachelor's degree in biology. My short-term goal is to graduate from dental school and serve in the greater Hartford communities providing a stabilizing influence in turbulent times. My long-term goals are two-fold: to continue to work to reduce the health disparities facing the uninsured and underinsured; and to provide a positive role model for those underrepresented in the health professions.
UST goals are consistent with my objectives and core values. It offers a means to work to make a difference, and provides invaluable resources otherwise unobtainable in a formal educational setting. In addition, it allows me to reinvest in the community as I train for my calling. During high school and college, I participated in many outreach experiences, primarily building schools and community centers in such countries as Costa Rica and India. My experiences in outreach have helped to shape my career goals. Compassion, light-heartedness, and empathy are the character traits that I bring to UST.
Kerrie O'Brien, School of Dental Medicine
Mariliam Padilla, School of Nursing, 2010
I am a junior in the school of nursing. My family is from Puerto Rico and I grew up in New Haven. I always knew that I wanted to be involved in the health care field and that nursing would be a great profession for me. Which branch of nursing I will pursue is still undetermined, but I want to help others and learn more about various health care issues.
UST offers many opportunities to work with underprivileged populations and to engage with students from other health care fields. I have volunteered within hospitals and schools in order to help others learn more about their health and nutrition. We all bring something unique to the program that enables us to work proficiently as a team. My clinical experience, coupled with my ideas, will allow me to have many opportunities to contribute to UST.
Lauren Rosen, School of Medicine
I am a first year medical student who was born in Hartford and raised in South Windsor, CT attended UConn at Storrs, where I majored in pathobiology, and minored in molecular and cell biology, and philosophy. My interests in the health care field are broad and include pathology, primary care, and complementary and alternative medicine. While in college, I became active in community outreach and began to volunteer at a local homeless shelter. I found this experience to be particularly meaningful and developed a passion for working with underserved populations. Also during college, I participated in an alternative spring break trip to Philadelphia that further exposed me to medically underserved populations and issues such as access, affordability, and means to care.
I hope through UST to develop a better understanding about these and other issues surrounding the medically underserved. Moreover, I plan to integrate this knowledge into the practice of medicine to better serve populations of need.
Natalia Sanchez, School of Medicine
As a first-generation American born of Colombian and Australian parents, I was raised in a multicultural family. Born in Chicago, I spent the majority of my childhood in Racine, WI, although I also lived in Panama, Venezuela and Australia. I graduated from Vanderbilt University with a double major in biology and Spanish. During college, I created an on-campus organization, which was both a quiz bowl and charity event, studied in Spain, and served as a Spanish interpreter in various medical and dental clinics in Tennessee.
When I volunteered at the Health Care Network, a non-profit clinic in Wisconsin, the dedication of the many health care professionals who donated their time to the uninsured, the jobless and the homeless inspired me. As a person who is solution-driven and creative, I hope to implement structural changes in the health care system. I feel a strong commitment to use my professional training and education to alleviate some of the racial and ethnic disparities in our country as they relate to health care services.
Christopher Soares, School of Dental Medicine
I am a first-year dental student and a recent UConn graduate with a degree in molecular and cell biology. During high school, I was initially exposed to the health care field through volunteer work with Danbury Hospital and several local health care centers. My first college-level experience with underserved populations occurred during an Alternative Break immersion trip to the Gulf Coast, one of the first of many for me. I felt as though I made a tangible difference. Moreover, the trip identified many new social issues, such as homelessness, health care and affordable housing. More importantly, it showed me how an individual could spark change. During a subsequent immersion trip to the Dominican Republic, I led a group that provided preventive health care workshops on oral health, nutrition, and safe sex practices for children and adults living in rural villages. That activity made me realize that education is empowering.
I hope to use my experiences with UST to develop as a physician, and to apply my skills to work with underserved populations.
Jen Song, School of Nursing
Health care professions are rewarding and selfless careers; however, the business underlying both hospitals and the health care industry also intrigues me. As such, I recently switched from a business major to the School of Nursing, and plan to minor in business administration. Born in New Haven and raised in Woodbridge, CT, I have enjoyed volunteering in urban neighborhoods through experiences such as building homes with Habitat for Humanity and working with veterans in VA hospitals.
It was rewarding to help the people who needed it most because I knew they really appreciated it.
I joined UST to meet people specializing in the various branches of health care and to learn from more experienced students. Through a retreat and a community service day, I had the pleasure to speak with students, which was both educational and fun. More importantly, I joined UST to gain greater experience in underserved communities, and to see first hand the disparities and challenges they face when trying to access quality health care. I know I will be more successful and knowledgeable in my nursing career if I start in underserved communities near UConn. I am excited about the UST and look forward to becoming more involved in the program.
Brittany Sonnichsen, School of Dental Medicine
Hassam Sultan, School of Dental Medicine
Born in Lahore, Pakistan, I moved to the United States with my family when I was about 3 years old. I am a first-year dental student, who attended UConn for an undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering on a biomaterials track. I am now just a few courses short of a master's degree in biomedical engineering, and intend to complete that degree in a couple of years. Upon obtaining my general dentistry degree, I hope to continue my dental education in orthodontics and open a private practice. I volunteered in the 2008 CT Mission of Mercy where I assisted dentists in providing oral health care to underserved populations. This event underscored for me what health care providers can do for people who cannot pay for health care. It is one thing to imagine people who cannot pay for their own health care; it is completely different when you meet them.
The UST provides me the opportunity to work with underserved populations, and to communicate and interact with a vastly diverse population. I believe developing those capabilities are crucial in providing the best oral or medical health care. As a first-year dental student, I bring my patience, open mind, and dedication to the field of health care and UST.
Lakeshia Thomas, School of Dental Medicine
James Wallace, School of Medicine
Katherine Wallander, School of Nursing
I am a sophomore undergraduate nursing student from Houston, Texas. This large and diverse city, which I call home, has provided me with a passion for helping the underserved, and a desire to see the community changed for the better. As a result, I want to work as community health nurse to serve neglected communities, in particular the homeless.
Through my volunteer work at Healthcare for the Homeless Houston and through UConn's Community Outreach Homelessness Project, I hope to add an additional perspective and passion to the overwhelmingly talented group of UST Scholars. Through UST, I hope to gain knowledge and experience with and from my fellow UST peers, while serving the surrounding Connecticut communities.
Jessica Wilson, School of Medicine
Kristina Ziegler, School of Medicine
I am a second-year medical student who grew up in Meriden, CT and moved around a bit until the age of 14, when my family settled in Chester, CT. Before beginning medical school, I volunteered as an EMT with the Chester Hose Company Ambulance and worked as a CNA in a nursing home and in the New Britain Hospital dialysis unit. The most important lesson I learned through these assignments was the essential role of teamwork in the provision of patient care. My expectation is that the UST will promote positive interactions among members of different health care disciplines, making us better caregivers as a result.
I grew up in an area with an economically and ethnically homogeneous population, which has compelled me to broaden my vision through the UST. My goal is to become a family medicine practitioner in urban and rural areas with limited access to health care. UST will help me learn about different social and ethnic groups so that I can expand my cultural competency for the benefit of my future patients.
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