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Taylor Aglio, School of Medicine, Class of 2015
Background: Kensington, CT; Graduated from Loyola University in Maryland with a BS in Biology Related Experience: Education Based Latino Outreach volunteer, Yale Children’s Diabetes Program clinical assistant
Why I chose UST: I have developed an interest in exploring ways to address the pressing health care needs of urban, underserved populations and to decrease existing health inequalities. In order to confront these complex health issues, I must increase my knowledge of how various socio-economic and cultural factors impact health disparities and learn how to implement effective programs to decrease those inequities. I see the Urban Service Track as an opportunity to develop this expertise. This impressive initiative not only will promote my development into a competent physician, but also will prepare me to make a difference in the health of underserved communities. I look forward to embarking on a rewarding career dedicated to serving others by providing quality primary care to children, advocating for the elimination of health disparities, and developing interventions to close the health care gap in urban, underserved communities.
Sahar Barfchin, School of Medicine, Class of 2015
I was born in Sweden and raised in Connecticut. I graduated from University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a BS in Psychology and Neuroscience. I worked in clinical research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City for two and a half years while volunteering with various underserved groups in the city, after which I entered medical school. I also spent a summer in rural India. There, I learned about the surrounding communities and their great needs in healthcare and economic stability, and helped plan a model for providing such communities with adequate healthcare.
I joined UST because I saw a gap in my medical education related to underserved populations. I hope to learn about the unique challenges faced by various resource-poor communities in and around Hartford, and to work with these communities and colleagues from different healthcare professions in order to furnish sustainable healthcare projects for underserved patients. UST offers an education in leadership skills specifically related to organizing multidisciplinary groups dedicated to addressing a full spectrum of healthcare needs for underserved patients, as well as an education on how to open up local and national dialogues around such healthcare issues. Ultimately, I hope UST will help me better serve underserved communities by training me how to use my education to improve the lives of traditionally-overlooked patients.
Rose Barham, School of Medicine, Class of 2015
Background: Born and raised in Northampton, MA. Graduate of Skidmore College, B.A. in Chemistry/Biochemistry and University of Rhode Island, M.S. in Chemistry
Related Experience: Volunteered in the emergency department at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital in New London, CT. Worked at a pharmaceutical company on antibacterial research.
I think the explosion of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and obesity, are going to dominate health care while I practice. In order to manage chronic illness, patients need a variety of resources to allow them to practice self-care. As a practitioner, I believe that we need to work together to make this possible, especially when people have high barriers to receiving this care. Understanding the roles of all professionals in health care, and what barriers patients have, is what UST is all about. No matter where I end up practicing, rural, urban or in-between, it will be critical to manage resources and leverage the skills of the team I work in, in order to provide effective and efficient care. There will always people with challenging situations that need advocates for their care.
Melina Benson, School of Medicine, Class of 2015
Courtney Beyers, School of Nursing, Class of 2013
Background: Born in Edison, NJ, raised in the beach community of Brick Township, NJ
Related Experience: Alternative Spring Break service trips with Reformed University Fellowship (UConn RUF) in New York City.
Volunteer with AHEC Migrant Farm Worker Clinics and CareNet Crisis Pregnancy Centers of Willimantic & Danielson, CT.
My experiences with Reformed University Fellowship outreaches in New York City continue to influence and reinforce my worldview today: there is not one insignificant person on the planet. As a result, I became interested in reaching out to underserved populations further, particularly in a health care setting. This past summer, participating with AHEC Migrant Farm Worker Clinics was a tremendous encouragement to me. Now, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to serve people through various UST outreaches as a student nurse to continue to develop and expand my own knowledge of disparities in today’s health care delivery, to enrich my nursing clinical experiences in the community setting, and to network with peers and professionals who share my similar interests in urban healthcare while reflecting a picture of interdisciplinary patient care.
Gregory Biron, School of Dental Medicine
Jonathan Boros, School of Nursing, Class of 2013
Kafi Charles, School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2015
Background: Born in Trinidad, relocated to Queens Village, NY at age nine. Stony Brook University graduate with a degree in health science.
Related Experience: Participant in "Give Kids A Smile Day," People-to-People Ambassador Programs, and UConn's Health Careers Opportunity summer programs.
"Coming from such a diverse background, I have witnessed firsthand the struggles of the underserved. My experiences have guided me toward the dental field and a mission of helping the underserved liberate themselves of such a title. I hope my participation in UST will keep me on the path to change through education and collaboration with others who share my vision."
Jennifer Crowley, School of Pharmacy, Class of 2014
I was born in New Britain, Connecticut, and a few years later I moved to Southington where I was raised. During my first two years at UConn, I completed my minor in Spanish, and shortly after studied abroad in Spain. Ever since high school I have been an active volunteer in many community service clubs through both my school and my church. I have traveled to Mexico for mission trips multiple times, as well as to Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. I am the Professional Chair for Alpha Zeta Omega Pharmaceutical Fraternity, an active member in the Student National Pharmaceutical Association, and an American Pharmacists Association member. I coordinate weekly visits to the Mansfield Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation through the Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society, and I also work with Spanish-speaking student at Windham Center Elementary School through the American Reads program every week. I sought involvement in UST to be able to positively impact the lives of a more diverse population of people than I have assisted in the past. For example, I have yet to working with vulnerable populations such as HIV/AIDs patients, refugees, or substance abusers. My experiences with UST will enable these populations to receive the healthcare and pharmaceutical assistance they need, and decrease the number of defenseless people in desperate need of care.
Melissa Dion, School of Medicine, Class of 2015
I was born and raised in Meriden, CT and graduated in 2011 from Vassar College with a BA in Biology. After working with the population in Poughkeepsie through the Office of Health Education and coming back to Meriden to volunteer with the Girls Incorporated throughout college, I realized that I wanted to work with an underserved urban population for my career in medicine, specifically in obstetrics and gynecology. While in medical school, my work with the homeless population of Hartford, CT has been one of the most rewarding experiences. The Urban Service Track allows me many opportunities to explore these interests and cultivates the skills necessary for me to effectively work with this population throughout medical school and my career as an OB/GYN. In addition, the Urban Service Track has really provided me with the tools to work successfully with other health care providers so that I can competently serve all patients, including the most vulnerable.
Devorah Donnell, School of Medicine
Tatiana Duggan, School of Medicine, Class of 2016
Jacqueline Fable, School of Medicine, Class of 2015
Background: Although born in Bridgeport, CT, I spent a majority of my childhood in New Milford, a fairly rural town in the southwest corner of Litchfield County. I was the first member of my family to attend college and received both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) located just outside of Albany, NY. Living in this urban environment for 5 years, I really developed my desire to work as a physician in an underserved urban population.
Related Experience: Through my involvement in the RPI Circle K community service group, I volunteered with countless projects, many of which involved working with underserved populations in Troy/Albany, NY area. I volunteered at Joseph’s House & Shelter cooking lunch or dinner for the homeless men living there, as well as with other local organizations such as the Troy Boys & Girls Club and Vanderheyden Hall whose purpose is to provide for youth and families who have been abused, neglected, abandoned or have special emotional or behavioral needs. Working with Vanderheyden was one of my favorite service projects because I had the real opportunity to impact the children’s lives in a positive way. I also volunteered at the Children’s Hospital at Albany Medical Center, where I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in the pediatric setting.
I have always felt a close association to one of Mother Teresa’s quotes: “Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.” I strongly believe that each individual is bestowed with certain gifts and it each person’s responsibility to use those gifts for the betterment of mankind. It is my goal that though the Urban Service Track, I can become more aware of health problems facing those who may be marginalized or forgotten in urban populations and that I will develop a mindset to not only treat patients from these populations, but also reduce the disparity of health care problems from those in underserved urban populations.
Jennifer Fiore, School of Medicine, Class of 2015
Background: Born and raised in Dresher, PA, currently resident in West Hartford, CT. Graduated from Harvard College wtih BA in chemistry and citation in Spanish language.
Related Experiences: Executive Director, Classroom Director and Teacher for Harvard Citystep, a nonprofit organization which uses dance and choreography to promote self-esteem and self-expression in urban youth in Cambridge, MA. Volunteered with Grow Clinic at Boston Medical Center, a clinic devoted to the care of children diagnosed with failure to thrive.
After spending a summer with the Grow Clinic in Boston after my first year of medical school, I developed a desire to learn more about interdisciplinary care for underserved patient populations. I am so grateful for the opportunity to join the Urban Service Track.
Rita Flynn, School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2016
Goetti Francois, School of Nursing, Class of 2013
Cynthia Gagliardi, School of Pharmacy, Class of 2013
Background: I am from the shoreline suburb of Branford, CT, but spent a lot of my time in the city of New Haven, CT where my grandparents and extended family have lived since their emigration from the Mediterranean. I recently received my B.S. in pharmacology in spring 2011 and will be graduating with my Pharm.D. in spring 2013.
Related Experience: My involvement in pharmaceutical research has introduced me to a different form of problem solving where the answer is not always found amongst a list of multiple choices. Also, as the newly elected president of Rho Chi, I am gaining valuable leadership skills. I really enjoy volunteering at the South Park Inn Homeless Shelter and Migrant Farm Worker Clinics because I formed meaningful relationships with patients despite having only one meeting with each of them. Only being a student, it was my first experience of patients confiding in me their health problems, and relying on me for guidance. From these experiences I knew I wanted to be part of Urban Service Track and spend more of my time helping the underserved populations. I believe many healthcare issues can be solved at their source, an unhealthy diet. One major concern I want to address for the underserved population of New Haven is their accessibility to healthy and wholesome meals. Investing in healthier diets now will decrease the need for expensive medication in the future. As a newly appointed UST Scholar, I am excited to be provided the opportunity to address these issues with the support of an interdisciplinary healthcare team, and to work directly with underserved patients in the New Haven area.
Julie Guest, School of Medicine, Class of 2016
Background: Born in Hartford, CT, and raised in West Hartford, CT. B.A. in Psychology and a concentration in Biological Psychology.
Related experience: Conducted clinical research in diabetic complications and vascular surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital respectively. At Holy Cross, volunteered for the Big Brother/Big Sister Program and the Best Buddies Foundation. College of the Holy Cross Class of 2009
Access to quality health care is a right for all people. Conducting research in diabetic complications in Boston showed me the need for outreach to the underserved. With proper education and basic tools to help control glucose levels, many of the complications of diabetes can be delayed if not prevented. The Urban Service Track has established many programs to help promote prevention and education for different populations. As a member of the UST, I will be working with other students who have a strong commitment to aiding the underserved communities in order to understand the challenges and to generate the means to best serve the different disadvantaged populations in Connecticut.
Deborah Hall, School of Medicine, Class of 2016
Zach Hovis, School of Pharmacy, Class of 2013
Home for me is the great city of Milwaukee, WI. I was born there and grew up just north of the city in the same house my father was raised in. I attended the same high school as my father as well and realized I needed to blaze my own trail. This most likely explains my left field decision to head east to the University of Connecticut. I received my bachelors of science in the School of Pharmacy in the spring of 2011. My first exposure to the innumerable opportunities to care for the underserved came at the Salvation Army Homeless Shelter in downtown Milwaukee. There I volunteered to help clean and recreate the children’s center, giving the children a safe haven for when school let out. The fact that I was able to do so much without even utilizing my education opened my eyes to the impact I would be able to have as a health care professional. In my future pharmacy career I have made it my professional goal to be a beacon in the community in which I live. I have a special interest in independent community pharmacy, particularly one that is actively involved in improving population health. It is my vision to host and sponsor events in the pharmacy or in the community that will improve access and quality of care for those who otherwise would not be able to seek it out. I am greatly excited by the opportunity to learn the skills to be able to organize and execute meaningful community events.
Paul Hwang, School of Pharmacy, Class of 2014
Background: Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut. I am graduating from the University of Connecticut.
Related Experience: Service through church organization in LOGAN Hope, Philadelphia, and Yucatan, Mexico. Volunteer at Talmadge Park Nursing Center.
For the past two summers, I volunteered in a church missions trip to Yucatan, Mexico. We were able to aid two impoverished areas by providing clothes, dispensing medication, and teaching English classes. This humbling experience has broadened my view of healthcare and all if it’s benevolent possibilities. One of my reasons for becoming a healthcare provider is to attend to any underserved population. As a pharmacist, I hope to assist patients with medical knowledge and direct them to healthier lives and hopefully I will be able to fulfill my goal to provide for anyone who seeks care. The UST program would give me an opportunity to work with others but also allows me to contribute my own knowledge and experience.
Kristan Ingraham, School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2016
Brian Jennings, School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2015
Background: Born in Brunswick, Ohio but moved to Norwalk, CT when I was two years old. I have a BA with majors in Biology and Spanish from Case Western Reserve University.
Related Experience: I have done work in the past with Habitat for Humanity. I also worked at The Free Clinic of Greater Cleveland as a history taker for 2 years while in college, where I was exposed to a wide variety of patient populations.
I was raised to believe that giving back to those less fortunate was an integral part of life. I feel that the Urban Service Track will help me with this goal in a few ways. Two in particular stand out. Health care is become increasingly more integrated amongst professions; however there is very limited exposure for medical students to the other health care professionals we will be working with. Being able to meet with students from other schools will not only help me to form connections, but also to learn more about what it is they do, and how it will relate to what I will do in the future. The second is just learning more about ways in which to better help the underserved. By getting more involved in the urban community it will be easier to see some of the things that really need to change, and to try to do the best possible things that could promote this change.
Katherine Jerome, School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2015
Background: I was born in Townshend, Vermont but was raised in St. John, United States Virgin Islands, only to come back to Vermont for high school and college. I graduated in May 2010 from the University of Vermont with a major in Biology and minors in Chemistry and Studio Art.
Related Experience: After graduating I spent another year in Burlington, Vermont working as a paraeducator and an afterschool homework help instructor at a public elementary school. There was an eclectic mix of students that had different learning styles, different socioeconomic class, and were originally from different countries. In fact, a lot of Burlington residents are actually refugees from war torn countries that are participating in resettlement programs like Somalia, Sudan, Kenya, and Burma. That year alone I was exposed to and able to work with so many different type of people, students and teachers alike, and have been through training regarding autism, English Language Learners ( ELL), oppositional defiant disorder, and behavioral disorders.
I am interested in UST because I want to start making connections and making myself available to underserved populations early in my dental education career. The UST will enable me to give back to the community and stay humble while connecting with other healthcare professionals to ensure optimum care for a patient, which is my ultimate goal as a future dentist.
Kristine Kenning, School of Medicine, Class of 2016
Khadija Khan, School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2016
Background: Born and Raised in Pakistan & Saudi Arabia. Studied Biomedical Engineering at Yale.
Related Experience: My experiences working with underserved populations include volunteering for a Geriatrics program at Yale New Haven hospital where I performed cognitive and physical therapy exercises on patients with delirium and dementia that were admitted to the hospital. At Yale, I was on the Executive board for the Yale Public Health Coalition & Yale College Students for Children’s Health where we worked with underserved minority populations in the City of New Haven. I was part of a week-long Youth Services Opportunities Program in Washington DC where I worked with organizations that advocated for homeless people including cleaning out hoarders apartments, working at soup kitchens & at donation agencies. I volunteered with Rebuilding New Orleans one Spring Break, where we gutted and re-painted houses for Katrina victims. I also spent a summer working with a local Rural Support NGO in Pakistan working to improve maternal & neo-natal care by setting up community organizations for social mobilization.
I hope to focus on providing oral care to underserved minorities by increasing access to dental care and looking for methods to reduce cost of care. I feel lack of access to care and lack of affordability is the biggest issue in providing adequate healthcare within the United States and abroad, so understanding key issues faced by urban underserved minorities and working with other Health Professionals will provide me with a better insight on tackling these issues
David Lee, School of Pharmacy, Class of 2013
Background: I was born in Boston, Massachusetts and lived in Chelsea, Massachusetts. My Family and I later moved to Dracut, Massachusetts, where we still reside. I Graduated from Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 2005 and earned my B.S. degree in Pharmacology from UConn in the Spring of 2011.
Related Experience: I was an active participant in Habitat for Humanity, rebuilding downtrodden houses in areas of Lawrence, MA. In addition, I spent time helping out at Lazarus House Ministries, which supplies transitional housing to the needy along with food and clothing services. They also supply basic health services, HIV testing, and work preparation programs to get members of the community back on their feet. During my time there in high school and early college years, I came in contact with many, many members of the underserved population whether it was serving hot food or discharging members who have gained enough care and skills to be self-sufficient and leave the house.
The reason I wanted to join Urban Service Track is to take the skills I have acquired and use them to solve health problems I have been seeing my whole life. Growing up in an underserved community, I have been exposed to a population who needs just a little bit of time from a health professional who cares to make all the difference. It is also important to be exposed to inter-professional teams and learn how to interact and work together with other health professionals. Learning these skills early in my career will help me down the road to help patients quickly and learn my strengths, as well as learn how to use the strengths of others.
Jiehyun Lee, School of Pharmacy
Stephanie Lenihan, Quinnipiac Physician Assistant Program
Yina Li, School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2015
Background: I was born and raised in Beijing, China. After undergraduate, I came to the US and obtained a Ph.D degree in Cell and Developmental Biology at Vanderbilt University.
Related Experience: I have previously volunteered in Beacon Hospice. My patients are mainly at nursing homes located in underserved urban areas. The most important thing that I have learned was to pay great attention to the patients’ needs by staying flexible and open-minded.
I believe we need to provide cares to people who need them most, and everyone’s effort counts however trivial it may be. In addition, we are treating patients as an integral individual; so we need to be aware of other types of illness besides the discipline that we are good at. I am really looking forward to my great UST experience, to learn the skills from all other disciplines and provide better health care to the underserved.
Tracey Modeste, School of Medicine, Class of 2015
Background: Born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago. Both my B.S. in Biology (minor in Business Administration) and M.S. in Marine Sciences were completed in Savannah, Georgia.
Related Experience: The lack of access to basic needs, such as medical care, frequently reduces the quality of life for many individuals. The ripple effect of their ill-health creates a burden on both their families and the community. In my volunteer experiences I have seen the disruption caused by treatable conditions, often because of a lack of medical access, education, and/or insufficient resources. These problems are best served by a multidisciplinary approach. The Urban Service Track has provided several opportunities for me to work in multidisciplinary medical groups, and to learn the skills to provide the most value to patients while working as a team.
Sarah Normandin, Quinnipiac Physician Assistant Program
Claudia Odiaka, School of Dental Medicine
Hannah O'Neill, School of Pharmacy, Class of 2013
Background: Lifetime resident of Windsor, Vermont. UConn graduate with a B.S. in Pharmacy Studies. Currently in pursuit of a Doctorate of Pharmacy (PharmD).
Related Experience: Worked as an intern through the Department of Veterans Affairs with a special focus on psychiatric and geriatric patient populations and served as a committee head for immunization awareness and outreach.
I wanted to become involved with the Urban Service Track because I want to better accommodate patient populations that may be overlooked by some clinicians. Many of the patient populations I currently enjoy working with and hope to assist in the future are considered underserved (ex. Veterans, psychiatric). In order to provide optimum care to these patients, I want to take every opportunity to supplement didactic lecture with clinical skills, thus improving my comfort level in working with patients. I feel as though the experience I gain by working with the UST will largely benefit my future endeavors as a pharmacist in that I will be far advanced in taking a well-rounded multi-disciplinary approach to patient care. In addition, the UST will further enable me to provide improved care for the patients I serve through hands-on clinical problem solving and field experience.
Jesse Onekhena, School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2016
Heather Peterson, Quinnipiac Physician Assistant Program
Willythssa Pierre-Louis, School of Medicine, Class of 2016
Christina Pornprasert, School of Pharmacy, Class of 2014
Background: I was born in Massachusetts and then moved to Connecticut, where I spent the majority of my childhood.
Related experience: During my stay at UConn, I have been both a volunteer and intern for the Husky Nutrition Program, a nutrition education program which promotes positive nutrition messages in urban Hispanic and African American communities. We provided thematic interactive education for families in WIC and Burgdorf clinics and we designed workshops for children in after-school programs and summer camps.
Educating underserved patients about healthy eating habits has solidified my affinity to serve patients who would most benefit from direct patient care in free clinics. Through UST, I hope to share my knowledge of a healthy living, promote health literacy, and use the cultural competency that I have gained by immersing myself with different cultures. Volunteering for UConn’s Husky Nutrition Program intensified my desire to work with the urban community, and UST would allow me to apply this passion to the field of pharmacy, as it is the perfect gateway for me to be a health care resource for underserved patients.
Manas Prasad, School of Pharmacy
Gabriella Pugliese, School of Pharmacy, Class of 2013
Background: I grew up in a small town in central Massachusetts and chose to attend UConn in pursuit of a degree in healthcare, not sure in what direction I would go. Upon completing my bachelor of science in Pharmacy Studies this past spring, I wanted to join the UST to have the opportunity to learn from and work with students in other health professions to provide excellent healthcare to our patients. I hope that being involved with the UST will continue to broaden the skills and perspectives I will need to be a great community pharmacist in the future.
Related experience: In deciding on pre- pharmacy studies and spending time working in a local community pharmacy, I enjoyed interacting daily with patients with a variety of backgrounds and health issues. Serving as an officer in the American Pharmacists Association and working with elderly and underserved populations, I have developed an interest in the management of diabetes, hypertension, heartburn and other common chronic conditions that affect many people.
Upon completing my bachelor of science in Pharmacy Studies this past spring, I wanted to join the UST to have the opportunity to learn from and work with students in other health professions to provide excellent healthcare to our patients. I hope that being involved with the UST will continue to broaden the skills and perspectives I will need to be a great community pharmacist in the future.
Kaitlin Merrow, School of Nursing
Nina Rivera, School of Medicine, Class of 2015
Background: Born and raised in Hartford, Ct, currently residing in Wethersfield. University of Connecticut graduate with a B.A. in English. Yale University graduate with a M.A. in Urban Education Studies and a 6-12 English Teaching Certification.
Related experience: Teacher in New Haven at James Hillhouse High School. Designed and directed tutor outreach program bringing tutors from University of Connecticut Writing Center to Hartford Public High School. Volunteered at Migrant Farm Workers Clinics and Hartford Hospital.
Growing up in Hartford, I became aware at a young age of the many social and economic disparities that exist in our society. This awareness is what first led me into a career in urban education, where I strived to bridge educational gaps for my community of students. In my new venture into the world of medicine, I carry with me a strong sense of responsibility to serve those in our community who have been left behind by America’s health care system. UST provides an avenue through which I hope to gain a breadth of experience serving this important community of patients.
Lisa Ruohoniemi, School of Pharmacy, Class of 2014
Background: Born and raised in Ellicott City, Maryland to Canadian parents. Currently in the second year of pharmacy school; will obtain a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy Studies in the spring of 2012.
Related experience: Worked with UConn’s International Teaching Assistant Program and with FIRN (Columbia, MD) to promote the development of English proficiency skills in ESL speakers. Volunteered with the American Red Cross. Worked at FDA drafting stories for FDA Patient Safety News and participating in a review of patient-controlled anesthesia devices as part of a summer fellowship.
UST drew my attention because of its dedication to underserved populations and its emphasis on collaboration among healthcare professionals. I believe that, as healthcare professionals, we have a responsibility not only to do no harm, but to do as much good for as many people as possible, including those often overlooked by our current healthcare system. As a future pharmacist, I believe this means providing information and a means to access medication and services to those who need it. Additionally, as traditional healthcare expands to integrate different professional tracks, the opportunity to work with students from other professional schools in UST will make us better prepared to meet the needs of a diverse patient body.
Kate Schiff, Quinnipiac Physician Assistant Program
Sonam Sheth, School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2015
Background: I was born in Flushing, NY and moved to Danbury, CT for grade school. I then spent my college years at Boston University, earning a bachelor's degree in Economics.
Related Experience: Boston Univeristy, I participated in a public service program called Peer Health Exchange, in which college students volunteered to provide basic health information to teenagers in the Boston public school system. A rewarding experience, Peer Health Exchange heightened my interest in health care issues.
I am excited to become involved with Urban Service Track, not only to help alleviate health care problems in the community, but also to be able to work together with other health care professions. I look forward to making the most of the unique opportunities that UST and dental school will provide me in the coming years.
Eric Smith, School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2015
I was born and raised in a small town near Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada. I graduated with an Honors Bachelor of Science degree in biophysics and biochemistry from the University of Toronto in June 2011. The socioeconomic disparities which plague society today present a unique challenge to graduates of medical and dental schools across the country, particularly in our current state of economic turmoil where the government is moving further and further away from funding programs to assist the economically disadvantaged. Oral health is oftentimes among the first facets of wellness to be neglected in marginalized populations; meanwhile, it is often the first body system to be adversely affected by the poor lifestyle habits which are so often associated with economic and social poverty. We at the University of Connecticut are extremely fortunate to be attending a school which is widely recognized as having one of the best dental programs in the country. In keeping with the spirit of our unique and community service-focused dental education, I believe that earning a degree from UConn imparts an onus on the graduate to stay actively involved in community outreach throughout that dentist’s career. I hope that my involvement in UST will act as a springboard to help me to establish service of the urban underserved as a staple of my career in dentistry.
Kim Tschetter, Quinnipiac Physician Assistant Program
William Whalen, School of Medicine
Noel Whitman, School of Nursing, Class of 2014
I am a graduate student in the UConn School of Nursing with plans to graduate with my Post Masters certificate in Adult Primary Care in 2012. I grew up in Rocky Hill, Connecticut; went to SUNY-Binghamton and graduated with a BSN. Following that, I graduated from UConn with a Master’s degree in nursing and have worked as an RN in acute, primary and long-term care for several years in various parts of the country. Along the way, I have volunteered for services to meet the needs of high risk teenagers and those with mental health and substance abuse issues. Over the years, I have witnessed the effects of poor health care to underserved populations and those who have limited access to health care. Most recently I have worked with both the elderly and those affected by mental illness and substance abuse issues. These populations have become my areas of interest and concern for serving their health care needs. My goal is to make a difference in the life of these populations so that their lives will be less difficult than what they have known. The mission of UST coincides with my aspirations and I hope to gain experience and impact the lives of others along the way.
Junger Wojciech, School of Nursing
Background: I was born and raised in New Britain, CT in a predominantly Polish community. I attended a Polish catholic school and was taught Polish as my first language. When I was 9 years old, my family moved to Newington. I attended Newington public schools and graduated from Newington High School in 2003. That same year, I began my undergraduate career at Uconn. During my second year as a undergraduate student, I decided to change majors and applied to the School of Nursing. In 2009, I graduated summa cum laude as a baccalaureate prepared nurse. Since graduation, I have enjoyed working as a surgical staff nurse at Uconn Health Center. In 2010, I decided to return to Uconn's School of Nursing and began working toward earning my Master's degree in nursing.
Related Experience: Although I have volunteer experience in my past, such as in the Hospital of Central Connecticut's emergency department or as a hitting coach for Newington High School's Boy's tennis team, UST will be my first extracurricular volunteer experience working with underserved populations of CT.
Working as a nurse in a hospital, I have witnessed the devastating effects of preventable diseases in underprivileged patient populations. Knowing that a disease, hospitalization, or surgery could have been prevented if the patient received proper health screenings and/or early treatment has inspired me to join UST.
Xing Zhu, School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2015
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Last page update: November 17, 2014