Mary-Kate Almeida, MPH, Quinnipiac Physician Assistant Program
I was born in Hope Valley, Rhode Island. I graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2006 with a B.S. in biological sciences and went on to the University of New England to complete my master’s degree in public health in 2009. I divided my time between paid work in health care and volunteerism before beginning my physician assistant education. I worked for a small community hospital and for a town EMS corps. I also ran Angels on Horseback, a non-profit organization that provides therapeutic riding classes to disabled children. After completing my master’s, I also able to intern with the Rhode Island Department of Human Services, working with vulnerable populations to provide them with nutrition and medical assistance. My understanding of medicine has come from two very different perspectives. On one side, I have acquired advanced academic training in aspects of health care covering a range of subjects including basic sciences, epidemiology, social and behavioral health, and health care policy, law and ethics. On the other hand, I have gained a much more tangible experience as a health care worker and patient. For my entire adult life I have been one of the underserved – working part time in hospitals, without health insurance, and taking part in social services like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Being socioeconomically disadvantaged while learning about population health dynamics and working with the underserved all at the same time had a big impact on my understanding of medicine and its societal impact. The distribution of health care across a society is a direct measurement of human rights. When I saw UST, I saw an excellent opportunity to build a collaborative framework in delivering care to all populations, with special attention to those most in need of care. UST promotes relationship-building with future colleagues while developing our understanding of a team-based approach to medicine. It will engrain in all of us a stronger respect for other disciplines in health care. I hope to take what I learn with UST forward in my career as a clinician, and never forget that the best way to improve things for us all is to work together.
Nicole Becker, School of Dental Medicine
Kerin Berger, Quinnipiac Physician Assistant Program
Darren Besse, School of Social Work
Nicole M. Cottle, Quinnipiac University Physician Assistant Program
I grew up in Fruit Heights, Utah, a small town outside of Salt Lake City. I attended both Stevens-Henager College, where I earned an Associate of Science degree in respiratory therapy, and the University of Utah, where I received a B.S. in business administration. I was hired as a respiratory therapist at the University of Utah Hospital, and spent seven great years there working in the medical, surgical, neuro, and burn intensive care units. The last three years I spent at the University of Utah Hospital were some of the most rewarding years of my life. After all, they were like family – I thoroughly enjoyed my colleagues, the patients we cared for, the hard days, and the uplifting days. It solidified my choice to further my career as a Physician Assistant, knowing that I would have many more opportunities to work with some of the greatest people in health care. Outside of my career environment, I have participated in multiple community service opportunities, including being community service chair for the Pi Beta Phi sorority, volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah, and working on a medical mission to Ghana, Africa.
Urban Service Track is my opportunity to take what I have already learned and branch out into a part of medicine that I have never been exposed to. I admire and look forward to working with a group of well-organized individuals that comes to together to provide care for those in underserved communities. I chose to apply and become a part of UST for three main reasons: I have never had the opportunity to work in primary care and this was my opportunity to pursue something I am passionate about, I have shown a strong background in working with the underserved and wanted to continue that while in physician assistant school, and I am very passionate about the Affordable Care Act and feel that UST is a great way to provide access to care for thousands of underserved communities. This was my opportunity to be part of a new movement in America’s health care system.
Daniel Davidson, School of Social Work, Class of 2015
I was born and raised in New York, N.Y. and lived in California and Rhode Island before moving to Hartford, Conn. I received my bachelor’s degree in American civilization from Brown University in Rhode Island. I’ve been a teacher’s assistant for a Brown University course in drug and alcohol addiction, worked in HIV outreach in New York City and am currently doing social work field placement at AIDS Connecticut in Hartford. My education prepared me to take a critical and multidisciplinary approach to solving problems and UST’s interprofessional approach to addressing health care issues resonated with me. I believe the social work component will prove especially important and I look forward to helping to integrate this discipline into the UST program. Social workers are trained to emphasize a broad vision of client care and can help make connections among practitioners. The politically focused macro social worker can assess issues in urban health care delivery from all relevant stakeholders – client, practitioner, community, legislator – propose solutions, and advocate for policy changes.
Rina Desai, School of Medicine, Class of 2017
I was born and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut. I graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2013 with a B.S. in Physiology and Neurobiology.
While at the University of Connecticut, I volunteered at the Windham Heights After School Tutoring Program, a program for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. As a tutor, I had the opportunity to work with a population that was primarily Hispanic and from an impoverished socioeconomic background. In addition to helping the students with their homework, I was also a mentor and role model to them.
By getting involved with the Urban Service Track, I hope to contribute to the UConn School of Medicine community by participating in community service for under-served populations while I learn medicine. UST will help me become more aware of the unique health issues faced by under-served populations and teach me how to direct my energies towards mitigating those unique health issues. I also look forward to working with the inter-professional healthcare team that UST will provide, one that enfolds all the necessary health care actors into a coherent unit.
Heather Dimock, Quinnipiac Physician Assistant Program
Tina Do, School of Pharmacy
Bennett Doughty, School of Pharmacy, Class of 2016
I am from the small town of Winthrop, Maine. I’ve worked as a pharmacy technician at Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, Maine as well as a pharmacy intern for the Hannaford Corporation in Augusta, Maine. With UConn’s chapter of MEDLIFE, I traveled to Lima, Peru and participated in interdisciplinary mobile clinics. I sought involvement with UST in the hopes that I would find myself working among diverse populations after I graduate. I also have a huge desire to work on an interdisciplinary team centered on primary care. Overall, I firmly believe that every patient deserves individualized care, and the views set down by UST align.
Davina Dube, School of Nursing, Class of 2014
I was raised in Bristol, Connecticut. My volunteer experience includes working as a junior volunteer at Bristol Hospital, helping out at the Salvation Army, and completing a nursing student internship at Yale-New Haven Hospital. My work experience includes serving as a personal care assistant, homemaker and companion for the disabled and elderly. Through my volunteer work I have become aware of the impact of being uninsured, underinsured and in poverty. As a junior volunteer at Bristol Hospital it was evident that those who entered the ER were mostly uninsured or underinsured and whose conditions had worsened because they lacked access to primary care. Many of these were former veterans who were coping with PTSD, depression, and other metal illnesses, and who go in and out of the hospital revolving door. I hope to join the Urban Service Track so I can use my experience and my nursing knowledge to provide care to those who lack access to health care. I hope that through the Urban Service Track I can see how health challenges are handled in communities and how services are provided for those that need them.
Abigail Dunlap, School of Nursing, Class of 2015
I was raised in Old Saybrook, Conn. and am currently an undergraduate. I have always loved service, so throughout high school I volunteered at local events within my town. Once in college, I started volunteering at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp which serves children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Recently, I also took a trip to Guatemala to volunteer in an orphanage for abused children. This is where I finally understood the importance of serving the underserved. After my trip, I felt motivated to be an advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. I wanted to be involved in UST to continue learning about the barriers of the medical system and what I can do to help. I am looking forward to helping those inside and outside of our community learn more about the disparities that there are within the health care system and meet with other health care providers who share similar interests.
Joseph Everett, School of Medicine, Class of 2017
I was raised in Columbia, Conn. and graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2013. I began volunteering at the Catholic Worker House in Hartford while in high school. While in college, I volunteered with a number of different organizations including UMass Memorial Hospital in Worcester, MA, Sherry’s House in Worcester, St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, and went on a medical mission trip to Chone, Ecaudor.
For me, involvement in UST means serving the underserved. It is my belief that all people should have access to adequate health care, no matter what type of financial status they hold. UST is in place to close the gap between underserved people and the health care services they need. On a personal level, I believe that my experience in UST will help me expand my clinical skills, while at the same time allow me to connect with individuals who may be different than me. I also believe that I will gain a great deal of understanding and respect for people in communities vastly different than my own.
Karen Flanagan, School of Social Work
Sara Fortin, School of Medicine
I was raised in Snowville, NH, and graduated from Middlebury College with a B.A. in environmental studies. I have volunteered extensively with different service organizations. As a member of the National Civilian Community Corps, I traveled throughout the country completing service projects in disadvantaged communities. With the SCA Massachusetts Parks AmeriCorps Program, I taught a 13-week environmental science curriculum to elementary students and performed trail construction projects. More recently, I volunteered in the emergency department at American Red Cross in Farmington, CT. I currently work in the rehabilitation medicine department at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford.
I joined UST because I hope this experience will better prepare me to work effectively and compassionately with underserved populations. I believe that access to quality health care is a right, not a privilege, and more needs to be done to ensure that everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status can reach that goal. Health care providers need to be better equipped to meet the needs of a population that is becoming increasingly diverse, and one way to do this is through interdisciplinary collaboration. I am excited about the opportunity to interact with students from other health care disciplines and learn how together we can work to improve patient care.
Ryan Gunter, Quinnipiac University Physician Assistant Program
Jennifer Hadra, School of Dental Medicine
Jessica Haggas, Quinnipiac Physician Assistant Program
Tianna L. Hill, School of Social Work, Class of 2014
I was raised in Riviera Beach, Florida and attended Goucher College in Maryland, where I received a B.A. in communications. Through college and beyond, I have volunteered and worked for a number of non-profit agencies. While pursuing my undergraduate degree, I volunteered for four years at the Hampden Family Center in Hampden, MD, where I tutored children from underserved populations. I also volunteered my time at the Village Learning Place in Baltimore, MD, where I was instrumental in developing a program about child behavior called HIP (Help Increase the Peace). These children also came from underserved populations and had at least one parent in the prison system. After completing my undergraduate degree, I worked with at-risk youth involved with the judicial system and worked to successfully integrate these youth back into the community through case management, therapy and community service. I have also worked for a non-profit agency providing case management services to individuals with a mental illness and/or substance abuse disorder.
I sought involvement in the Urban Service Track because I wanted to gain an understanding of how individuals working in other health care fields were serving their clients or patients. I believe it is important for me as a social worker to gain a better perspective about how health care practitioners are monitoring and promoting health to clients who are underserved. I also believe it is equally important to build relationships with other health care professionals to ensure that clients and patients are receiving adequate care. I think integrating the services provided by health care practitioners and social workers is important because it provides wraparound services and gives patients and clients the opportunity to have their needs met on various spectrums.
Kelsey Hutchinson, School of Pharmacy
Theodore Katz, School of Medicine
I was born and raised in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts and graduated from UConn in 2013 with a B.S. in biology. I’ve volunteered as a patient liaison in the Hartford Hospital ER. My time spent volunteering in the inner city at Hartford Hospital truly opened my eyes to the widening disparities in health care and the disastrous effects that result from this inequality. I was able to experience firsthand how the lack of preventive care can cause a severe and negative impact on an individual’s wellbeing. Patients without health insurance would often come into the ER suffering from complications of conditions that could have been easily avoided if they’d had access to a primary care physician. Repeatedly witnessing these moments of unnecessary suffering eventually inspired me to pursue a career practicing medicine in the inner city.
As a member of the Urban Service Track, I hope to increase my understanding of the complexities involved in delivering quality health care to urban underserved populations. The aspect of UST that most appealed to me was the opportunity to volunteer at shelters and clinics around Hartford. As our country hopefully moves towards accepting the belief that health care is a right, rather than a privilege, I look forward to gaining valuable clinical exposure and experience as a member of the Urban Service Track.
Jaclyn Krawiec, Quinnipiac Physician Assistant Program
Heather Kutzler, School of Pharmacy
Himanayani Mamillapalli, School of Medicine
Elizabeth Martin, School of Nursing
David Moise, School of Medicine
Cléa Moore, School of Medicine
I was born in Barbados and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. As long as I can remember, I’ve been deliberating about my career – wondering whether I should be a teacher, accountant, or doctor. Though I graduated from Oakwood University in Alabama in 2013 with a major in biology, I only made the definite decision to become a physician when I joined a nonprofit volunteer organization called The National Association for the Prevention of Starvation. After performing various volunteer efforts in places otherwise gone unnoticed, I couldn’t envision myself doing anything else but traveling the world helping those in need. With my upbringing in Barbados and Brooklyn, my exposure to diverse cultures has helped me facilitate an attitude that would be able to help not only abroad but in local communities that need it most. With the assistance of UST, I believe the skills and opportunities given to me will increase my fitness to be of fine service to the communities that have always been home.
Fludiona Naka, School of Medicine
Kiranpreet Narain, School of Dental Medicine
Andrew Oliver, School of Medicine, Class of 2017
I grew up in Charlestown, Rhode Island before getting my Bachelors of Science at the University of Vermont in Biology.
From August 2011 until May 2012, I lived in the Dominican Republic, where I volunteered with a local health non-profit called Health Horizons International. As part of this organization, I helped impoverished people who lived in the surrounding communities receive the health care they so desperately needed. I served as a patient advocate and case manager for my patients and helped them gain access to the local health care system. Additionally, I oversaw each patient’s treatment regimens and educated them about their diagnosed health conditions in hopes of seeing better health outcomes and creating a more informed patient population.
I was immediately drawn to UST when I learned of the interprofessional environment fostered by UST that would allow me to work with students from a wide range of health specialties. I believe that working as a cohesive, integrated team of health care professionals is an effective way to increase the quality of care that we can deliver to our patients. I am also very interested in the access to the extra clinical and volunteer opportunities offered by UST, which will help me to better understand how the clinical and biological procedures I learned in the classroom are carried out in the real world, in real communities.
Alexis Oseiwusu, School of Nursing
Ledjo Palo, School of Dental Medicine
I was born and raised in Korce, Albania, and at the age of 15 moved to Waterbury, Conn. I obtained a B.S. degree in molecular and cell biology from UConn in 2012. Most of my volunteer experiences have been in Waterbury and neighboring towns, where I visited local soup kitchens and helped prepare and distribute food to the needy. On occasion, I was one of the students appointed to go into local elementary schools to demonstrate and teach proper hygiene and oral hygiene habits to the students, most of whom came from low-income and non-English speaking communities.
I sought involvement in the Urban Service Track because I thought it was appropriate for me to give back to communities like the one I came from in whatever way I can. I’ve seen and experienced firsthand what an impact the lack of proper education and care – especially oral care – can have on a person, and I hope that with the help of UST I can educate and provide care to some of the people who need it most. Our economic system is in a dire situation, and the number of needy people is increasing every day. Each and every day more and more people gamble with their health in order to obtain enough resources to get by. I strongly believe that whatever we as students, and in the future as practitioners, can do for the health of the underserved will impact the entire community in a positive manner.
Saagar Pandit, School of Medicine
Shalin Patel, School of Dental Medicine
I was born in India and raised in Amherst, Mass. I graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a B.A. in biology. Previously, I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and the Sterile Supply Unit at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Mass. While growing up, I had many friends from underserved communities who had a difficult time accessing quality, affordable health care. This was my major motivation for joining UST. Through this experience, I want to be able to understand the public health aspect of achieving health care coverage in underserved communities, and how to gradually change the underlying problems. I am also looking forward to working with students from the other professional schools, and being able to observe the inter-professional dynamics. I think that all of these experiences will further enhance my perspective on not only delivering accessible health care to underprivileged communities, but also allow me to gain an appreciation for the logistics behind solving a complex issue.
Alicia Rozkuszka, School of Pharmacy
I was born and raised in the small town of Ware, Massachusetts. I first became interested in dedicating a portion of my life to helping the underserved when I went on an alternative break trip to Niceville, Fla. to help those affected by the Gulf Oil Spill. I am also annually involved in HuskyTHON, a 24 hour dance marathon that raises money for the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center so that it can continue to provide exceptional care for patients, whether or not families have the ability to pay. I believe in what CCMC does and that health care should be available to everyone. This is one of the main reasons I chose to join UST. Health care shouldn’t be accessible for some but not others, in any circumstance. I want to be actively involved in making it more attainable for those who can’t afford it. I don’t know what it’s like to be part of an underserved population, but I do know that I want to help those who are. I’m lucky to have the opportunity to attend college and aspire to be a pharmacist, and I feel like it’s my duty to use what I learn to better the lives of others. I’m eager to work with other health care professionals and learn how to provide the best patient care to populations that are otherwise neglected by our health care system.
Cyrus Safizadeh, School of Dental Medicine
I was raised in Cambridge, Mass., and graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with a B.S. in environmental sciences and economics in 2009. As a volunteer, I served as a homework mentor for the Cambridge Public Schools from 2009 to 2011. Internationally, I volunteered with the Iranian Pediatric Dentistry Association during the summers of 2008, 2009, 2013. The main reason compelling me to join UST was the program’s dedication to providing health care services to underserved populations. Growing up in an urban setting has exposed me to the gross deficiencies of our health care system in addressing the health needs of the underserved. This is especially true in the field of dentistry where in urban settings the problem is not a deficiency in the number of dentists but the fact that most dentists simply do not accept Medicaid or many of the inexpensive insurance plans available. I believe these problems need to be addressed both on a political level and on the front lines. Given UST’s close involvement with the community and its wide range of services offered – from Brushing Bunny to its dedication to working with the elderly – there could not be a better program for me. For me it is a great privilege to be able to give back to the community and I am very excited to participate in the many programs UST offers to the public.
Amanda Savath, School of Pharmacy
Valentina Savath, School of Dental Medicine
I was raised in Bristol, Conn. I attended Yale as a first generation college student, graduating with a B.S. in biology in 2011. At HAVEN Free Clinic, I served as Spanish-speaking volunteer in the education department. HAVEN is a primary care clinic serving New Haven’s uninsured residents, unique in that it is a multi-disciplinary student-run clinic that includes the Yale schools of medicine, nursing, physician associate, public health, and undergraduates. I learned what it was like to counsel patients with limited resources and how health disparities impact health. Although I focused on medical issues at HAVEN, I observed that oral health is often left out of the health disparity conversation. It became important to me to find ways of addressing oral health care disparities in primary care clinics similar to HAVEN. In a country that’s becoming more ethnically diverse, I also learned that cultural sensitivity and effective communication will become indispensable attributes of future dentists. One of the most exciting aspects of volunteering at HAVEN was the unique multi-disciplinary nature of the clinic. The education department communicated often with students on the medical teams to coordinate education topics. Our own department was diverse, made up of nursing students, medical students, and undergraduates. Each brought a different perspective clinically and personally, allowing us to teach and learn from each other. I have also participated in the executive board of the Social Justice Network and Yale Gen-Act (anti-genocide advocacy group) and volunteered in an orphanage in Bangkok, Thailand. Becoming a health scholar would help me utilize my volunteering experiences and gain exposure and training in a way that would help me effectively and compassionately serve urban and underserved patients who need health care. Although we know oral health care is essential for overall health, gains in improving oral health disparity are still lagging behind those in medicine, especially in these populations. I hope to bring to UST lessons and enthusiasm I have for advocating for diverse underserved populations and decreasing health disparities. Applying what I have learned from serving in my social justice and community service roles, I hope to connect my past with future aspirations in order to provide excellent interdisciplinary team-based health care for underserved populations.
Nicole Seymour, School of Social Work
Neda Shahriari, School of Medicine
Crystal Shaw, School of Pharmacy, Class of 2015
I grew up all over New England, but I spent most of my childhood in Merrimack, New Hampshire. I obtained my B.S. in Pharmacy Studies in the spring of 2013, and I will graduate with my Pharm.D degree in spring of 2015.
As a member of the student board at the South Park Clinic, a program run by medical students that provides free health care clinics to the homeless in Hartford, I saw health disparities first-hand. As part of these clinics, I've directly experienced how my knowledge as a pharmacy student can have an impact on people’s lives. UST will provide me the opportunity to learn how I can better serve this population by working closely with my fellow health care students and providers.
Since my teenage years, I have lived amongst many different cultures and peoples from across a board spectrum of socioeconomic backgrounds. My most memorable experience came during my year living in New Mexico, near a Navajo Indian reservation. I learned that being part of a unique culture often meant inferior access to crucial services, especially in terms of healthcare. As I am progressing through my studies, I hope to give back to the people that have shaped my childhood and who I will eventually serve as a healthcare professional. Being a UST scholar will grant me access to the tools, networks, and interdisciplinary knowledge of the healthcare field needed to help me best serve at-risk populations.
Elizabeth Sherman, Quinnipiac Physician Assistant Program
I grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and went to college at Michigan State University, where I received my bachelor’s degree in journalism. After graduation I moved to California and then to Utah where I spent five years working seasonally as a Ski Patrol EMT and on Yosemite Search and Rescue in Yosemite National Park. After working as an EMT for many years I decided that I wanted to go to PA School. I started taking prerequisite classes and at the same time worked as an ER Tech in the University of Utah Hospital Emergency Department. During this time I also volunteered at an OB free clinic and was a volunteer ski coach. I did this for three years until I was able to apply to physician assistant school. Being a part of UST is very exciting to me for few reasons. First, it is an amazing opportunity to learn more about what is currently happening in the field of primary care. With the health care reform bill and big changes happening in health care, I feel that UST is an amazing organization to be a part of, so as to stay on top of the changes. I also feel that it will be an amazing opportunity to learn how to be a better patient advocate as well as how to better provide community medicine and health education in a primary care setting. I know through my experience that teamwork with other professions in health care is critical in managing, treating and effectively taking care of patients. During my time in the ER, I worked very closely with case managers, crisis workers, pharmacists, doctors and nurses, even dental residents, who all worked collaboratively to take care of people. Modern medicine doesn’t function without all of the health care roles. The ability to network and bounce ideas off of people of different trainings, experience and backgrounds adds new perspective and insight to patient care, medicine and the entire health care field.
Chirag Sheth, School of Medicine
Raised in Greenwich, Conn., I attended UConn and obtained a B.S. in kinesiology with a concentration in exercise science in 2012. While growing up in Greenwich and going to college I volunteered for different organizations to gain experience. I volunteered for American Red Cross, Greenwich EMS, Hartford Hospital, and other organizations. I also worked for various companies such as New York Sports Club, Greenwich Hospital, and CSI-Greenwich Neurosurgery. Working for Greenwich Hospital I was able to gain exposure to different groups of patients and how their backgrounds impacted their understanding of the care that they were getting and were entitled to. I also learned how important it was to work as a team and unit. This is something I hope to practice and learn more about when I take part in UST activities. I feel that when we, as health care providers, work as a unit it allows us to optimize our care for the patient. I look forward to working with my fellow classmates and colleagues from other professional schools.
Julia Thayer, School of Pharmacy
Huong "Heather" Truong, School of Pharmacy
I was born in a small town in Vietnam and moved to the United States with my family when I was 11 years old. After arriving, my family lived in Hartford, where my parents worked hard to buy our home in West Hartford, Conn. I received my B.S. from the School of Pharmacy at UConn. During my pre-pharmacy years, I was very involved with the American Cancer Society, helping the organization with walkathons and runs throughout Connecticut. In addition, I spent my summers volunteering at a nursing home in Hartford, where I learned more about special care for the geriatric population. Currently, I am a pharmacy board member at the South Park Clinic, where we focus on providing care for the homeless population of Hartford. I am also a board member on the National Primary Care Week Committee; with this organization I am able to lead a few of the health care events and help in organizing their annual banquet. When I heard about the Urban Service Track, I knew right away that I would want to be a part of this organization. I have had personal experience being a part of the underserved population during my first few years living in Connecticut. With that experience comes understanding of the basic needs and care that the underserved population need but are deprived of due to several different barriers. With UST, not only do I want to give back to the community but I also hope to further develop my skills of caring for underserved populations. I also want to experience the rare opportunity during my education to work within a collaborative setting with other health care students, to better prepare me to pursue my future residency.
Pooja Uppalapati, School of Medicine
I was born in Hyderabad, India but have grown up in Stamford/Milford Conn. I graduated from UConn in 2012 with a B.S. in biological sciences and took a gap year before medical school. In 2012 I volunteered as a research assistant with the Yale School of Public Health through the CT Women’s Health Project (teen pregnancy prevention) and CARE (obesity prevention). I took a gap year after college partly because I wanted to work directly with people instead of sitting in class. I developed an intense interest in women’s rights and reproductive justice. Although women are not usually thought of as an underserved population, women of all races and cultures face hardships that their male counterparts might not. Many women have trouble gaining access to education, child care, and health care. A huge gap in sexual education and family planning resources can also lead to significant mental, physical, and financial stresses on women and the community. A great way to help women is through societal supports and access to health care. I would love to see women be able to use health care facilities more often for important tests like annual pap smears, STI tests, and mammograms. My time at the YSPH also showed me how important education can be as a preventive measure. Children can learn healthy practices to prevent obesity, and we can decrease the number of teen pregnancies through education and access to family planning. There is a high correlation between health and education and one should never be considered without the other. Hopefully, with UST, I can learn how to turn my ideas into programs and initiatives that eventually give all my patients and the community opportunities to learn how to pursue healthy lifestyles.
Lisa Vallee, School of Social Work
I was raised in Farmington, Conn., and attended Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., receiving a bachelor’s degree in English with minors in psychology and sociology. I spent three years working – and countless more volunteering – for the American Cancer Society, which advocates for the rights of cancer patients and their families. I’ve also volunteered with an urban domestic violence shelter, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and activist groups such as Campus Action and the Women’s Union. I was drawn to the Urban Service track because of my interest in pursuing a social work career in the health care field. I think it’s important in medical social work to understand the roles of the numerous professionals who are a part of the client’s care. Working on an interdisciplinary team with the UST will provide different perspectives on health care, and allow me to learn more about disease prevention, health equity, and access to care. As an MSW student, I hope to work in support of human rights, work against oppression and discrimination, and alleviate the effects of violence and poverty in urban areas. Community service has always been an important part of my life – I volunteered at the UConn Health Center during summers as a teenager –and I’m excited for the service opportunities that the UST has to offer.
Timothea Vo, School of Nursing
I was raised in Cos Cob and Norwalk, Conn. by my parents, who
immigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam shortly before I was born. My family was sponsored by the Greenwich Christ Church to help us transition more easily to American life. I did community service work in high school, then at UConn connected with certain nursing and health care-related clubs and organizations that led me to the forefront of student nursing leadership. I’ve volunteered with the UConn American Red Cross Club, UConn Healthcare Simulation Society, and UConn Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), the American Nurses Association (ANA) and UConn Student Nurses Association (SNA), where I made frequent visits to the Mansfield Nursing Home to spend time with the elderly. I’ve also been publicity manager for Sigma Theta Alpha, UConn’s first pre-health co-ed fraternity, which hosts and participates in a number of charitable events, and volunteered at The Norwalk Hospital, assisting physical and occupational therapy patients at outpatient settings in rehabilitation services, and occupational health services. I sought involvement in UST because I wanted to serve my community in a greater way. As I carry my UST experiences with me into my profession as a nurse, I am confident that UST will have made me become a more attuned nurse to the state of health care and its problems that need fixing. I will have witnessed and communicated with individuals who may have expressed health care concerns and will be able to channel these queries back to political spheres. More importantly, UST will help shape my nursing care in the future because the interprofessional conversation taking place in UST will only continue like a ripple for many years to come.
Keelin Walsh, Quinnipiac Physician Assistant Program
I was born and raised in Norwalk, Conn., and graduated from Quinnipiac University in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in health and science studies. One of the reasons I decided to join UST was because I am very interested in primary care and helping underserved populations. I have always felt the need to do community service and help those who may not receive proper care. I have volunteered at a migrant farm teaching ESL, a soup kitchen, homeless shelter for mothers and their children, and I have been a mentor to underserved populations. I have also worked as a technician at Stamford Hospital in the ER. I would like to begin to help make a difference in disadvantaged communities by providing as much as I can to these people. I also chose to join UST because I have a great interest in learning more about how the health care system works and what I can do as a PA to better the health care system. Lastly, I think it will be very beneficial to work with other health care professionals and learn from them about what they do. I feel that collaborating with other health care professionals will truly improve patient care. My experience with UST will help me make a difference as a PA and in health care in general because I will learn the importance both of serving the underserved and of interprofessional relationships. I hope I am able to be an example for other people working in health care to realize the importance of being an advocate for the underserved and of working as a collaborative health care team to provide the best quality care to patients.
Victor Wang, School of Dental Medicine
Alexander Werne, School of Medicine, Class of 2017
I was born and raised in Hollis, New Hampshire. I received my degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Connecticut in 2013.
I have volunteered with numerous programs around the state through Urban Service Track including Smiling Seniors, Hartford Nutrition Initiative and Primary Care Week. I also have the pleasure of serving as a co-lead for the Biomedical Engineering Program sponsored by UST, which provides underserved kids in the Hartford area with the opportunity to build robotic arms and gain experience working in a group. Outside of UST, I often volunteer with UConn's Pediatric Clinics and the Hematology/Oncology floor at CCMC.
I joined UST in order to learn from the interdisciplinary environment it fosters, as well as to give back to the Hartford underserved community alongside other UConn students. Healthcare is an evolving field that demands the ability to work with all types of healthcare professionals, and UST has provided me with the necessary skills in order to succeed as a physician.
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