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2017 NACHC Application
UST Scholar Network
Faith Adewusi - School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2018
I was born and raised in Oyo State, Nigeria. I graduated from University of Rhode Island with a B.S. in Medical Laboratory Science in 2010.
Previously, I worked at North Carolina Missions of Mercy where I assisted in organizing and handing out appropriate dental instruments to dental professionals while maintaining a sterile environment, as well as patient administration.
As a member of Habitat for Humanity, I spent my college spring break in 2009 in Birmingham, Alabama helping with the construction of houses for families with low income. I also volunteered with Habitat in Rhode Island and in North Carolina. Finally, as a Service-Learning Mentor at the Alan Feinstein Center for Service Learning at University of Rhode Island, I directed university students in making pillows and sock animals for donation to children diagnosed with cancer at the Hasbro Children’s Hospital, in Providence, RI,
My experiences thus far have reinforced my interest in becoming an exceptional dentist, one deeply committed to my community. As a dentist, my goal is to be able to provide counseling, education and quality care to low-income individuals and families in underserved communities. I strongly believe that Urban Service Track is a unique service learning opportunity that will serve as great preparation for fulfilling my goal. Further, I believe that providing quality healthcare is not the job of just the doctor. It involves many professionals working in concert. By working with scholars from other health professions, I will begin to hone my ability to work and to communicate well with other members of the healthcare team.
Cayla Allard - Quinnipiac Physician Assistant Program, Class of 2016
I was born and raised in Chicopee, Massachusetts, just outside of Springfield. I attended Framingham State University and graduated in 2012 with a B.S. in Biology, Pre-Professional Studies. During my undergrad, my advisor and I formed a club called Aspiring Health Professionals in order to raise student awareness about resources for becoming a health professional. During my time in the club, I developed an interest in becoming a physician assistant. After graduation, I worked as a pharmacy technician in Springfield, Massachusetts for several months before joining a small family practice on the clinical team. Within a year, I worked my way up to Clinical Manager, where I assisted in minor procedures. I really enjoyed the practice's approach to healthcare, which was to care for both the physical and mental well-being of patients in a domestic, homey environment.
I was immediately drawn to the Urban Service Track's mission, a mission similar to that of the Quinnipiac medical program: to increase access to quality health care through both the education doctors and patients and the development of relations between doctors and their communities. I believe it's important for health care to be accessible to anyone, which I believe can be accomplished by applying the sort of community and health care knowledge UST provides. I look forward to using both the skills I learned at Quinnipiac and the skills I will learn at UST in order to become a caring, effective physician's assistant.
Alison Blackman - School of Pharmacy
I wanted to help people. Previously, I was involved in the UCONN Collegiate Health Service Corps, a program similar to UST, which is made up of students interested in going into healthcare and helping underserved populations. My team was assigned to a farm site where we discussed health topics of interest to the farmworkers. This experience solidified my preexisting interest in helping the underserved.
I currently work as a pharmacy intern at CVS/Pharmacy as well as an inpatient pharmacy technician at the VA in West Haven, CT. My favorite aspect of these jobs is talking with the patients and seeing a positive impact I can have on their lives by even providing modest amounts of healthcare information. However, I often find myself learning more from my patients than I can teach them. Based off my experiences, I've come to believe health care should be a team approach with the patient being the main focus. I also have come to believe that a person’s socioeconomic status should not be a factor in receiving the best possible health care. I look forward to my experiences in the Urban Service Track as I know they will help me in becoming the best health care professional I can be, but, more importantly, the best person I can be.
Patricia Bowen - School of Social Work
Lauren Branche - School of Medicine, Class of 2018
I am from New Rochelle, New York. I received a Bachelors of Science in Psychology from Tufts University in 2010 and a Masters in Biomedical Sciences from Tufts University School of Medicine in 2013. As a woman of African American and West Indian heritage coming from a financially strained background, I have a deep connection with marginalized populations. Because of this connection, I have sought out experiences that allow me to advocate for disadvantaged groups. In college, I organized service trips to local food banks and discussions regarding health disparities within the Africana community. I also participated in a medical relief trip to the Dominican Republic to aid Haitian refugees there. After college, I volunteered at Montefiore Medical Center Emergency Department, one of the most diverse and active ERs in the country. I worked as a phlebotomist at an LGBT HIV specialty practice and I continue to mentor minority pre-health students. It is my life’s ambition to promote education, awareness, and empowerment in an effort to break down the socioeconomic, racial, and cultural barriers to equal treatment. The Urban Service Track will provide me with the opportunity to give back while I receive my medical education and improve my ability to advocate for those most in need. In addition, learning with an interdisciplinary group will establish an innate understanding of how each profession can contribute to improving the quality of care, and in turn, the health outcomes of disadvantaged populations.
Chrismine Brun - School of Nursing, Class of 2016
I was born and raised in Stamford, CT. Coming from a strong Haitian background, I combined my American culture along with my fluency in Haitian-Creole to volunteer at a community church youth group program in my hometown. My volunteer work not only included teaching choreography to those who loved to dance, but to also providing lower income adults with affordable extracurricular activities for themselves and their children. Through my work, I also educated young people on how to stay healthy mentally, physically, and emotionally via stress mechanisms, dancing sessions, and meditation.
I sought involvement in UST because it will provide me the opportunity not only to give back to a specific community, but also to put my knowledge of health care into practice. Although the experience with UST will strengthen my skills in providing health care services through practice, the biggest impact the program will have will be the knowledge that I have helped an underserved population access health care and health care information when most times they cannot. Although I wish to be an APRN in Family Medicine, I believe prevention is more crucial than treatment. While it is important to focus on individual health outcomes, making a difference within an entire community sets up a brighter future in health status in later generations if the efforts continue.
Trishanna Bunsie - School of Nursing, Class of 2016
I was born in Jamaica, and came to the United States when I was two years old. I lived in Connecticut for majority of my life. I’m currently an undergraduate student at UConn, on track to obtain a degree in Nursing. I’ve volunteered at various nursing homes, where I developed strong relationships with the residents. I’m a part of the Student Nursing Association as well as of Build On, an organization that raises money to help build schools in third world countries.
I expect my experience with the Urban Service Track will help me understand the circumstances and the limitations that underserved people must contend with. In addition to valuable nursing skills, the program will also provide insight into ways to help these individuals make the best out of their situation in order to maintain their health. Finally, my time in UST will help me better advocate for populations that are underserved and create effective and rational methods of preventive care.
Esther Chow - Quinnipiac Physician Assistant Program, Class of 2016
I was born in Texas and raised in Cheshire, Connecticut. I graduated from Quinnipiac University with a Bachelor’s in Health Sciences.
Previously, I have volunteered in a retirement community, worked as a PCA, and worked as a chiropractic assistant. I believe that primary care is the bedrock for an effective, reliable, and efficient healthcare system, and further that primary care can provide important services to help patients focus on things that matter most to them. I believe that my experience with UST will allow me to help empower those in medically underserved communities to see the importance of maintaining their health. Healthcare is a basic human right and I hope that my experiences with UST will help me educate others to believe the same.
Alexis Cordone - School of Medicine, Class of 2018
I grew up in Terryville, Connecticut and graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2014, where I obtained a dual degree: a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and a Bachelor of Science in Biology. Prior to matriculating at medical school, I volunteered as an Emergency Medical Technician for several years at Plymouth Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
I became involved in the Urban Service Track because my experiences as an EMT exposed me to many of the disparities in our health care delivery system. I aspire to help bring care to anyone who needs it, especially those who are marginalized or neglected by healthcare and other socio-economic institutions. Additionally, I found herself inspired by the educational component of many of the Urban Service Track's outreach activities because I believe that improving health literacy is an important part of improving a population's health. It is vital for a person's health that they are an equal, active partner in their health's upkeep, rather than a passive patient utterly reliant on her doctor.
Brooke Cunningham - School of Medicine, Class of 2018
I was born and raised in West Hartford, CT. I graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 2013 with a B.A. in Spanish, and a minor in chemistry. I spent my entire junior year studying abroad in the small city of León in the north of Spain. Studying abroad while in college was important to me, not only for providing experience living in and understanding other cultures, but also for improving my confidence in using Spanish, an important skill for communicating with a diverse set of patients.
During my three years on campus, I volunteered each Friday evening at a youth group in Worcester, MA, through the group: Student Programs for Urban Development (SPUD). I was also the youth group's program director for two years. SPUD provided many opportunities for interactions with the children, teenagers, and parents in the youth group, where I learned about the struggles faced by different urban populations.
As a part of the UST I hope to learn how to better serve the urban population as a physician. Healthcare access is often viewed as a privilege in the world today; I strongly believe that every person, regardless of their cultural background, socioeconomic situation, or religious belief, has an equal right for healthcare. As a UST Scholar, I look forward to collaborating with other healthcare professionals to learn how we can work together to help improve healthcare for urban underserved populations.
Donna Cupka - School of Social Work, Class of 2016
Born and raised in Connecticut, I grew up in New Britain, and obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Eastern Connecticut State University and a Master’s Degree in Community Counseling from the University of Saint Joseph.
A recent retiree from state service, I worked for 24 years with the Department of Correction, as a counselor, supervisor, and project manager. As the department's re-entry coordinator, I was heavily involved with organizing both service and provider partnerships to facilitate offenders’ transitions from prison to community. I hope to continue working with this population from the community side, and hope to utilize the opportunities offered by the Urban Service Track as a forum in which to expand my skill sets and develop new partnerships.
Shurui Dai - School of Pharmacy, Class of 2016
I was born in China and moved to Storrs, Connecticut when I was eight years old, where I have lived ever since. I am working towards a doctor’s degree in Pharmacy in order to pursue a career as a pharmacist. Throughout my college career I volunteered with various organizations at UConn Storrs and in Windham Hospital, and also participated in an alternative spring break to Dungannon, Virginia.
I currently work as a pharmacy intern in a retail setting where I interact with the public on a daily basis. I wanted to become involved with the Urban Service Track because I knew this program pushes students to think outside the box and to become better health care professionals for our communities. I am confident my time in UST will help me become more comfortable interacting with my future patients as well as with my future colleagues.
Nicole Davoren - School of Pharmacy - Class of 2017
I was born in Hartford, Connecticut and moved to South Windsor, Connecticut five years later, where I spent the majority of my life. In high school I visited Managua, Nicaragua on a Mission Trip. Ever since then, I have been interested in working with underserved populations. At UConn, I became very involved in the Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society and am currently the Vice President, from which position I have helped organize the society's many community service initiatives. We participate in many community service activities such as Red Cross Blood Drives, Relay for Life, and HuskyTHON, and each semester we hold a large fundraising event to support a community or healthcare organization in need. As a pharmacy intern at Walgreens, I enjoy working closely with the public and striving to provide them with the optimal level of care. I am interested in joining the Urban Service Track in order to positively impact the lives of those in underserved populations and to work in an interprofessional team with students from other healthcare and associated fields. Becoming an Urban Health Scholar will help me to learn valuable skills I will need as a pharmacist and to realize my goal of providing health care and community services to underserved populations.
Teresa DeMichele - School of Social Work, Class of 2016
I was born in Peru and immigrated to the United States at the age of six, where I grew up in Waterbury, Connecticut. I attended Western Connecticut State University where I received a Bachelor of Science in Justice & Law Administration, with a concentration in Offender Rehabilitation.
I have a wide range of volunteer and work experiences, particularly with underserved populations. I have volunteered and worked with agencies such as the Judicial Branch Adult Probation and the Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services, whose clients are chiefly individuals from urban settings. These experiences exposed me to the reality that an individual’s mental health status, substance use problems, and legal status can negatively impact their physical health.
My interest in the Urban Service Track stems from my desire to learn more about the extensive health disparities present in those living in urban communities and how to reduce those disparities. I hope my experiences in UST will help me become a strong social advocate for individuals receiving healthcare services. I also believe in the importance of interagency communication between social service agencies and healthcare agencies so that the biopsychosocial needs of clients are effectively met. I am honored to be a part of UST's effort to establish effective lines of communication between all the groups involved in healthcare.
Jocelyn Early - Quinnipiac Physician Assistant Program, Class of 2016
I was born in Monterey, CA. My family moved to Olympia, WA when I was four years old. I grew up in Olympia and graduated from Olympia High School. I then went to Washington State University and graduated with honors with a B.S. in Molecular Genetics and Cell Biotechnology. For the past nine years I have worked in infertility while spending my free time volunteering with the GLBT community, as well as volunteering with children in underserved populations to encourage them to pursue an education in STEM fields.
I am seeking involvement with UST so that I can better serve my future patients. I hope to deliver high quality health care to those that need it, but I also hope to involve myself with improving the healthcare system in which physicians and other health professionals provide that care. I believe proper and consistent healthcare is something that every person deserves.
Andrew Emery - School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2018
I was born in Augusta, Maine, and was raised in Winthrop, Maine. In 2014, I graduated from the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine with a Bachelors of Science in Medical Biology.
As a student at the University of New England, I served as president of the University's International Medical Missions Club, and led a 20-person medical mission Ecuador. I also completed community service work in Guatemala and took a Global Citizenship trip to Peru. In the United States, I volunteered as an emergency medical technician and worked as a pharmacy technician at Rite Aid. Last summer, I worked as a research fellow in the University of New England's Center for Excellence in the Neuroscience Summer Internship Program. During this internship, I gained experience using Corning Incorporated's High Throughput Screening System to test known drugs against mammalian cell lines.
I am pursuing the Urban Service Track because it promises to foster vital interprofessional relationships and improve patient care for the underserved. With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, dentistry has often been seen as a marginal aspect of overall healthcare. My goal is to find ways to bring dental care to the forefront of healthcare discussions, because overall health cannot be attained without attention to oral health. As a UST scholar, I will grow in my understanding of other health professions and of how to incorporate dental care into a wider program of healthcare.
Jason Funaro - School of Pharmacy, Class of 2017
I grew up in the small town of Killingworth, Connecticut. I currently work as a Pharmacy Intern at the Veteran's Affairs hospital in West Haven, Connecticut.
My time at UConn has helped me realize my love for both the field of pharmacy and increased my desire to work with underserved populations. My prior involvement with the Boy Scouts of America has provided me with experience helping underserved populations through service projects for my town's local food pantry. I have also worked with UConn's branch of Big Brothers Big Sisters to help mentor at-risk youth from the areas around Storrs. I want to join the Urban Service Track because it fulfils my ambition to continue working with underserved populations while augmenting my ability to help by being a part of an interdisciplinary team. I believe a collaborative approach among all the disciplines and agencies involved with healthcare is essential to ensure the best outcomes and individualized care for all patients, and this is the kind of approach I hope to become familiar with at UST.
Nora Gibson - School of Medicine
I was born in Santa Monica, California in 1990, and I moved to Hamden, Connecticut in 1995. I lived in Hamden until I was twelve, then moved to Trumbull. I attended American University where I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Spanish Language in 2012. In college, I worked for the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) in Washington, D.C., an organization dedicated to providing education and resources to Latino children and families. I taught reading and math skills to middle-school-aged children who were struggling academically. These students lived in environments hampered by drugs and violence, which contributed to their academic difficulties. From this experience, I gained a greater understanding of the struggles marginalized groups often face. My experience at the LAYC encouraged me to study abroad to improve my Spanish. I studied in Madrid, Spain, where I volunteered at an elementary school teaching English. My language skills have since proved an invaluable resource in connecting with people from diverse backgrounds.
I chose to apply to the Urban Service Track because I feel that community outreach is one of the most important responsibilities I have as a future physician. Urban areas are vitally important in bringing people together to generate new ideas and to celebrate diverse cultures. I hope to reach out to underserved people in urban areas to ensure that they receive the high level of care they deserve.
Gina Guimond - Quinnipiac Physician Assistant Program, Class of 2016
I was born and raised in Pelham, a small suburban town in southern New Hampshire. I was enrolled in the public school system there until I moved to Boston, Massachusetts for my undergraduate studies at Northeastern University. There, in addition to minoring in psychology, I studied Health Sciences in the Bouvé College of Health Sciences. In May of 2014, I graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Sciences.
During my time at Northeastern University, I worked in my community with underserved populations of the greater Boston area. Additionally, I worked with a diverse range of patients in three major Boston hospitals. These new experiences opened my eyes as to how different patient populations require different medical approaches. I admire how clinicians adapt their practice to meet the needs of the patients, and how this leads to better patient outcomes and satisfaction. My time in Boston piqued my interest in the Urban Service Track and its focus on interprofessionalism in primary care. I hope to return to Boston, MA and to join fellow clinicians in providing healthcare to that city's underserved populations. By joining UST as a student, I hope to learn more ways of providing exceptional and fitting medical care to underserved populations with other future clinicians.
Linda Hoang - School of Nursing, Class of 2016
I was born in Hartford, CT. and was raised in Hartford for five years and West Hartford for sixteen years. I have volunteered at a soup kitchen and I currently work at a CVS pharmacy visited predominately by ethnic minorities. I have an interest in being involved with the Urban Service Track because I want to help people have a better sense of self and self-esteem. I strongly believe that being involved in UST will enable me to make a difference in peoples’ lives not only medically but also mentally. Being financially unstable, an immigrant, or underprivileged are all very stressful situations but through my involvement in UST, I hope I will have the chance to provide to those in such situations with sufficient and humane healthcare.
Johnny Joseph - School of Dental Medicine
Erin Kalla - School of Medicine, Class of 2018
I was born in Norwich, CT and spent most of my childhood in West Hartford, CT. I received a Bachelor of Arts in 2009 from Oberlin College, where I double majored in East Asian Studies and Music Theory & History. I completed a pre-health program in 2013 at the University of Pennsylvania.
I have clinical experience providing reproductive health care to underserved women and men in Cleveland and New York City. Many of these patients were uninsured, and had no regular access to preventative health care. I witnessed countless unintended pregnancies and rampant sexually transmitted infections. While living in Philadelphia, I worked as a research assistant at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where I enrolled critically ill children in a study investigating antibiotic use in the ICU. Through both of these experiences in providing healthcare, I learned the critical importance of establishing trust between the provider and the patient. To this end, I hope to work as an advocate not just for my future patients, but for the communities in which they live. Currently, I work in an administrative role supporting community health programs at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
I was immediately drawn to the UST when considering UConn because it aligned so well with what I hope to learn as a medical student. As much as I want to learn how to diagnosis and treat illnesses, I also want to learn how to interact with, understand and show compassion for the patients I will serve.
Julia Karpman - School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2018
I was born in Syracuse, New York and raised in Marlborough, Connecticut. I Attended the University of Connecticut at Storrs and graduated Cum Laude in May 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cell Biology.
At UConn, I took part in COPE, a mentoring program offered through Community Outreach. COPE paired university students with elementary-school-aged children in the area who faced poverty, divorce, or other domestic hardships. The community service program opened my eyes to the sort of positive impact that you can have on somebody by devoting your time to their cause. I have also volunteered at the CT Mission of Mercy, where I saw firsthand the number of people from all different backgrounds who are left without dental care due to financial or accessibility problems.
After seeing the struggles that my immigrant grandparents have faced in receiving adequate health care, I have made it a personal goal to help those who cannot find decent health service. The healthcare profession should not be pursued because of prestige or salary; it should be pursued so that healthcare professionals can make a positive impact on their communities, starting by providing aid to those who are truly in need of it. I would love to learn from the experiences and knowledge that my UST colleagues have to offer, and I would also love to share my passion for helping those who can’t afford it otherwise.
Sarah Kessler - School of Pharmacy
I grew up in the small town of Southborough, Massachusetts, about thirty minutes outside of Boston. Currently I work at an independent pharmacy which provides medication to those in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, ensuring that even those too elderly to get out and pick up their medications are able to receive their prescriptions. I have been heavily involved in volunteer projects since I was in high school, and have become extensively involved in UConn’s Student National Pharmaceutical Association, a group focused on serving underserved populations. By volunteering with charitable organizations like soup kitchens and organizing events about HIV/AIDS awareness, I have come to realize that I wish to be part of a medical environment where I am able to make a lasting impact on people’s lives in both the doctor's office and the community. I believe that the most rewarding thing you can do is to help others, and I am thrilled to be part of a group that focuses on improving care within the community via interprofessional teams. I hope that by participating in the Urban Service Track, I will not only be able to improve my own skill sets when it comes to primary care, but also be able to help others who have barriers to appropriate health care access.
Rubby Koomson - School of Nursing, Class of 2016
I was born in Ghana, West Africa and raised in East Hartford CT; where I currently live with my family. I am working to earn my Bachelors of Science degree in Nursing.
In 2012, I traveled to Ghana to work as a volunteer for Uconn Global Brigades. In Ghana, I assisted doctors with triage and with dispensing medication to members of the community. I also worked with an OBGYN nurse to educate the community about women's health, as well as other public health and basic safety measures. In my brief time in Ghana, I was also able to shadow doctors to get a clearer picture of their interactions with patients and their on-site work procedures. Additionally, I have worked as a volunteer with UConn's Office of Community Outreach, and I continue to work with the American Cancer Society as a fundraiser and with UConn's Global Medical Brigades.
As a woman born in the tropics of West Africa and raised in East Hartford, I have witnessed and experienced health disparities within different communities. I have witnessed how communities can struggle with preventable and curable diseases because they lack proper resources and health education. Having the opportunity to participate in this program will be my way of helping such communities by providing the urgent care that they need even before I become a licensed healthcare professional. I hope that my experiences in UST will help sharpen my professional skills and heighten my desire to pursue a career in a community-based healthcare setting.
Anna Kunkel - Quinnipiac Physician Assistant Program, Class of 2016
I am from Billings, Montana. I graduated from Montana State University in 2011 where I studied Cell Biology and Neuroscience.
I worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant at an acute care hospital and volunteered at a women’s domestic violence shelter in Missoula, Montana prior to starting in the Physician Assistant Program at Quinnipiac University. During my time working at the shelter, I saw the need for more accessible quality healthcare for the women and children I was working with. I am interested in the Urban Service Track because I believe the program will permit me to take clinical knowledge from my Physician Assistant Program and use it to accurately and compassionately care for people in underserved communities. I also look forward to the unique opportunity of working with a group of professionals from across a wide range of medical professions that UST offers.
Krystal LaPorte - Quinnipiac Physician Assistant Program, Class of 2016
I was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Meriden, Connecticut. I attended Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island where I obtained a dual Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Clinical Laboratory Science. Since I can remember I have always been involved in volunteering, whether it was as a reading aide at a hospital or at my grade schools' activities. When I entered college, I became heavily involved in volunteering activities that involved the urban underserved community. Within such communities, I have experience working with a wide variety of age groups, from children to teenagers to adults. After moving back to Connecticut, I began to work at the Literacy Volunteers of Greater Hartford as a tutor in their ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) program where I taught English to adult students. Being involved in UST will give me the tools I need to become a better provider to my future patients while simultaneously allowing me to make a difference now.
Angelica Lee - School of Nursing - Class of 2016
I was born and raised in Waterbury, Connecticut, and graduated from Watertown High School in Watertown, CT in 2012. In my senior year of high school, I obtained a Certification as a Nursing Assistant. Through this, I was able to gain clinical experience with high-acuity patients at Waterbury Hospital and at a long-term care facility at Apple Rehab in Watertown, CT. I was also able to obtain certification in CPR and First Aid, first in high school then later in college. This past year I was also privileged to serve as a fundraising representative for HuskyTHON. I sought involvement in the Urban Service Track because I believe that we can do without many long-term treatment procedures if we start focusing more on prevention of illness. I also have a growing interest in working on prevention in underprivileged, urban areas. Coming from a middle class family exposed to some of the struggles of obtaining certain kinds of healthcare, I want to see a change in how people view the feasibility of working with healthcare providers to live a long, healthy life. With UST, I have a unique opportunity to learn how to support those populations who are in dire need of healthcare and to help instill a new optimism in the minds of individuals willing to be active in healthy living.
Jhennelle Lee - School of Nursing, Class of 2016
I was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and have lived in urban areas in Connecticut all my life. I will graduate from the University of Connecticut at Storrs in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Since 2012, I have volunteered as a member of the Student Nurse Association at the Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic, CT. There, I gained valuable experience working closely with patients and communicating with professionals in fields ancillary to healthcare. In addition to working with community organizations, I have experience in both Milton Hospital, where I shadowed doctors from several departments and learned how to conduct a variety of laboratory tests, and Bridgeport Hospital, where I shadowed doctors and helped assess patient health.
I would be honored to be a part of the Urban Service Track program because it is the first step towards doing what I am most passionate about: providing health care for urban underserved populations. I know UST will give me the skills I need in order to supply whatever community I end up serving the healthcare that it requires. As well, UST will give me the opportunity to be a part of a team of individuals that share my passion for finding healthcare solutions for the underserved. My experiences with providing healthcare to the underserved have convinced me that it is my absolute purpose to become a nurse and contribute to my community’s healthcare.
Jonathan Lis - School of Medicine
Michelle Llinas - School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2018
I was born in Queens, New York and raised in a town called Hewlett on Long Island in New York. I received my Bachelors of Art in Biology in May of 2013 from Hofstra University.
My experiences as a dental assistant in Brooklyn have encouraged me to become more active in the community as a student at the University of Connecticut. On a day-to-day basis, I see the need for improvements in the quality of service in the oral health field, in patient education, and in the level of involvement of health professionals in their communities.
The Urban Service Track is a program that will enrich my dental school education, strengthen my skills working on interprofessional teams, and mold me into an active and conscientious health professional. My goal is to remain sensitive to the individual needs of patients and active in underserved communities throughout my career. I am a first generation Colombian-American who has had opportunities that many, including my own relatives, have not. While I didn’t grow up in an underserved community, much of my family did. Because of this familial connection to poverty, it will always be important to me to serve populations at high risk of disease which lack financial resources. I intend on using the team and leadership skills I’ve learned from positions in past employment and on various athletic teams to become an advocate for the improvement of oral health care.
Jelena Goldoni Macleod - School of Medicine, Class of 2018
I was born in Zagreb, Croatia. I lived there for seven years before moving to Brussels, Belgium, where I lived for three more years before settling down in the United States. I attended the University of Maryland, College Park, where I obtained a BS in Psychology, a BA in French Language and Literature, and a BS in Neurobiology/Physiology. I also have an MHS in Mental Health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
As an undergraduate, I did clinical translation work at the University of Maryland Health Center’s Healthy Workers program. The program focused on an underserved immigrant population of campus employees and community members. I also volunteered as an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) instructor for students, staff, and their families. As a graduate student, I worked on a project evaluating the impact of a pediatric electronic medical record in rural Mississippi. Most recently, I was a Postgraduate Associate at the Yale Child Study Center Program for Anxiety Disorders, where I coordinated research and did clinical work with the diverse populations of New Haven, Connecticut.
I intend to use my language skills, cultural awareness, public health training, and mental health background in my approach to studying and practicing medicine. UST will enable me to do so in an interdisciplinary environment, together with other students and faculty who are passionate about healthcare quality and access for all populations.
Jessica Malcolm - School of Medicine, Class of 2018
I was born in Jamaica, and I grew up in Massachusetts. I was fortunate to be born into a family committed to service. My father is a Pastor and as a child, I had the privilege of serving alongside him in ministry. As I worked with my father, I was introduced to a lifestyle of service that gave me a passion for helping others, especially those less fortunate. More recently, my former undergraduate institution, Oakwood University, provided me with opportunities to work in southern Alabama caring for underprivileged minority communities, incarcerated youth, the homeless, and the disabled.
My past service experience fueled my desire to join the Urban Service Track (UST). The great health disparities I have seen compel me to help underprivileged communities gain access to proper resources and medical care. Fortunately, these are the same goals of UST. I am also excited about the multi-disciplinary community of UST. The team-based programs teach us how to utilize our different healthcare backgrounds to work together. Through this team approach we can successfully provide support for the multi-faceted needs of each individual that we meet. As a future healthcare professional, I am honored to be a UST scholar. I will use the knowledge the program will give me to help make positive changes in the medical treatment of urban populations throughout my career and my life.
Mia Malin - Quinnipiac Physician Assistant Program, Class of 2016
I was raised in Newtown, CT, and obtained my undergraduate degree from Fordham University in Natural Sciences with a minor in Mathematics. I trained as a ballet dancer through high school, and participated in many community outreach programs with my dance company. My most rewarding endeavor was teaching a 90-minute dance class to at-risk 5th and 6th grade girls in Bridgeport, CT. I worked as a professional ballet dancer in New York City through college, and during this time I continued volunteering throughout the boroughs and participated in some national outreach as well. My favorite outreach project during my college years involved working with autistic children in a movement therapy program. In college, as my love for science and medicine grew, I also began volunteering in hospitals and shelters around New York City. I worked in Bellevue Hospital Center’s emergency department, and I volunteered a women’s shelter in the Bronx.
As the PA profession is intrinsically interprofessional, I value the opportunity to further develop cooperative skills as a team member via UST. UST's interprofessional experience will allow me to better understand the true nature of each team member’s role, which in turn will allow me manage all aspects of my patient’s biopsychosocial needs by referring them to the appropriate providers. A patient is not simply an aggregate of discrete organ systems; patients require multiple vectors of care, all contributing to the patient's well-being as an individual. Every specialist is part of a team for the good of the patient, and good communication is essential in order to facilitate unified, consistent care.
Leah Mangini - School of Pharmacy, Class of 2017
I am from the small town of Rutland, Massachusetts. I have worked at Walmart Pharmacy in North Windham, Connecticut as a pharmacy intern, and at UMass Memorial Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts. I currently work as a pharmacy technician at Boulevard Pharmaceutical Compounding Center in Worcester, Mass. My first exposure to working with urban and underserved populations was when I went on an alternative spring break trip to Atlanta, Georgia with my Public Health House Learning Community. We spent time working with a number of diverse populations including those with autism, the homeless, disabled individuals, and chronically-ill urban patients. To me, UST is a way not only to provide great patient care, but also to connect health care workers with disadvantaged populations. I want to take an active part in closing the gaps in access to and quality of care, and also to learn how to better connect with a variety of patient populations. I’ve always had a strong interest in working with an interdisciplinary team of the sort UST provides, because I believe this is the best approach to patient care. Each profession provides a unique point of view, and together such a team can work to create a complete and comprehensive care plan, individualized to each patient. I believe it is my duty as a future health care worker to advocate for and to help empower underserved populations through primary care and education, as well as by connecting communities to a health care system that is dedicated and accessible.
Raquel Manley - School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2018
I was born and raised in Saugus, Massachusetts, a suburban community north of Boston, Massachusetts. I graduated cum laude from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 2010 with a B.S. in Biology, a certificate in Civic Engagement and Public Service, and a certificate from the Citizen Scholars Program. My dedication to dentistry and service started in high school when I began taking advanced science courses and volunteering at the North Shore Association for Retarded Citizens. At UMass, I volunteered with the American Red Cross, Autism Speaks, Relay for Life, and, most notably, CAPACIDAD, a multicultural afterschool program focused on social justice and critical thinking. I continued to balance challenging undergraduate and graduate courses in Biology and Chemistry while completing my honors thesis on policy and organizing around childhood food insecurity and children’s gardens. Through the Urban Service Track, I now hope to combine my love science, dentistry, and service by serving in underserved urban area.
Kaitlin Markoja - School of Medicine, Class of 2018
I was born in Newport Beach, California, but I spent most of my childhood in Cheshire, Connecticut. I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Richmond in Virginia.
I have consistently strived to learn and to contribute to the underserved in modest yet meaningful ways. I have been fortunate to have volunteered in Peru with the non-profit Pan Peru and in Virginia with Remote Area Medical and to have studied abroad in India with the School for International Training’s Health and Human Rights Program. In India, I performed research in a Calcutta leprosy hospital, tutored Bhutanese refugees, and worked as a village teaching fellow for a year in rural Uttar Pradesh. Through all these experiences, I challenged myself to understand people from communities unlike my own.
My experiences have shaped my belief that access to adequate, culturally sensitive healthcare is a basic human right. I also believe that making healthcare information approachable is critical for empowering patients to take part in their own wellness. I appreciate the Urban Service Track’s multidisciplinary approach to medicine and am confident that the collaborative program will help me to better serve my patients in the future.
Theresa Meotti - School of Medicine - Class of 2018
I was born and raised in Old Saybrook, CT and I attended UConn for my undergraduate studies. I have had extensive experience helping underserved populations. I volunteered with a midwife in rural Guatemala providing prenatal care for many women. I also lived in Nicaragua, where I shadowed and assisted a primary care physician at a community clinic and accompanied her on her weekly home visits to patients in impoverished neighborhoods. In these roles I learned more about the complications of chronic conditions and how lifestyle choices contribute to their development, as well as how dangerous it is to have poor access to health care. These experiences have encouraged me to seek a career in medicine where I can work with others to create a patient-centered care model, one that can cater to a variety of patients with a variety of social, cultural, and economic backgrounds and narratives.
The Urban Service Track's emphasis on providing care to vulnerable communities in Connecticut aligns with my medical ambition to lessen the disparities that exist in the current healthcare setting. I am particularly interested in increasing access to care for immigrant populations as the state continues to grow more culturally diverse. The chance to work closely with and learn from health care providers in associated disciplines will enrich my understanding of healthcare and healing and contribute to the holistic medical education I want to pursue.
Meteyana Miller - School of Nursing, Class of 2016
I was born and raised in Stamford, Connecticut. Every summer as a teenager, I volunteered with the Ferguson Main Library. I worked with the child and teenager reading clubs that were held during the summer and fall. My responsibilities included organizing activities for the children, reading to the children, and preparing the reading logs that tracked their reading progress throughout the season. From my junior to senior year of high school, I was also a part of the local UNICEF club, which organized many soup kitchen visits and book drives. WE also coordinated with local businesses through the Tap Project to raise money for UNICEF, and organized a Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF event during Halloween. Through senior year, I was a volunteer tutor for underclassmen through my National Honors Society as well as a paid tutor for a Success Tutoring program run by my high school; I tutored math and history.
I sought involvement with UST to learn more about undeserving populations and how to help them through being peer educators, or through providing access to soup kitchens and other community health organizations. I believe the experience I will have with the UST's events and projects will enhance my skills as a promising nurse-to-be and my capacity for empathy and caring as a human being.
Meredith Milligan - School of Medicine, Class of 2018
I was born and raised in North Stonington, CT and graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2014 with a B.S. in biological sciences and minors in psychology, physiology & neurobiology, and molecular & cell biology. While I have always been involved in my community and participated in a wide variety of service projects, I was most significantly affected by my participation in a healthcare-themed alternative spring break to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during my freshman year of college. This experience, together with my experience as a Physician Scientist Intern at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Boston, further solidified my passion for service and my dedication to the field of medicine. I believe that the Urban Service Track will provide me with the opportunity to become the type of physician I have always dreamed of being: one engaged with my community, one possessing the skills, compassion, and dedication to prevention and primary care to care for all its members. Participation in the Urban Service Track will not only make me a more experienced physician, but also will help me become a better team-member, a more creative problem-solver, and a more empathetic human being capable of ensuring that there is room for all in our ever-changing healthcare system.
Megan Mitchell - School of Pharmacy, Class of 2017
I grew up in Longmeadow MA, a suburban town just outside of Springfield MA. I moved to Connecticut as a freshman in high school and attended high school in the town of Somers, CT.
I became interested in joining UST after having been involved with organizations in the UConn School of Pharmacy like the Student National Pharmaceutical Associate and Lambda Kappa Sigma, which gave me first-hand experience with serving our state's underserved populations. I also had the opportunity to be a counselor and eventual director of a Summer Day Camp that is held locally in my town. This opportunity allowed me to become much more aware of how a program focused on interdisciplinary teamwork and service would be a great way for me to affect my community and help those who are less fortunate than myself.
Mary Ojukwu - School of Medicine, Class of 2018
I am a first generation Nigerian-American born in Austin, TX who has had the experience of living in various states and cities throughout my childhood. My upbringing allowed me to witness how various local, state, and national environments affect one’s access to healthcare. Throughout my years as a student, I merged my ability in the sciences with my understanding of the personal challenges faced by people from a similar social-economic background in order to pursue health care initiatives aimed at improving the health of various underserved populations in my community. My work with various clinics, hospitals, and non-profit organizations such as the Windham Hospital, African Women’s Cancer Awareness Association and the Health Education Outreach Program in the last six years has allowed me to teach, empower, and enhance the health of individuals of low socioeconomic status. In addition, I have learned how cultural norms, lack of citizenship, and lack of adequate shelter in ethnic communities all disenfranchise individuals from the American healthcare system. I hope to continue my work with underserved communities through my time in the Urban Service Track. The experience will be paramount in helping me achieve my goal of training to become a physician who is actively and effectively engaged with underserved urban populations and with the political affairs needed to improve the quality of healthcare available to them. Furthermore, I believe the UST will grant me the ability to take part in the emerging primary care movements aimed at revolutionizing primary care for the neediest populations.
Lindsey Parker - School of Pharmacy, Class of 2017
I was raised in the small town of Bolton, CT. I’ve always had a strong interest in healthcare and in serving underserved populations. In 2012, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel to Honduras to participate in a student-run medical clinic. Later, in 2013, I was able to travel to Ghana for one month to participate in a global health and sustainable development internship with the organization Global Brigades.
I sought involvement in Urban Service Track in order to gain experience working in an interprofessional environment, as well as to gain familiarity working with different types of unique populations. I find working with underserved populations incredibly rewarding, and hope to stay involved in caring for such populations, and to have this type of work make up a great portion of my professional life. The opportunity to advocate for and to empower underserved populations is my ultimate motivation for getting involved in UST and for pursing pharmacy as a career path. I believe that it’s important for healthcare providers to have a developed understanding of underserved populations in order to capably and responsibly work for and with them. Overall, I believe that my experience with UST will make me a more competent, compassionate, and knowledgeable pharmacist.
Jalak Patel - School of Pharmacy, Class of 2016
I am from North Haven, Connecticut. I have had experiential learning opportunities at independent, retail, and hospital pharmacies. My volunteer experience includes time with various departments at the Yale New Haven Hospital.
My experiences have made me realize how important it is to interact with a variety of populations, especially underserved populations. I have seen the terrible impact that being uninsured can have on a person. As a result, I would like to learn more about interacting with underserved populations in order to better provide them with healthcare. I would also like learn more about working with an interdisciplinary team, which I feel allows for the most efficient care for a patient. I believe through UST, I will be able to broaden my experiences in these areas.
Nadya Peresleni - School of Pharmacy
I grew up in Port Jefferson, NY Ever since I was little, I have been acutely aware of social inequality and injustice. Throughout high school I volunteered in our English as Second Language classes, helping students whose families recently immigrated into the US and who were struggling socially and financially. Throughout high school and college I volunteered at Stony Brook University Hospital, where I assisted the Infant Hearing Screening Department in gathering information on family history in the newborn nursery and NICU floors. There I was first exposed to health disparities in medicine, since many of the patients did not speak English and did not have the social support that other new mothers had.
After I graduated from Stony Brook University with a B.S. in Biochemistry, I spent a year volunteering at a crisis hotline that served the Suffolk County area of Long Island. This exposed me to the large population of physically disabled and mentally ill whose lower socioeconomic status prevented them from receiving vital medical care and resulted in chronic, untreated conditions. Oftentimes people spoke to me about struggling with access to transportation and the lack of financial means or insurance to get the treatment that they needed.
I am excited to be a part of UST because I hope to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of people in situations similar to the ones I was exposed to during my past volunteering experiences. My goal is to one day work on an interdisciplinary team that can improve the lives of a diverse population by decreasing healthcare inequality. I believe that the model of a patient centered medical home, where medical professionals from all disciplines come together to provide coordinated care, is the way in which we can best improve health outcomes across the country. As a UST member, I hope to develop my understanding of the multidimensional aspect of health disparities and the roles played by other health professionals so as to be able to contribute the most that I can to the community in which I live.
Jeanne Rolle - School of Medicine, Class of 2018
I was born on the island of New Providence, Bahamas, and lived there until the age of 11, then moved to Hempstead NY, where I spent the rest of my childhood. I attended Nassau Community College in Long Island, New York for two years, then transferred to Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama. There I majored in biology, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology.
It was at Oakwood University that my interest for volunteer service and community outreach was aroused. There, I got involved with a student-led humanitarian organization known as NAPS, the National Association for the Prevention of Starvation. NAPS is an organization of volunteers that travel the US and the world, aiding in hunger, disaster, and medical relief. In my five years with NAPS, I was given the opportunity to serve in various ways. I took part in community outreach to underserved populations, where we conducted tutoring programs, children’s programs, health fairs, feeding programs in “tent cities” across America, and medical outreach in poor rural areas in Mississippi, Alabama, and foreign locales. These experiences developed within me a genuine compassion for humanity, a consistent loyalty to the pursuit of this profession, and a desire to continue in both local and global outreach in my future as a physician.
The main reason why I sought involvement in the Urban Service Track was because I want to continue to serve my community as I embark upon becoming a physician. I believe that the Urban Service Track will provide me with skills that I lacked before, namely the skills needed to serve others as a healthcare professional. I expect for my experiences with the Urban Service Track to enable me to make a difference in my field of medicine by teaching me how to meet the specific physical, mental, and social needs of communities with disparate healthcare needs, and how to have such an influence within my community that my service will lead to less health problems for future generations.
Megan Ryan - School of Nursing, Class of 2016
I was born and raised in West Hartford Connecticut. I graduated from Conard High School in 2012 and started attending University of Connecticut School of Nursing in the fall of that year. My expected year of graduation is 2016. I have divided my recent extracurricular time between paid work in health care as a Patient Care Associate at Hartford Hospital, and volunteer work through the University of Connecticut with various underprivileged communities. My volunteer work involves aiding the homeless in impoverished areas of Hartford and Willimantic. As a result of my volunteer experience, I have come to realize that these people are lacking in not only food and shelter, but also basic health care. I understand that the Urban Service Track tries to address this problem specifically by bringing healthcare and, most notably, preventive care to the homeless and impoverished. I look forward to being a part of this project, because I believe the skills that I have acquired through my training as a nurse and as a volunteer worker have prepared me to provide this kind of assistance to people in these communities. The Affordable Care Act promises to bring health care to all Americans, and I am excited about the prospect of extending health care to the people who are most in need.
Emily Sachs - School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2018
I grew up in Pomfret, Connecticut. I graduated from Providence College in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology. For the past two years, I have volunteered at the Mission of Mercies in both Connecticut and Rhode Island. Prior to that, from sophomore to senior year of college, I volunteered at inner city schools in which I presented information to children about oral health awareness. I was also a tutor for local high school students around the Providence area, and I volunteered at a pediatric dental office for a year.
The patients that would come into the pediatric dental office were from middle- to lower-class families. Witnessing children that had either never been to the dentist or had not come in years, I learned about the importance of oral care. Throughout my childhood, I was ignorant of the ways vulnerable populations lived. Living in a city taught me that not everyone is fortunate enough to have the means to support themselves financially, which leads many people to go without basic necessities such as healthcare. I felt that joining the Urban Service Track would allow me to combine working in a field I am passionate about with a cause I am very passionate about. Our healthcare system is expanding; I would like to help continue this expansion by giving back to the underserved populations in any way I can. Not only will UST be a learning experience for me, but it will also be a perfect opportunity to provide for and to educate the underserved.
Veronica Schmidt - School of Medicine
I was born in Hartford, Connecticut and raised in Hartford County. I earned a B.S. in Biochemistry with a minor in Psychology from the University of Saint Joseph. I have been involved in several health outreach initiatives aimed to improve the health of underserved urban populations through health education. Before beginning medical school, I was involved with planning and conducting health workshops at a community shelter in the Washington, DC area. I also served as a public health volunteer at the International Rescue Committee where I provided health promotion services for refugee and asylee populations.
I believe that good health is a basic right that enables one to live a quality life. One of my priorities as a future physician is to work to alleviate the gaps in health care and provide care for patients from medically-underserved populations. As a medical student, I sought to participate in UST because I wanted to increase my understanding of the challenges which different vulnerable populations face. I am excited to learn from mentor physicians and health professionals on how to overcome these challenges and provide patient-centered care. I am also eager to work alongside students from other health care disciplines and learn how we can together work to improve patient care and health outcomes. I know that the experiences that I will have as a UST Scholar will help mold me into a compassionate physician prepared to serve underserved populations and patients-in-need in any community that I will serve.
Michael Tassavor - School of Medicine, Class of 2018
I was born in New Britain and moved a lot as a kid, eventually settling in Rocky Hill. I received a B.S. in Molecular & Cell Biology from UConn followed by an M.S. in Biomedical Sciences from Tufts School of Medicine.
At Tufts I volunteered as a Case Manager with the Sharewood Project, a free clinic outside Boston. There I provided basic screening and care and located social services such as WIC or subsidized insurance for patients. Sharewood opened my eyes to the sad realities of healthcare access.
One of my most meaningful experiences was a summer spent as a secretary at a cancer clinic. One of my duties was to collect on the balances of sick and often distraught patients - a task that often inevitably pitted me against the underserved and uninsured. My exposure to this dark side of the healthcare system is a major reason why I have sought to work with vulnerable patient populations.
My interest in working with the underserved and vulnerable increased during two summers in my mother’s native Iran, where I worked with an ophthalmologist who became a mentor and exemplar to me through his advocating and caring for the neglected rural and urban poor of his province.
Involvement with the Urban Service Track is a natural progression of my experiences and will help me with my goals, as both a physician and as an advocate, to bring healthcare to the underserved and make it a right for all people.
Katelyn Thompson - Quinnipiac Physician Assistant Program, Class of 2016
I was born and raised in Brentwood, New Hampshire, and I completed my Bachelors of Health Sciences at Quinnipiac University.
I have had extensive experience working in a variety of roles in a healthcare setting. I have been a pharmacy technician at Elliott Hospital in Manchester, New Hampshire, a physical therapy aide at Access Sports Medicine in Exeter, New Hampshire, and a medical assistant at Families First Health Clinic in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Physician Assistants were originally created due to a shortage in primary care physicians. Today, the shortage of primary care physicians has sparked my interest in becoming a primary care PA. I am also interested in primary care because I enjoy the community of care that primary care offers. I want to be that well-known person in the community who consults long-term health-related decisions that patients make.
In my brief time in grad school, I have learned quickly that the education I gain in the classroom needs to be coupled with actual interactions with patients in their communities. After learning about the Urban Service Track opportunities and the philosophy of the program, I felt that I would benefit immensely from the experience of working in urban communities and at the same time would expand my skills as a healthcare provider.
Alexandra Turgeon - School of Medicine
Lauren Dulieu - School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2018
I grew up in Cranston, Rhode Island, a fairly large city just outside of Providence. I graduated from Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts in 2013 with a B.S. in Biology. During my senior year of college, I spent a week serving the migrant farm worker population in Coachella, CA as part of an affordable housing project. My most vivid memory of the trip was meeting young children in an after school program, where I noticed that nearly half the children had stainless steel crowns on their teeth. I also met one child who did not have any access to dental treatment and as a result had severely decayed teeth at the age of six years old. I could not believe that the oral health of young children had been compromised to this extent and I recognized the privilege that I had taken for granted my entire life. This further kindled my passion for not only providing healthcare access to underserved populations, but also educating children and their families about preventative dentistry. Through the Urban Service Track, I hope to grow as a healthcare provider through teaching patients and providing them with the knowledge that maintaining good oral health is an important part of a person’s overall well-being. I was drawn to UST by its focus on the immigrant population, but I am also looking to expanding my knowledge about the other underserved populations within the United States.
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Last page update: December 17, 2015