Health Justice Scholars Alumni
Michelle Bennett spent her formative years growing up in an urban area, went to boarding school in suburban Connecticut for high school, and she was in rural Ohio for her undergraduate education. She was raised by her mother. She chose to go to boarding school because going to school in the Bronx did not give her the learning environment she thought she needed. It was not "cool" to study or to care about school. She knew she wanted to be a doctor in middle school. Connecticut was different, school was faster and harder and the majority of people did not look like her. This was the first time she had to learn how to adapt. This is when she first learned that not everyone had the same background as her but they were similar to her when it came to having a passion for doing well in school. In college, she was a tutor for elementary school kids. After college she worked for 2 years at a hospital in cytopathology, taking care of specimens and slides, and doing some retrospective research projects. During this time she applied to medical school for the first time. After that application cycle she took some additional upper level undergraduate science courses to enhance her medical school application and volunteered at a children's hospital working with inpatient's and outpatients. She was not sure if this was enough so she applied to master's programs that were designed to help students get into medical school. She chose the Tufts program and did a laboratory research project to complete her master's degree, since she had no prior bench work experience. Lastly, she is really interested in women's and children's medicine.
Jasmine Corona is originally from San Dimas, California. She attended Boston University for undergrad and graduated with a degree in Biology in 2012. For her year off she worked at Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center as a coordinator for a Spanish speaking diabetics' education group. She also worked for nearly three years at South Street Youth Center where she tutored elementary school students of the South Street Developments in English and math. Her outside interests include tennis, drawing, cooking and she has recently been learning how to sew her own dresses. In regards to the Ho Health Justice Scholars program, she is very interested in patient advocacy, immigrant health, social determinants of health, community organizing and community outreach methods in health promotion as well as healthcare law and policy.
An-Hoa Giang was born in Erie, PA where her parents emigrated from Vietnam. Having been raised to value education, she went to study at the University of Rochester and graduated with a degree in Microbiology and Immunology. She has broad experience working in poor communities, which include tutoring refugee children, teaching English to immigrant women and playing with children in homeless shelters. She loves to read, cook and converse though she can find interest in almost anything.
Lanie Hill grew up in Belmont, Massachusetts, and graduated from Tufts University in 2013 with a dual degree in Spanish and community health. Her undergraduate course work initially sparked her interest in health care disparities. While studying abroad in a public health program in Chile, she designed and implemented a study on sex workers and other marginalized communities and their relationship to the public health system. She then returned to do research at Tufts Medical Center that further focused on domestic disparities in mental health care. Through these projects, she solidified her interest in both Hispanic culture and underserved medicine. By participating in this program, she hopes to merge her interest in both to ultimately better inform her clinical practice.
Eung-Mi Lee was born in Denver, CO, but lived in several different places growing up including California, New Jersey, Colorado, Shanghai, and New Hampshire. She double-majored in Philosophy and English at Boston College and became deeply involved in a social-justice based service-learning program called PULSE, and spent two years on its Leadership Council. PULSE provided the opportunity to work with various service organizations in Boston such as Health Care for All and Boston Healthcare for the Homeless. After graduating, she served as the Clinical Operations Manager at Planned Parenthood League of MA, and volunteered as a medical advocate with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, and met survivors of sexual assault at various emergency departments in the Greater Boston area to provide support during evidence collection exams. Eung-Mi is currently pursuing her MD/MBA at Tufts University School of Medicine and the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. She enjoys swimming, running, reading, and practicing yoga.
Anita Mathews is a part of Tufts' combined MD/MPH program. She is from Nashville, Tennessee, and she graduated from Brown University in 2012 with a degree in Neuroscience. She enjoys art, cooking, and creative writing. Her interest in the Ho Health Justice Scholars program developed from time spent volunteering in free health clinics, creating a mentorship program for homeless youth, and working in Washington, D.C. on policy surrounding nutrition in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Laura Sloan was born in Toronto but grew up in New Jersey. She graduated from Tufts University in 2011 where she majored in Biology and Art History. After graduation, she worked as an AmeriCorps member at a community health center in Albany, NY. She had the opportunity to perform HIV testing, lead HIV support groups, and revitalize the HIV department's Consumer Advisory Board (a way for patients to give feedback to the department). She had little interest in practicing medicine in an underserved community before working in Albany. However, the patients, coworkers, fellow AmeriCorps members, and the AmeriCorps leaders inspired her to want to work in a community health center similar to where she served. After her year of service, she moved to Minneapolis, MN where she worked as an emergency room scribe and volunteered giving HIV education presentations and distributing cleans syringes with a syringe exchange. Her outside interests include hiking, travelling, visiting art museums, lingering in coffee shops, and eating sour patch. She is very much looking forward to being a part of the Sam W. Ho Health Justice Scholars program!
Christina Weed is an MD/MPH student from Seattle, WA. She graduated from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA in May 2013. Her interest in the Ho Health Justice Scholars program is fueled by various experiences including working with communities in East LA to improve health education opportunities; a public health project in partnership with the Strauss Foundation focused on preventative women's health in San Blas, Nicaragua and time spent in Haiti learning about rural community organizing. In her free time, Christina enjoys all things outdoors, reading, and listening to music (live is best!).
Caroline Melhado is from Colorado and studied Environmental Science and Anthropology at Tufts University. During undergrad she studied childhood asthma disparities in Boston and midwife practices in rural, Western India during her semester abroad. She completed her anthropological senior thesis on the role and use of medical interpreters in the Emergency Department. After graduation she worked for Care Coordination Services LLC, a pilot project for Philadelphia's high-utilizing medicaid patients, connecting patients to their medical homes. She has worked in two national parks and loves to backpack and trail run.
Jackie Hodges is from Gainesville, Virginia and attended the University of Virginia, where she majored in Biochemistry and minored in Global Public Health. She is pursuing an MD/MPH, with interests in maternal/child health and infectious disease. After working with a nonprofit organization focused on advocacy and rehabilitation for women displaced by human trafficking, she became interested in understanding how agency shapes health status, and in a broader sense how the health of an individual is intrinsically linked to other parts of that individual's life. She joined the Sam W. Ho Health Justice Scholars program in the hopes of gaining perspectives from mentors and peers that share an interest in promoting the health of underserved populations, and to more actively integrate her interests into her medical education.
Lauren Malishchak was born in Baltimore, MD and spent her childhood in a suburb northwest of the city. She attended local Catholic schools, where community service was greatly emphasized and deeply incorporated throughout her education. These experiences led her to pursue a wide array of service opportunities during her time at Boston College, where she was heavily involved in the Appalachia Volunteers Program, an alternative spring break program with a year-long educational component revolving around social justice, structural inequalities, and how to serve these communities in a way that recognizes their strengths and resources. It was her time as a part of Appa that lead to her desire to practice medicine in an underserved community. As a current second year, she is a member of the executive board and the Director of Women's Health for the Sharewood Project, Tufts' weekly, free, student-run clinic. She recently spent the summer after her first year of medical school volunteering with and learning about Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program and she is very hopeful and excited about working either with this population or with immigrant populations (possibly in the field of internal medicine) in the future.
Katia Vernord was born in the United States and raised in Haiti. When her family returned to Florida in 2004, they relocated to the city of Homestead, a vibrant agricultural town with a strong community of farm workers. Despite the health risks associated with the labor of seasonal farmland and poultry workers, she witnessed how they were deprived of adequate health services in her town. Community health centers in Homestead were mostly under-resourced. After her 2010 college graduation, Katia interned at President Clinton's foundation supporting its work in the 2010 Haiti earthquake relief. There, she became committed to a career in medicine. In 2012, while completing a pre-medicine program in Boston, she gained her first-hand experience in serving a medically underserved margin of the city's residents. As a volunteer on the family van, Harvard Medical School's mobile health clinic, she provided free health check-ups to many immigrants who lacked health insurance due to their newly legal U.S. resident status. This experience helped her better define varying needs in community health. Katia is interested in anesthesiology and wants to be recruited in a medically underserved area in need of specialty care. At Tufts School of Medicine, she knows that the Sam W. Ho Health Justice Scholars program will impart her with core skills in patient advocacy and clinical experience that is community oriented. Katia earned a B.A. in political science with high honors and graduated from the University of Florida in 2010.
Marianna Papageorge is from Weston, Massachusetts and attended college at Tufts University where she majored in Anthropology and Community Health. Marianna's interest in underserved medicine began in the classroom but was realized with meaningful experiences in Xela, Guatemala and Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. With an appreciation for understanding people and communities, and the importance of awareness and context in medicine, Marianna hopes to work with populations most in need. She joined the Sam W. Ho Health Justice Scholars program to further learn about this interest and its reality in clinical medicine. She is very excited and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the community that is the Health Justice Scholars.
Elena Madan graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with undergraduate degrees in Molecular Biology and Healthcare Management and Policy, both magna cum laude. From community work and consulting at clinics and non-profits in Philadelphia and overseas in Ecuador, Ghana, India, Panama, and Boston, she has come to understand the challenges in healthcare in access, education, and adherence, and the importance of understanding socioeconomic factors and cultural empathy in serving patients. In the Ho Health Justice Scholars program, she is building upon these foundational experiences through clinical work in underserved communities during CAP, clerkships, and electives. She is especially interested in the development of innovative technology for education, adherence and care delivery for sustainable improvement in underserved communities and plans to implement them in the future.
Alyssa Wohl is a second-year medical student from Larchmont, New York. She attended Tufts for her undergraduate degree, majoring in Child Development with a focus on adolescent development and sexual health. Alyssa's interest in underserved medicine stems from her work with Peer Health Exchange and the Make-A-Wish foundation along with her community health classes in college. As a member of the Ho Health Justice Scholars program, Alyssa is excited to be a member of a community of peers that share her goals as a future physician and includes mentors who have successfully impacted underserved communities. Alyssa also hopes to have discussions with other members and utilize the resources of the Health Justice Scholars to start making an impact in underserved communities while still in medical school. In her spare time, Alyssa enjoys playing the flute, taking dance classes, reading, and keeping up with pop culture.
Ryan Walker was born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She is currently a 2nd year MD/MPH candidate and aspires to pursue a career as a primary care physician with a focus on community medicine, in hopes of addressing educational and health disparities. At Tufts, she serves as the Co-President of the Tufts' Student National Medical Association (SNMA) Chapter, an organization that aims to address health concerns of underserved communities and support underrepresented minorities in medicine. She is also a Sexual Reproductive Health/Women's Health Counselor at the Sharewood Project, which provides free health education and services to individuals and families in need. Ryan is also a National Health Service Corps Scholar and Gates Millennium Scholar. She graduated from the University of Miami in June 2013 with a Bachelor's of Science in Biology and Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and minors in Chemistry, Women's and Gender Studies, and Public Health. After graduating college, Ryan served 1 year as an AmeriCorps Member with City Year Miami, where she worked with at-risk high school students and provided math interventions, whole class support, and tutoring services. Throughout high school and college, Ryan was an avid sexual/reproductive health peer educator and advocate for 6 years, and focused a great deal on HIV/AIDS education to address the high rates of new HIV cases in South Florida. In this role, she facilitated a number of workshops, forums, and events in her community, on her campus, and in collaboration with community organizations. She expanded her advocacy efforts to a national level through her involvement with Advocates for Youth's National Young Women of Color Leadership Council (YWOC). As a member of YWOC, she partook in annual trainings and national conferences, blogged, and lobbied to Congress. It was through her extensive work in sexual/reproductive health that Ryan developed an interest in public health. She has particular interests in the intersection of medicine and social, economic, cultural, and environmental factors.
Maalika Banerjee grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, and she graduated from Tufts University in 2013 with a degree in Community Health and English. She then served for two years as a National Health Corps (AmeriCorps) member, in Philadelphia and Chicago. In Philadelphia, she served as a Patient Advocate at a free clinic, working one-on-one with uninsured patients to acquire medications for chronic conditions, free of cost. In Chicago, she taught Sexual Health Education in Chicago Public Schools, while partnering with youth to develop a campaign around STI testing, called Get Yourself Tested. As a Ho Health Justice Scholar student, Maalika is excited to deepen her understanding of health issues impacting urban, underserved populations in Boston, while learning how to promote social justice and health equity in clinical and community settings.
Reeves Bright, MS, MPH, grew up on a farm in Coatesville, PA and worked as an EMT during high school and college. She attended Tufts University as an undergraduate, and received her BA in Spanish Language in 2012. After graduating she moved to Ecuador, where she lived in a small, coastal community and volunteered in the Emergency Room of a local clinic. When Reeves returned to the United States, she interned at Victory Programs, a nonprofit in Boston, MA. She then spent two years concurrently earning a MS in Biomedical Sciences and a MPH in Global Health, both from Tufts University. Reeves is interested in immigrant and international health, with a focus on undocumented immigrants in the United States and maternal and infant health. She also enjoys hiking with her dog and rock climbing.
Rosa Drummond first knew she wanted to pursue medicine when she volunteered with Habitat for Humanity as a first year in college. She enjoyed working with underserved communities and realized that as a doctor she would be able to contribute in a meaningful, interesting, and challenging way. She volunteered twice in Honduras with the Medical Eye and Dental International Care Organization (MEDICO) and she was able to connect with individuals and families through health care and health education. It was exciting for her to be involved with people who cared so much about the lives of others and believed that adequate health care was a basic human right. The Ho Health Justice Scholars program is one of the main reasons she chose Tufts School of Medicine, and she looks forward to being part of a passionate community that is dedicated to helping empower medically underserved communities and populations. She is hoping to learn how to be a successful physician in these communities and the best ways to work with and care for groups of patients who face obstacles in receiving good medical care.
Jessica Evans-Wall is coming into Medical School from a background in community based natural resource management, wilderness medicine and wilderness guiding. In working with communities on alternative energy and conservation issues, her mind was opened by the communities that what they were most interested in and most lacking was access to healthcare. She is new to Boston and is excited to learn from the diverse communities here. Previously, Jessica has worked in rural clinics as a medical assistant and is interested in serving as a physician in rural communities in the future. She is interested in finding ways to incorporate traditional and cultural knowledge of health from communities with allopathic treatments.
Originally from New York, Emily Geldwert graduated in 2009 from Brown University with a public policy concentration. Since then, she has lived and worked in public health across 15 African countries and volunteered as an HIV/STI and harm reduction counselor at a community health center specializing in LGBTQ care. Most recently, Emily completed her Master's degree in public health and health promotion from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine where her research focused on improving how and when physicians discuss sexual health with patients. While her path to Tufts School of Medicine was long, each experience has instilled in her a desire to serve others and a commitment to improve the health of underserved communities. She is thrilled to be a member of the 2019 Ho Health Justice Scholars class!
Sami Hamdan grew up in Westwood, Massachusetts and went to Boston University as a Health Science major. International medical work in Ecuador served as a source of interest in both medicine and care in underserved communities. After graduating, he continued to Boston University School of Public Health, concentrating in Health Policy and Management. During his time at the School of Public Health, he interned at the Institute for Community Health/Cambridge Health Alliance and worked at the VA in Boston. These experiences are the basis for a strong interest in learning the ways to overcome the systematic barriers to care in underserved communities, especially as a future clinician.
Li Lin is from Queens, New York. She is interested in working with the underserved communities because she believes health should be a right, not a privilege. Between high school and college, she volunteered at New York Downtown Hospital and helped with community outreach events to help spread awareness of Hepatitis B among Asian immigrant populations. In college, as a co-leader for the Collegiate Health Service Corp, she worked with Middletown Community Health Center to canvas for Obama Care, and also partnered with AmeriCorp members to bring high school students from low-income communities to the Rising Star conference, to help and encourage them to apply to colleges. During the gap year, she volunteered as a community navigator to help bring live-alone seniors who were recently discharged from the Emergency Department to senior centers. This was a pilot study to look at whether the health outcomes of these seniors by reducing their social isolation and increasing their physical and social activities could be improved. As a Health Justice Scholar student, she wishes to learn more of how to become an effect advocate for the underserved communities. Her most current interest is to explore ways to help improve the life qualities of low-income seniors and pain management.
A New Bern, North Carolina native, Robbie Patterson graduated from Duke University in 2014 with a major in Global Health and a desire that the right to health be a reality for the poor. Continuing his previous work in Haiti, he spent the year after graduation working for St. Boniface Haiti Foundation at its hospital on Haiti's southern peninsula. He was involved in logistics, communications, and the management of biomedical equipment procured for the newly-completed Maternal and Neonatal Health Center. These experiences, among others, prompted him to apply for the Ho Health Justice Scholars and enroll in the MD/MPH program at Tufts. He has learned that the Haitian immigrant population in Boston is particularly vulnerable to negative determinants of health for a number of reasons. Through Health Justice Scholars program, he plans to use his previous experience to engage with this demographic and similar populations in order to improve health and access to health care.
Nicholas Spanos was born and raised in Waterford, CT. He received his Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences at Fordham University in Bronx, NY. During his time in the Bronx, Nicholas spent a significant amount of his extracurricular time volunteering at various organizations including the Pelham Family Center, Bronx is Blooming, Life is Precious and St. Barnabas Hospital, a community-based hospital serving mostly underserved patients. Nicholas also has experience working with underserved populations in Battambang, Cambodia where he volunteered on a medical humanitarian mission with Project Angkor, a NGO based out of California. His areas of interest in the Sam W. Ho Health Justice Scholars program include working with LGBT populations throughout the greater Boston area in hopes of learning ways to prevent various health disparities seen in this medically underserved population.