Summer 2012

The following are biographical notes of students who were selected for the program in summer 2012.

Note: Records are presented in alphabetical order.


  • Aireen  Agulto
  • Rachel Borthwell
  • Claire Brownfield
  • Jane Chang
  • Angelina Garcia
  • Kim Harrison
  • Carolyn Ho
  • Rachel Jensen
  • Michael Jung
  • Christopher Khoury
  • Christine Kwong
  • Lee Lankford
  • Aaron Lee
  • Christopher Little
  • Kevin Li
  • Mikhail Melnik
  • Yelena Mikityanskaya
  • Erica Neuhaus
  • Thong Nguyen
  • Ivonne Palma
  • Axana Rodriguez-Torres
  • Steven Russo
  • Zoe Saenz
  • Brianna Slatnick
  • David Velez
  • Kristopher Waring


  • Lisa Blankenship
  • Stephanie Brooks
  • Rebecca Campbell
  • Jason Ching
  • Jason Compton
  • Kirsten Concha-Moore
  • Lauren Croda
  • Cory Dearborn
  • Heidi  Dearborn
  • Baljot Dhoot
  • Brandon Doan
  • Christopher Duong
  • Anna Fang
  • Kevin Gustafson
  • Jessica Hernandez
  • Gabriella Herrera
  • Kevin Hughes
  • Megan Jang
  • Cheryl Jordan
  • Jonathan Lavi
  • Kristiana Lehn
  • Michael Lin
  • Yang Lu
  • Larissa Miyachi
  • Erin  Murray
  • Lauren Palitz
  • Manisha Rai
  • Arash Rezaei
  • Cesar Rivas
  • Roberto Ruelas
  • Jean Sabile
  • Ronald Sahyouni
  • Navjeet Salhan
  • Paul Sciortino
  • Danien Scipio
  • Tiffany Sia
  • Brandon Sie
  • Camron Smith
  • Meagan Smith
  • Jayasree Sundaram
  • Jenkang Tao
  • Clara Wang
  • Barbara Waring
  • Ty Wheeler


Aside from their internship obligations, the following students manage the program.

Photo of Aireen AgultoAireen Agulto
University of California, Berkeley

Aireen Agulto graduated from UC Berkeley in 2008 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a minor in Education.  Aireen was a proud and active member of the Pilipino Association of Student Services and the Youth Mentorship Program at Cal, dedicated to helping first-generation Filipino students in San Francisco grow academically and personally, and acclimate to life in America.  She loved being a tangible and realistic role model and still continues that enthusiasm as a Sylvan Learning Center Tutor and Teacher today.

Aireen’s college journey in pursuing a medical career started in her first year as a Molecular and Cell Biology major, but her direction abruptly changed as the pre-med cutthroat environment became her demise.  However, after her experience in many neurosurgery and sleep lab research opportunities during her last two years at Cal, Aireen realized she wanted clinical experience and her passion for a career in medicine had not died with her change in majors.  Thus, Aireen has completed the pre-medical requirements at Solano Community College in Fairfield, CA as a post-baccalaureate student.

Beyond academics, Aireen volunteers for the American Red Cross at David Grant Medical Center on Travis Air Force Base.  She enjoys an active lifestyle of snowboarding, rafting, motorcycle riding, and daily workouts.  Aireen can often be found babysitting her two nephews and niece and spending time with her family, with whom she is very close.

Aireen will be applying to medical school this cycle.  As an intern, this program gave her a more clear and realistic perspective on what a surgeon encounters on a daily basis, help strengthen her characteristics that are becoming of a physician and helped her identify and resolve any weaknesses, and widened her understanding of health care in America.   Now, as one of the academic coordinators, she hopes to provide helpful feedback to the current interns and introduce new and enlightening material to aid them on their journey towards medicine.

Photo of Rachel BorthwellRachel Borthwell
University of California, Davis

Rachel Borthwell grew up in Valencia, California with her parents and one younger sister. She graduated from Saugus High School in 2008 with Honors before moving to Northern California to begin her undergraduate studies at UC Davis.

Rachel is currently a third year student at UC Davis double majoring in Art History and Biological Sciences with an emphasis in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior. As a freshman, she became part of the Biological Undergraduate Scholars Program where she developed an interest in undergraduate research. Rachel has spent most of her time working in the Department of Physiology and Membrane Biology with Dr. Jonathan Widdicombe. Her research focuses on the genetic disease cystic fibrosis, specifically the development of primary pig tracheal gland cell cultures. With the recent advent of the transgenic pig model of cystic fibrosis, she hopes to develop a reliable method of obtaining well-differentiated gland cultures that may help further our knowledge of airway gland physiology and its alterations in cystic fibrosis.

Rachel’s future goals are to attend medical school in the fall of 2013 and to specialize in the surgical field. She is excited for this opportunity to gain clinical experience and to learn more about what it takes to be successful in the medical field. In her spare time she enjoys reading, sports, the outdoors, and spending time in art museums all over San Francisco.

Claire Brownfield
University of California, Davis

Claire Brownfield was born and raised in San Jose, California where she lived with her parents and three younger brothers. After graduating from Presentation High School, Claire attended San Jose City College to complete her transfer requirements. While at SJCC, she attained her EMT-B certification and began teaching as a volunteer instructor in the SJCC EMT Training Program. This fall, Claire will transfer to UC Davis to complete her B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology before applying to medical school in 2013.

As well as being a full-time student, Claire holds two part time jobs as a life guard and EMT-B. She also volunteers as an EMT-B at concerts throughout the Bay Area. In her free time, Claire enjoys reading fantasy and science fiction books, swimming, and hanging out with friends and family.

Photo of Jane Chang

Jane YunCheong Chang
University of California, Berkeley

Jane is a graduating senior at UC Berkeley, majoring in Integrative Biology and minoring in Education with the intent of becoming a physician some day.

Being a very active student in school, she serves as a resident assistant in the residence halls during the semester. As a mentor and role model for her residents, she spends most of her time in the residence halls carrying out large-scaled programs or small activities with residents that are intended to aid them in transitioning to college life. On campus, Jane is Editor in Chief of a science, society, and law journal, The Triple Helix. Being in charge of production and publication, she attends annual leadership conferences with other chapters at different schools across the country. Aside from campus-related activities, Jane volunteers her time at the Epstein research lab at the Children’s Hospital of Oakland Research Institute, helping with the identification of the activation and suppression of genes that lead to skin cancer. She has also been heavily involved with a local YMCA after-school program for the past years, dedicating her time serving the underserved low income community.

Jane spends her leisure time studying photography and hanging out with friends and family as she greatly enjoys being in the company of others. Every weekend after volunteering at a local Kaiser Permanente she visits her father who lives close to Berkeley.

Photo of Angelina GarciaAngelina Garcia
American River College

Angelina Garcia is a recent graduate of American River College with an A.S. in Math/Physics, an A.S. in General Science, and an A.A. in Liberal Arts. She will begin her education at UC Davis in Fall 2011 as a Biological Science major with an emphasis in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior as well as a minor in Communication. While attending ARC, Angelina was a proud member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, as well as AMSA ARC.

Angelina grew up in Sacramento, CA and is the oldest of five children. She works in Roseville at a retirement community called Sierra Regency, and has also enjoyed working as an Organic Chemistry Beacon group tutor at ARC. In her free time, Angelina enjoys running, yoga, camping, and spending time with family and friends. She has spent several years volunteering for the Sacramento SPCA, as well as for a mentoring program called Roots and Horizons, where she has had the privilege of a one year match with an eleven year old girl.

Angelina has found her participation in this surgical internship program to be of the most amazing experiences of her life, and urges anyone interested in medicine to apply. She is interested in a career based on women’s health, and hopes to work as a women’s health care provider in an underserved area where she can become a true advocate for disease prevention.

Photo of Kim HarrisonKim Harrison
Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo

Kim Harrison recently graduated from Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo with a B.S. in Biological Sciences and minor in Psychology. She calls Loomis, CA home, but will always have a soft spot for the SLO life. Kim loved studying biology and found she had a knack for staring through microscopes for hours on end in her histology class. Research efforts included investigating local cases of Tick Bourne Relapsing Fever, and the effect of parasites on carotenoid content in sand crabs. She also participated in a summer internship at NEOUCOM to study drug delivery in cancer medication. Not only a science nerd, she explored unique courses like beekeeping, and took advantage of the many nearby hiking trails.

Her interest in healthcare started with a presentation by Doctors without Borders, and the realization that a physician’s work can extend far beyond the walls of a hospital. She explored community and medicine by working with the public health department, and with involvement in an organization that runs mobile health clinics in South America. She also served her community by volunteering at a nearby hospital and managed the student volunteers there for the past year and a half.

Kim plans to apply to medical school this coming summer, and in the mean time will join the hoards of college graduates looking for a job. Currently, she’s enjoying the Nor Cal she’s been missing, and eating as many Newcastle mandarins as possible!

Photo of Carolyn HoCarolyn Ho
University of California, Davis

Carolyn Ho was born and raised in San Jose, California. During her early years in elementary school, Carolyn discovered her strong interest in the sciences and continued to perform miniature experiments throughout her summer breaks at home. Yet, it was not until her first year at UCLA when her father was diagnosed with cancer that she seriously considered pursuing a medical career.

Due to her father’s medical condition, Carolyn transferred to De Anza Community College near San Jose to be closer to her family while attempting to learn more about the environment in various hospitals and clinics. Over the past few years, she has spent time as a volunteer at both O’Connor Hospital and Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in order to help out the patients and staff and gain further experience in the medical field. Through her interactions with the various individuals in these community service activities, Carolyn has further strengthened her passion in medicine.

Currently, she is a third-year transfer student at UC Davis majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and has recently become a member of the Prytanean Women’s Honor Society. Once she finishes her undergraduate studies, Carolyn plans to continue through medical school and become an OB/GYN with a subspecialty in Mother/Fetus Medicine. In her free moments, she loves to spend time with her family and friends. When not found in the company of others, Carolyn enjoys reading and dabbling in the arts through poetry writing, sketching, and playing her ocarina.

Photo of Rachel JensenRachel Jensen
University of California, Davis

Rachel Jensen graduated from Miramonte High School in 2010 and is currently in her second year at UC Davis majoring in Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. She grew up in Orinda, California with her mother, father, and younger brother. In her free time, she enjoys painting, working with children, spending time with family and friends, movies, running, and being involved.

Throughout high school, Rachel worked as a summer camp counselor for children in San Francisco’s Chinatown where she attends church. This community work instilled a strong desire to pursue a career that would allow her to work closely with people and benefit her community. In her first year at UC Davis, Rachel discovered physiology and neurobiology and was hooked. This past summer she worked as an intern research assistant at Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research on a clinical trial assessing the effects of vitamin C on markers of chronic inflammation. This experience reinforced her interest in working with patients and provided insight into conducting human research in the health care setting. For Rachel, medicine represents an incredibly challenging yet rewarding opportunity to continually learn in her field, to apply her training and skills to help others, and to serve her community.

Rachel is very excited to be interning at the UC Davis Medical Center and gaining further insight into what it means to be a physician.

Photo of Michael JungMichael Jung
University of San Francisco
University of California, Davis

Michael Jung currently lives in Davis, California but occasionally visits his parents and three sisters at the family home in San Rafael.

After graduating from De La Salle High School with High Honors, he attended the University of San Francisco. Michael gradually realized that USF was not in tune with his ambitions and, as of Fall 2011, transferred to UC Davis where he is majoring in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior and minoring in Human Physiology. Even at a young age, Michael has always been passionate about the sciences, especially in regards to the human body. During his high school years, Michael volunteered at the local hospital but wanted a more in-depth look at a career in surgery. The UC Davis Pre-Medical Surgical Internship and Mentorship Program was exactly what he was looking for in terms of exposure to this exciting field of medicine and he is honored for being given the chance to participate in this program. He is also extremely appreciative of everything that his professors have done and taught him.

Michael Jung is currently spending his free time preparing for his first quarter as a UC Davis transfer student and ensuring that he does not epically fail on his bike, publicly.
Photo of Christopher Khoury

Christopher Khoury
Saint Mary’s College of California

Christopher was born in Redwood City California in 1989 during the memorable earthquake that shook the bay area.  He was raised in Milpitas as the second child of four and spent his childhood immersed in sports as well as his academics.  During the summer after Chris’ sophomore year at Milpitas High, his family moved to Pleasanton where he attended Foothill High.  During High School, Chris participated on the soccer and varsity baseball teams.

Chris then chose to attend Saint Mary’s College of California to pursue his BS in Biochemistry with a minor in Theology and Religious Studies.  It was here at Saint Mary’s where Chris made the dean’s list while he matured into an adult and found his passion for science as well as medicine, while also being a part of the making of the college’s first men’s club soccer team.  Christopher is a TA in General Chemistry after receiving the CRC award for top student in his own General Chemistry class.  Chris is also a Health Educator in Peer Health Exchange program at Saint Mary’s, traveling to High Schools in Oakland to teach an HIV and STIs workshop to teenage students.  Also while at Saint Mary’s he has taken a prestigious leadership role on campus, becoming a Resident Advisor and being on the frontline of the student residents’ interaction with their college.

Christopher spends a majority of his time at his church, where he has helped establish one of the strongest youth groups in the diocese, participating in fund raisers, volunteer events and lifetime bonding activities.  Christopher is the co-director of athletics for his church, managing and coaching two high school teams and one adult basketball team in the Orthodox Youth Athletic Association.  It is Christopher’s dream to become a doctor and help those who are less fortunate than himself.  Christopher is deeply honored to be a part of this once in a lifetime experience as a pre-medical surgical intern at the UC Davis Medical Center.

Christine Kwong
University of California, Davis

Christine Kwong is a 21-year-old Chinese American currently completing her last quarter at UC Davis as a Biological Sciences major with an emphasis in Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. She was born and raised in Sacramento as a middle child with two brothers. Alongside being a full-time student, she also works at the UC Davis Lung Cancer Research Laboratory as an intern for Chris Mahaffey Ph.D, whom is a researcher studying the p53 gene within lung cancer patients.  In addition, Christine is also a proud member of the LGBT community and actively participates in the LGBT activities and organizations on campus.  For example, she is currently a mentor for the Queer Mentorship Program at UC Davis, with hopes to be able to provide support, advise, and friendship to queer individuals in need of guidance.

Christine enjoys staying active everyday and dedicates herself equally to all of her commitments. Although she is a full time student with two internships, she still tries her best to find time to help the smaller, more local fundraisers and community organizations within Davis. Christine also enjoys painting/drawing whenever she can and tries her very best to spend as much time as possible with her family.

Christine’s hero and mentor is her mother, Mary Lew, who gives her the motivation and encouragement to pursue her dreams no matter how many obstacles may arise. Christine plans to graduate in March of 2011 and hopes to continue her education through medical school in hopes of achieving a life career within the medical field.

Photo of Lee Lankford

Lee Lankford
California State University, Sacramento

Lee Lankford is a 25 year old recent graduate of CSU Sacramento as well as a full-time employee at the Java City corporate warehouse in Natomas.  In his free time he enjoys playing guitar, reading, as well as spending time with friends and family.  Lee was born in Sacramento and grew up in a town just south of there called Elk Grove, where he attended elementary school through high school before moving into Sacramento to pursue an undergraduate degree in Biology at CSU Sacramento.  Growing up in Elk Grove helped shape Lee into the person he is today.  During his elementary through high school years he spent most of his time playing various sports such as baseball, soccer, and football.

In 2006 Lee attended the International Scholar Laureate Program Delegation on Medicine in China, which was an educational trip throughout many areas of China where he was given basic classes on the Chinese health care system as well as various forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  This trip not only sparked in Lee a great enjoyment of traveling, but also was his first step in deciding to dedicate his life to becoming a physician.  Since this time Lee has steadily put forth great effort to continue to grow academically and as a full-time employee.  He has also devoted over 120 hours as a volunteer at Sutter Memorial Hospital in Sacramento, as well as maintained an active role in the UC Davis Dept. of Surgery Pre-Medical Surgical Internship, both as an intern as well as a Student Outreach Coordinator among other activities.

Currently, he is pursing admission to a graduate program at CSU Sacramento and is hoping to continue his journey on to medical school once obtaining a Master’s degree.

Photo of Aaron LeeAaron Lee
University of California, Davis

Aaron attended UC Davis where he majored in Psychology with a bio emphasis. As an undergraduate he began working with Professor Nolan Zane on a study looking at the effects of sociocultural effects on problem gambling and other outcomes.  Concurrently, he was able to get a taste of MRI research by being a pilot subject in fMRI and ERP studies looking at brain activation in decision-making tasks. In 2005, because of his strong interest in the brain and the underlying biological substrates of behavioral disorders Aaron made the jump over to the UCD MIND Institute where he worked as the manager for the Computational Neuroimaging Laboratory where he both helped to develop new protocols for the volumetric analysis of specific brain regions and trained individuals from various affiliated laboratories in established protocols. In 2009 he joined the Autism Phenome Project as a Junior Specialist on the MRI team searching for differences in brain structures between children with autism and their typically developing peers.

Outside of work, Aaron is an avid kendo (Japanese “fencing”) practitioner and is currently an assistant coach for the UC Davis Kendo Club. He also has had a lifelong affinity for art and design and occasionally finds the time to draw and paint.

Photo of Christopher James LittleChristopher James Little
American River College

Christopher Little was born on October 30th, 1989 in Sacramento, CaliforniaHe attended Rio Americano High School until graduation in 2008. After graduating Rio American he decided to go to American River College. By his second semester at American River College he had decided to major in Biology and attend medical school. He expects to transfer to UC Davis for the Fall 2012 semester, and he will major in Neurobiology: Physiology and Behavior.

For medical school he is most interested in attending UC Davis School of Medicine, UCSF, UCLA, or Stanford School of Medicine, but is certainly open to other options. As far as particular interest, he is most interested in the nervous system, and has given thought to potentially becoming a Neurologist or a Neurosurgeon, but is once again, open to an new ideas that may arise.

Aside from this internship, this semester he is taking Zoology, Organic Chemistry, and IDS which is a class for new tutors. He is also, as implied, a new tutor this semester for General Chemistry, and although he was at first nervous about the idea of teaching Chemistry to others, he has so far found it to be both challenging and rewarding. It also gives him a great opportunity to review material that will be on the MCAT at some point for him.

Aside from school he has several interests in his life. He is a frequent runner. He runs several miles daily. His favorite places to run are along the American River Trail, on the horse trail, and along roads he has yet to run on. His ultimate goal in running is to run a marathon at some point. He is also a very big baseball fan. He is a big fan of the San Francisco Giants, and of The Oakland A’s, one of the few to like both teams.

Photo of Kevin LiKevin Li
University of California, Davis

Kevin Li is a 19 year old junior transfer student currently attending UC Davis. He hails from San Francisco, California after attending high school at Lowell and two years of community college at CCSF. At Lowell he played football for four years and was a Inter-club Council Member for a Pre-Medical club at CCSF. During the summer before transferring to Davis he took part in the Summer Medical and Dental Educational Program at UCLA and loved every single minute of interacting with like minded people and medical professionals.

At Davis, Kevin is majoring in Exercise Biology due to his love for sports. Even after multiple major injuries, he believes that sports are worth the dedication. From his many visits to the emergency room, athletic trainers, and an orthopaedic surgeon, he believes his calling is in sport’s medicine.

Orthopedic Surgery is his dream profession. Even though it will take years and years he believes that a passion to learn about the medical field and the responsibilities it entails will keep him on his path. He is excited to be chosen to take part of the Pre-Medical Surgical Internship and hopes that everyone will enjoy it as much as he does.

Photo of Mikhail MelnikMikhail Melnik
American River College

Mikhail Melnik is a second year college student who is attending American River College. He was born in Novovolinsk, Ukraine. A year and a half later after his birth, he and his family moved to Sacramento, California and had stayed in the area ever since. Mikhail has two sisters, both born in Ukraine, and two brothers, both born in America.

While in High School, Mikhail volunteered at Mercy San Juan Medical Center. After a couple of shifts, Mikhail saw the way doctors performed their jobs and the kind nature they had for their patients. This inspired Mikhail to become a doctor and he has wanted to become one ever since. In June of 2009, Mikhail graduated from Casa Roble Fundamental High School and applied to American River College, which he subsequently began attending in the spring of 2009. He has been there ever since and has plans of attaining a baccalaureate in chemistry. After earning his baccalaureate, he wishes to apply to medical school and become a medical doctor who specializes in neurology.

Halfway into his first semester, Mikhail was introduced to AMSA ARC by a counselor after she learned he wanted to become a doctor. Initially, he simply paid the fee and did not involve himself in the club. But, after the second semester started, a friend of his persuaded him to go to one of the meetings, and he continued attending them ever since. Soon after, Mikhail applied to the premedical surgical internship program at UC Davis. He was excited at the prospect of shadowing surgeons since he has an interest in becoming a neurosurgeon. After the interview, Mikhail was excited to learn that he was accepted to the fall 2010 session of the program and has been waiting to start ever since.

Yelena Mikityanskaya
University of San Francisco

Yelena Mikityanskaya was born and raised in Kharkov, Ukraine.  After moving to San Francisco with her loving parents and older brother Yelena began studying at the University High School of San Francisco.  After high school Yelena went on to study at the University of San Francisco.

Yelena graduated from USF with honors in 2009 with a major in psychology and a minor in natural science and another in neuroscience.  While attending USF, Yelena taught art history at the Berkeley Russian School during weekends.  During the week Yelena split her time between volunteering at the California Pacific Medical Center labor and delivery department and doing sporadic and familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis research in the department of neuroscience at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute.

Yelena is currently working as a physiology, psychology and art history instructor at Heald College which primarily serves disadvantaged individuals.  She is also finishing up a certification program in phlebotomy and electrocardiography at the Bay Area Medical Academy because she wants to work in hospitals in addition to volunteering there.

Yelena is very grateful to be part of the Pre-Medical Surgical Internship Program and is eagerly looking forward to learning more about the different types of medical staff involved in the surgical team as well as their unique responsibilities.  Armed with the information that she will learn throughout this program, Yelena is sure that she can make a better informed decision about the opportunities that are available in the world of medicine and the path that she should take in the future to achieve her goal of providing excellent medical care to those in need of it.

Photo of Erica NeuhausErica Neuhaus
University of California, Merced

Erica Neuhaus graduated from the University of California, Merced in 2010 as part of the second full graduating class. She graduated with honors and earned a B.S. in Biology with a minor in History. By attending the university in only its second year of instruction, she was able to partake in the development and creation of the UC Merced community. As a member of the inaugural volleyball team, as well as the teams during her remaining years at UCM, Erica enjoyed being part of the dedicated group of athletes who were able to build up the sports department. Erica was also a Resident Assistant for three years, enjoying the opportunity to work with students from a wide range of backgrounds. Being part of such a new campus allowed Erica the opportunity to watch the university grow not only with the number of students, but in character and traditions.

Erica has always dreamed of a career within the medical field. After volunteering in the Emergency Department of Mercy Medical Center, Merced for two years, she knew that she wanted to enter another program to get her more exposed to medicine. Erica has enjoyed participating in this internship since Fall 2010, and is looking forward to the vast experiences she will encounter through another term. She is excited to be more involved with the program and its development. Erica is one of the Scheduling Coordinators for the program, and looks forward to working with a new group during this next cycle.

Photo of Thong NguyenThong Nguyen
Sacramento City College

Thong Nguyen was born and raised in Vietnam. He came to the United States in 2007 with his mother and the little sister. As the oldest son and only man in family, he has been the breadwinner of the family. Even though this role represents him to tremendous challenges, it teaches him to become mature, responsible, determined and strong minded so that he can overcome the language difficulties, cultural difference and other obstacles.

Thong is currently taking classes at Sacramento City College (SCC) to finish the pre-med prerequisites and preparing to transfer to U.C Davis in Fall 2011 with the major in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and minor in Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. Inspired from previous teaching experience at his church, he works as math and organic chemistry tutor at SCC. Thong is also the student technical assistant at SCC’s Chemistry Stockroom where he helps prepare chemicals for each lab and conducts HPLC analysis of lavender, orange peel, etc.

His interest in medicine was fueled from his mother who had worked as a nurse for 28 year since he saw the humane aspect in her work when she was helping the patients. Also, the death of his grandpa due to brain cancer motivated him to pursue the field studying about cancer and become the Oncologist.

In the free time, Thong enjoys reading, jogging, and playing bowling with his sister. He is also the Lakers’ fan and has not been missing any of its games. He is very family-oriented and likes to spend time with his family. While waiting to volunteer at the U.C Davis Medical Center- Oncology Department, Thong is exciting and grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Pre-Med Surgical Internship as he hopes to gain insight about surgeon’s life and perspective.


Photo of Ivonne PalmaIvonne Palma
University of California, Davis

Ivonne Palma was born in San Jose, CA. She is the oldest of two children, has a four year younger sister. Both her parents were born in Nicaragua, and came to United States escaping the war and communism there. She graduated Pioneer High School in 2008. All through high school, she knew that she wanted to major in science, but it wasn’t until her senior year while taking physiology that she decided that she wanted to become a doctor.

She was not accepted to her dream school, which was UC Davis decided to go to a community college in Cupertino, CA called De Anza College. While there she fulfilled all her General Education classes and finished her requirements to transfer to UC Davis as a Biological Science major. Ivonne was able to transfer to UC Davis in two years while normally it would take three years to transfer out. Ivonne was able to prove wrong her counselor who did not believe she could do it.

While at UC Davis, Ivonne continued her studies, never losing focus on her goal which is to become a orthopedic doctor. Outside of her studies, Ivonne volunteers at Kaiser Permanente, discharging patients from the hospital and delivering flowers to the patients. She believes that when you help others, you also help yourself. Ivonne is very big in volunteering and has done over 500 hours. She enjoys on her spare time to visit art museums and learn about different cultures.

Currently Ivonne is a fourth year student at UC Davis, with a major of Biological Sciences with an emphasis in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior. She plans to apply for medical school in 2012. She is excited for this opportunity because it will give her insight to the life of doctor in a day in the hospital and she learn as much so she can be successful in the medical field.

Photo of Jessica RicafortAxana Rodriguez-Torres
California State University, Sacramento

Axana currently studies at California State University, Sacramento, and also takes classes at American River College. Her major is Biology with concentration in Biomedical Sciences and will also double-major in Psychology. Axana is fully in love with Medicine. She has been a Medical student in her home country, Colombia, where she did half of the Medical Program before postponing it for family reasons.

She is highly self-motivated, goal oriented and has persevered through several challenges to be where she is today. The standard she sets for herself has not allowed her to give up on her dream. Once she came to the United States, it was very difficult to continue studying because of economic reasons so she stopped for several years. However, after that, she restarted from the Undergraduate level while looking for entrance into a US Medical School. Medicine is the reason and drive of her life. She will make every possible effort to achieve that dream.

Axana is also currently volunteering at the UCDMC at both Oncology Department and Interpreting Services. The combination of having such great passion for Medicine and helping people with their health and wellbeing fulfills her life completely. Knowing that she can be of service to others is a great accomplishment for her. Having the opportunity of participating in the UC Davis Pre-Medical Surgical Internship and Mentorship Program is a great opportunity and a milestone for her Medical career. This represents a highly significant way in which her dream starts to become true.

Photo of Steven RussoSteven Russo
University of California, Davis

Steven Russo grew up in Livermore CA, with his supportive mother and father and two older brothers. His family enjoys taking trips to various locations, rebuilding classic cars, and going on outdoor adventures such as boating, biking, and snowboarding. Steven is very active and likes spending time with his friends, family, and dog, Wally. Steven was raised to always strive for the best and to give his best effort in everything he does.

Throughout his life, he has followed through with these values by being a leader on his soccer and track teams since childhood. He has also become an active member in his community by being involved with different volunteer opportunities. His consideration for others and interest in the sciences and medical field has lead him to a goal of becoming a physician. Through his opportunities he has experienced working with children as both a youth and high school soccer coach, as well as volunteering as an in-home exercise instructor with senior citizens. Steven has recently shadowed a sports medicine physician, where he has gained clinical experience as well as sparked an interest for the field. These experiences, along with his admiration for outdoor activities and sports have shaped the path he intends to follow. With excitement, Steven is looking forward to his future education at UC Davis and what is to come.

Photo of Zoe SaenzZoe Saenz
San Francisco State University

Zoe Saenz was born in San Jose, CA, where she grew up with a supportive family including her mom, dad, and stepparents. While attending Branham High School, she was extremely active participating in cheerleading, dance team, musical theatre productions, and leadership. She then set her sights on college and was accepted into San Francisco State University, where she became a first generation college student.

Currently, Zoe is a senior at SFSU working towards her B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Physiology. Although she has always been fascinated with the natural and life sciences, it wasn’t until she enrolled in a Human Anatomy course at SFSU that she was inspired to focus her interests and work towards attending medical school to become a physician. During the course of the class not only did she meet her mentor, she also became fascinated with the complexity and brilliance of the human body and the art of dissection. Upon her successful completion of the course, Zoe became a teaching assistant for the course and a member of the American Association of Anatomists.

She also volunteers in several Bay Area programs, like the Peer Educators Advocating Campus Health (PEACH) Program with a focus on nutrition, the Hospitality Program at Seton Medical Center, where she helps advocate for patient comfort by providing hand massages, meditation, etc., and a research internship offered through UCSF-SFSU Clinical Research in Emergency Medicine Internship at SF General.

Her other interests include reading, cross-stitching, dancing, attending Broadway shows, and watching movies of all genres. She is grateful for the opportunity to be an intern in the Surgical Program this spring.

Brianna Slatnick
University of California, Davis

Brianna Slatnick is a third-year Microbiology major at UC Davis. She began interning with the Pre-Medical Surgical Internship Program last spring. When it proved to be one of the most defining and rewarding experiences in her pre-medical career, she decided to continue as a Surgical Fellow to help afford other pre-medical students the same experience. Brianna now serves as the Evaluations Coordinator and works on the application committee to select new pre-medical students for the program.

In her free time Brianna enjoys traveling, scuba diving, crocheting, ceramics, eating sushi, and going on random adventures. She loves ice cream, and will eat it at any time of the day. This past summer she spent 7 weeks working at a clinic in Costa Rica, learning Spanish and living with a host family. Her clinic routines helped reveal the gaping disparities between medical care offered in the United States and abroad. She hopes to help bridge this gap by continuing to provide medical care abroad and building a medical career centered on giving service wherever she can to others in need. She loves being around people, and believes that medical care is most beneficial when paired with strong patient-doctor relationships. She is very dedicated to her schoolwork, and has known she wanted to become a doctor since her freshman year of high school. To her, medicine is like solving a puzzle; She loves the satisfaction she gets from figuring things out and craves the ability to ensure others that she is doing everything she can to help. She is not sure what medical specialty she wishes to pursue yet, but she is very interested in the field of surgery.

At UC Davis, Brianna is currently a physics tutor for the Student Academic Success Center. She is excited to continue expanding the Pre-Medical Surgical Internship Program and offer this wonderful opportunity to other enthusiastic pre-medical students.

Photo of David VelezDavid Velez
University of Nevada, Reno

David Velez is a 22 year old senior at the University of Nevada, Reno. He was born in Sacramento and raised in Cameron Park, CA. He is majoring in biology with minors in both math and analytical chemistry.

He is currently a member of the anatomy dissection team. As a member of this team he helps to dissect cadavers for the university’s anatomy classes so that the students can better visualize and understand the anatomy of the human body. He also helps to teach one of the weekly anatomy labs.

David has also been very active in many leadership positions. He was both treasurer and then president of the UNR Men’s Rugby team. He was then elected president of the club sports council. Then he was hired to his current position as the sports and recreation club commissioner for the Associated Students of the University of Nevada. As commissioner he assists the leadership of the club sports on campus. He is also a member of the council that allocates funds to all of the campus clubs and organizations.

David also plays lock for the UNR Men’s Rugby team. He volunteers at the Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada, St. Vincent’s Food Pantry. He is also a member of many campus clubs; including AMSA, NSLS, etc. He also enjoys reading, baseball, wakeboarding, snowboarding, hiking, and anything active.

David is extremely excited about being given this wonderful opportunity and looks forward to participating in this great program.

Photo of Adam YenKristopher Waring
University of California, Davis

Kristopher Waring was born in Lakewood, CA. He recently graduated from UC Davis with a degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He began his college course work at Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, CA where he remained undecided about his future while taking general education courses. After an introductory course in Biology, he became fascinated with science and the human body and decided to pursue a career in medicine. Prior to transferring to UC Davis, Kris sought to gain medical experience by becoming certified as a Medical Assistant and worked at a private medical office in Brentwood, CA.

Prior to applying to medical school, Kris plans to take a year off to travel and enjoy some free time with friends and family. Outside of academics, Kris enjoys staying physically active by hiking and practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Brentwood, CA. Kris hopes to practice medicine in the field of Neurology, but he realizes his mind may change through the course of the Surgical Internship and after finishing medical school. Kris is continually reminded of how much support he has received from friends and family and is grateful for the opportunity to follow his dreams of success in medicine.


The following students, were selected for the summer program.

Photo of David AndersonLisa Blankenship 
Michigan State University

Lisa Blankenship and her younger brother were raised by their mother in a small town in northern Michigan. After graduating from Michigan State University with a B.S. in Zoology, where she earned high honors, she spent the next several years working on various wildlife research projects. Lisa’s work took her to California, Oregon, Kenya, and Costa Rica in order to study birds of prey, waterbirds, hyenas, and monkeys.

However, after several years of research in remote locations, Lisa realized that she was missing the variety of interactions and the fulfillment that comes from working with people. With inspiration from her mother, who had graduated from nursing school at the age of 50, Lisa began to carefully examine what qualities made up her ideal career.  She came to realize that the medical field held many of the qualities that she was looking for; it is a quickly progressing field with the opportunity to work with people and the potential to be a positive influence in their lives. After exploring medicine through college classes, volunteering, and shadowing several physicians, Lisa realized that she had found her passion. Despite being a non-traditional student, she decided that the hard work and dedication necessary to become a doctor would be completely worth it.

Lisa is currently living in San Francisco and works full-time in human resources at a non-profit that supports the local national parks.  In her free time, she likes to read, go for bike rides, and play with her two dogs.

Stephanie Brooks
California State University, Chico
University of California, Davis School of Law

Stephanie Brooks was born in Northern California. She is the second of four children raised by two loving parents. Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in biological sciences from California State University, Chico. She began working in the medical field as an undergraduate student. While working as the office manager for a busy obstetrics and gynecology practice, she witnessed the powerful impact that physicians have. A lifelong learner, she received an MBA and graduated with distinction from California State University, Chico. As she gained increased exposure to the health care system, she was motivated to pursue remedies for disparities in our current health care environment. Stephanie received a juris doctorate degree from University of California, Davis School of Law. Since graduation, she has worked extensively with the Independent Medical Review process of California, and she oversees appeals, provider disputes and clinical reviews for several states. In her free time, Stephanie enjoys traveling and learning about other cultures. Stephanie is very grateful for the opportunity to participate in the University of California Davis Pre-Medical Surgical Internship & Mentorship Program and looks forward to this amazing learning experience.

Photo of Shaara ArgoRebecca Campbell 
Seattle University

Rebecca Campbell is a Junior at Seattle University majoring in Diagnostic Ultrasound, with a minor in Biology.  Sonography provides Rebecca a chance to gain experience in a hospital setting as she prepares for entrance into medical school.  Her background in Vascular Ultrasound and Echocardiography has piqued her interest in cardiovascular medicine.

Rebecca’s most recent experience in the Dominican Republic is what led her to surgery.  Through an organization called Children of the Nations, she joined a medical team; assisting in surgeries for underprivileged, homeless children.  This eye-opening trip shifted Rebecca’s plans to explore the UC Davis Internship and the possibility of becoming a surgeon.

Rebecca’s involvement in two research opportunities gave her a look at another aspect of medicine.  She worked at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and as an undergraduate intern at Amgen, Inc.  Rebecca was able to see what is being done in research to find breakthroughs for combating disease.

Rebecca is very active in her campus community.  She currently serves as an officer for Seattle University’s Pre-Health Club.  She also enjoys her roles as a peer mentor for the Science and Engineering department and working as a teacher’s assistant for Anatomy labs.  Rebecca is a member of the Association of Women in Science (AWIS)—a group that was influential in her decision to pursue a science-related field.  As a result, she gives back by mentoring other young women and promoting their involvement in science and math.

Photo of Alexander BeletskyJason Ching
University of California, Davis

Jason Ching is a first year studying Neurobiology at University of California Davis. He grew up in West Covina, Los Angeles with loving parents, his Toishanese-speaking grandmother, and two younger brothers. During his high school years, Jason dedicated much of his time towards activities such as serving his church as a praise band leader, working as a library tutor for his school, and playing varsity tennis.

Coming into college, Jason found ways to spend his time outside of his studies.  He volunteers four hours a week at the Yolo Crisis Nursery, which is a children’s nursing home geared towards assisting families with financial difficulties. He also helped found a club with some of his friends called Students Tutoring Students, which provides an environment in which students that have done well in their science courses can assist students who are struggling.

Through the Pre-surgical Internship Program, Jason anticipates gaining a firsthand experience of the work of a surgeon, and hopes that his hospital experience can serve as a strong motivation for him to become a physician.

Lauren Croda
Yale University

Lauren is an entering four-year at Yale University, studying Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology.  During the summer of 2011, Lauren attended the Pembroke-Kings Programme, involving four months of classes at the University of Cambridge in England.  During this study abroad period, she studied neuropharmacology and became fascinated with neurobiology.  Currently, she researches plasticity in the auditory cortex of mice through the McCormick Neurobiology Lab at the Yale School of Medicine

Lauren believes medicine and teaching go hand-in-hand and has been teaching children to aid her future healthcare career.  She taught middle school at Head Royce in the summer of 2010, creating curriculum and leading classes on energy and environmental science. Lauren currently teaches in third grade classrooms at a local elementary school in New Haven, running science lessons in the morning hours before classes.

In her free time, Lauren loves traveling, sports, and baking. She took a backpacking trip on her own through Western Europe, staying in various hostels and traveling to ten countries.  Lauren also is involved in an exchange program with students from Shimada, Japan and lived with a Japanese family for a few weeks.  Lauren played soccer from the age of five, but also enjoys more extreme sports, such as skydiving.  Lauren attends pastry school, runs the student kitchen, and cooks at a restaurant in Point Richmond.

Lauren moved to Connecticut in 2009 for school, but grew up in the East Bay area.  Out of her seven siblings, Lauren was the only child to leave California for college.  She comes from an extensive line of UC Davis attendees (including her great uncles, great aunts, and grandparents), and was excited to join the program at UC Davis and continue the legacy.  She is interested in pediatric care and is currently applying to medical school for the 2013 academic year.

Jason Compton
University of California, Davis

Jason Compton will be a double major in Art Studio and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of California, Davis in the fall of 2012. He is transferring from Delta College where he won the award for Outstanding Student of the Science and Mathematics Division for the year 2011. While there, Jason enjoyed working as a tutor of general and organic chemistry, anatomy, and physiology. He is eager to apply to medical school and plans to pursue the field of Surgical Oncology so that he can help patients and families dealing with cancer.

His involvement in the arts, in addition to his interest in anatomy and physiology, allows Jason to work as an illustrator for Dr. Thomas Adamson, a physiology instructor at Delta College. He has worked closely with Dr. Adamson to illustrate figures for the work book used to instruct the physiology classes. Jason has also won awards for his paintings and has been involved in multiple art galleries in the San Joaquin region.

Cory Dearborn
Mills College
California State university, Chico

Cory Dearborn is a native of California, growing up in Ukiah and moving to Chico after high school to pursue a degree in music.  After finishing his graduate degree in music in 2005, he taught band, choir and classroom music at Williams Unified School District.  While teaching at Williams Unified, Cory joined the Army National Guard and attended basic training during the summer between school years.

Following six years of teaching, Cory realized that he needed a greater supply of academic challenges to satisfy his need to learn and grow as a student of life.  He and his wife decided to leave their careers in music education, move from Northern California to the Bay Area, and start a new journey.  Having been fascinated with science from childhood, Cory enrolled at Mills College in the post baccalaureate pre-med certificate program with the ultimate goal of becoming a physician in the military.

Cory is about to begin his second year at Mills with his wife, who is also in the pre-med surgical intern program.  He performs in the 59th Army Band for the Governor and other state functions, in addition to being ready for the call to duty.  In his free time he practices Sin Moo Hapkido and Taekwando, holding first and second degree black belts in each, respectively.  He currently lives in Hayward, California with his wife, Heidi, and his two dogs and cat, Nelly, Reggie, and Penny.

Photo of Ya-Ting ChenHeidi Dearborn
Mills College

Heidi Dearborn graduated from California State University, Chico in 2006 with a Master in Art in Music and in 2004 with a Bachelor in Art in Music.  After her graduation in 2006, she taught at Butte Community College, was a kindergarten and third grade classroom music teacher for the Children’s Choir of Chico, taught private flute lessons, and actively performed in the North State Area.

Ms. Dearborn joined the Det. 1 40th (59th Army) Band otherwise known as “The Governor’s Own” in Sacramento, California in 2009.  As a member of the 59th Army Band she was the 2010 Army Band Soldier of the year and a recipient of the 2010 Colonel Finley R. Hamilton Outstanding Military Musician Award.  Ms. Dearborn was also the Distinguished Honor Graduate of her Warrior Leadership Course in January 2012.

After joining the military, Ms. Dearborn was inspired to pursue a career in medicine with the desire to serve as a military physician.  She is now a post-baccalaureate pre-medical student at Mills College where she is also a biology teaching assistant. Ms. Dearborn is excited by the opportunity to participate in the Pre-medical Surgical Internship and believes it will be an invaluable experience.

Baljot Dhoot
University of California, Berkeley

Baljot Dhoot was born in Sacramento, California and raised in Yuba City, California, where she lives as a middle child with her parents and two brothers. She graduated from Yuba City High School as a valedictorian before beginning her undergraduate studies at University of California, Berkeley in the fall of 2011. She just finished her first year at UC Berkeley as an intended Molecular and Cell Biology major.

She loves working with children and mentoring youth and hopes to specialize in Pediatrics. At UC Berkeley she is part of the American Red Cross at Cal Club and a member of its Youth Committee. As a member of the committee she goes with groups to Bay Area elementary schools to teach First Aid and Disaster Preparedness. In addition, she mentors a high school student through a cultural club on campus. During the summers, Baljot is employed as a tutor at an education center where she enjoys working with students of all ages and backgrounds.

Baljot was inspired to enter the field of medicine by personal interactions with physicians, especially her pediatrician. She is honored to have been chosen for the Pre-Medical Surgical Internship and is thrilled to have the opportunity to explore medicine from the perspective of a physician.

Anna Fang
Yale University

Anna is currently an Economics and Math major as well as a pre-medical student at Yale University. She was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and graduated from Phillips Academy Andover in 2010. She is the second of three girls.

Throughout her academic formation, Anna has focused on teaching as a way to serve the community. At Phillips Academy Anna served as the General Coordinator of the school’s community service program, following her leadership role in a writing workshop at a local public school. At Yale, she has continued to volunteer as a Community Health Educator, teaching local high school students about drug abuse. She is also looking forward to working as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT-B) on campus.

Coming from a multiracial family, Anna believes that travel is of the utmost importance. Her international experiences include teaching English in China and studying abroad in Madrid, Spain to attain fluency in Spanish. Anna discovered her passion for health through an internship with Hospice Africa Uganda in Kampala, Uganda. As an intern, she assisted in pharmacy work, joined nurses on home visits, and attended case conferences and clinical team meetings. Following this experience, Anna chose to complete the pre-medical requirements in addition to continuing with her major. She looks to international organizations such as Partners in Health as advocates of the type of work she hopes to do as a physician; specifically, Anna hopes to use her future skills to improve health care in her father’s hometown in rural China.

Outside of the classroom, soccer and running have continued to be a source of energy and joy in Anna’s life. She considers playing for the Yale women’s club soccer team a wonderful way to maintain a balanced life-style and spend time with her friends. Anna ran her first marathon in Barcelona in the spring of 2012, an experience she regards as one of the best moments of her life.

Kevin Gustafson
University of California, Berkeley

Kevin Gustafson was born in San Mateo, California and raised in Fremont, California by his two loving parents. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Integrative Biology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2011. While at Berkeley, Kevin volunteered his weekends to work with Prevent Blindness Northern California, an organization that provides free vision care services to low-income populations around the bay area. He was also an undergraduate student instructor for the human anatomy laboratory class.

He is currently working as a Research Assistant in the Dennis Levi/Roger Li laboratory at the UC Berkeley School of Optometry, studying the effects of visual learning on amblyopia. He has also spent the last three years working as an ophthalmic technician, giving him valuable experience working directly with patients. In his free time, Kevin enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, playing basketball, snowboarding, and biking. He is also an avid photographer who is constantly exploring new techniques and updating his portfolio.

Kevin is honored to be a part of the UCDHS pre-medical surgical internship and hopes to gain a deeper understanding of the lives of surgeons and observe the teamwork amongst hospital staff in caring for patients.

Jessica Hernandez
University of California, Santa Cruz

Jessica Hernandez is a first generation Mexican-American studying at The University of California, Santa Cruz majoring in Health Sciences. Jessica was born in the small town of Oakdale and raised in the ghettos of east San Jose with her older sister and single mother. Throughout her childhood, Jessica witnessed health care disparities and availability issues in her local community inspiring her to pursue a career in medicine.

At the age of ten Jessica’s mother remarried and she became the step-daughter of an American soldier. Within a couple of months the family was moved to Stockton in hopes of a better life. While attending Bear Creek High School Jessica’s mother, uncle, and sister were diagnosed with cancer in the same year. Her sister was then diagnosed with an arachnoid cyst in her hind brain. With these diagnosis came countless hours in hospitals and anxious waiting rooms. These experiences further instilled determination in Jessica to pursue her dream of becoming a physician.

Jessica is the first to attend college in her family and hopes to inspire the younger generation to pursue higher education despite of their background. Currently Jessica is an active member of the ACE Pre-Health community at UCSC and is a student mentor in the biological sciences. She hopes to get involved in research this coming year and to begin volunteering at the SPCA, as she shares a great love for dogs. Apart from academics Jessica finds an outlet through the art of drawing, photography, dancing, and hugging her black 10 year-old lab named Bear.

Gabriella Herrera
Harvard University 

Gabriella Herrera was raised in Tracy, California and was the 2011 Valedictorian at Merrill F. West High School.  Currently she is a freshman at Harvard University studying Neurobiology with a secondary in Ethnic Studies.  She plans on pursuing a career as a neurosurgeon.  One of her longtime personal goals is to join the flying doctors group “Los Médicos Voladores,” which provides free medical care to rural and impoverished areas in Latin America.

Gabriella is an active student on campus.  She is a board member of the Harvard-Radcliffe RAZA club, a member of Fuerza Latina, a member of Latinas Unidas de Harvard College, and is Vice-President of Harvard College Latinos in Health Careers.  Gabriella also celebrates her indigenous roots by being a part of the Native Americans at Harvard College club and Harvard University Native American Program.  Gabriella is also extremely passionate about giving back to her community and to the younger Latino population, and so is a mentor to disadvantaged high school students in the Boston area through the College Access Program at Harvard University.

Currently, Gabriella is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Fellow at Harvard University, where she is conducting neural stem cell research as a possible therapy for cancer.

Kevin Hughes
College of the Holy Cross

Kevin Hughes was born and raised in Braintree, Massachusetts, and lives with his parents and two brothers.  After attending Boston College High School, he enrolled in College of the Holy Cross, in Worcester, Massachusetts.  In addition to being a part of the Health Professions program at the school, Kevin is a Chemistry/Economics double major.  In his free time, Kevin has recently been working as the Founding President of the “Autism Speaks U” College of the Holy Cross chapter.  He has been working to foster interest in the group, and plans to apply to become a Recognized Student Organization next fall.

Outside of his on-campus life, Kevin is looking forward to doing research at a local hospital regarding the structural and biochemical understanding of the ribosome.  In addition, he will begin training to become an EMT after the summer ends.

Although Kevin is not sure what type of surgeon he would like to be, orthopedic and neurosurgery have piqued his interest in his exploration of the medical field.  He hopes to explore both of these fields during his time at UCDMC, as well as come to understand other procedures better.

Cheryl Jordan
California State University, Northridge

Cheryl was born and raised in beautiful Southern California. She grew up in a science friendly household and become involved in the community at a young age as an honorary volunteer at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.  After high school, she went on to earn a degree in Art History from the University of Southern California. In a stroke of luck, she landed a job at DreamWork Studios, SKG and is privileged to have worked on such movies as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and The Help. Although her position in Environmental Health and Safety at DreamWorks was intended to bridge connections and further a career in film production, it helped her realize just how much she missed the science emphasis placed on her youth. In 2010 she began volunteering at the Marine Mammal Care Center at Fort MacArthur rehabilitating seals and sea lions, as well as the Telemetry Department of St. Joseph Hospital.  It was her time at these institutions which inspired her to return to school as a post baccalaureate student at California State University, Northridge and pursue a medical career.

In her free time Cheryl loves to cook, wander museums, crochet and paint. She is also an avid outdoorsman and enjoys long camping trips with her family.

Photo of Lauren CoxJonathan Lavi
University of California, Davis

Jonathan Lavi was born and raised in Sacramento, CA. As the son of a pediatrician, he naturally took interest in medicine at an early age. Jonathan went to school locally, finishing his lower division requirements at American River College before transferring to the University of California, Davis to focus on Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He will graduate in June 2012 and apply to medical school over the summer, with great interest in pursuing family practice and pediatrics, but maintains curiosity of the world of surgery.

Jonathan is a vocal proponent of science-based medicine and critic of unproven alternative medicine. He is committed to spreading scientific awareness and understanding, along with the use of science to help guide the best decisions in medicine and everyday life.

While he is not volunteering and preparing for medical school, he enjoys spending time with his partner Ariel S. Lee, a former Pre-Medical Surgical Intern. He has an unusual fondness for organic chemistry, and loves baking sourdough bread, healthy cooking, and enjoys the challenges and rewards of tending a flourishing vegetable garden on the tiny deck of his second story apartment. One day he hopes to run a small educational farm in his spare time, and keep cows and chickens. In the meantime, he cherishes the small colony of cherry red shrimp and aquatic snails he has raised.

Jonathan is greatly looking forward to the Pre-Medical Surgical Internship as a unique learning experience to help shape his interests in the medical field.

Kristiana Lehn
University of San Diego

Kristiana Lehn was born and raised in California. She received an academic merit scholarship to attend the University of San Diego. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minors in Biology and Chemistry from the Honors Program in May 2012. She is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society.

During college, she received research grants for work on synthesis of lignin co-polymers as antimicrobial films. She published her Honors thesis on her research. She also pursued her interest in medicine by volunteering in an emergency room and participating in a doctor-patient interaction internship shadowing a trauma service. Later she served as a peer educator for the USD Center for Health and Wellness Promotion. In her free time, she found joy in volunteering as an adventure guide for USD’s Outdoor Adventures program that helps to connect the community with the local environment. She helped to co-founded the Adventure Club at USD, and served as its president from 2010-2012.  She was honored with the Pete Ryan Leadership Award in her senior year as a guide. She was also lucky enough to spend a semester studying abroad in London, where she was empowered to become a global citizen.

In the next two years, she plans to participate in a medical Spanish immersion program through USC in Guatemala. She also hopes to volunteer with women’s empowerment organizations in Nepal. The following year she aspires to attend medical school.

Michael Lin
University of California, Berkeley

Michael graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Chemical Biology in the Spring of 2012. Michael believes that a wide breadth of knowledge is important in making personal connections with the people he meets, so in addition to studying the quantum effects of electrons and synthesis of fluorescent molecules, he complemented his science-heavy curriculum with humanities classes such as Psychology, Anthropology and French.

Originally from Vancouver Canada, Michael travelled over 1,000 miles to reach the free-spirited town of Berkeley. Scared by the long-haired street residents on Telegraph Avenue and shocked by the sheer population density of the Bay Area, Michael retracted underneath his bed sheets and lived his freshman year mostly under the radar. However, it was also this change in environment that seeded his passion for medicine. Troubled and confused by the dysfunctional healthcare system in America, he started to transform from a passive student to an active community leader.

In his spare time, Michael likes to run and explore the outdoors. He has run multiple half-marathons and a marathon and has been to several national parks. Some of his life goals are to qualify for the Boston Marathon, complete a half-Ironman and visit all of the national parks in North America.

Larissa Miyachi
University of California, David

While growing up in the rural Sierra Nevada foothills, Larissa Miyachi loved exploring the oak woodland surrounding her home and raising her family’s dairy goats.  Each spring was filled with the anticipation of newborn goats to tend and rear, and it was Larissa’s love of animal care that first drew her into science.  Home educated her entire childhood, Larissa graduated from high school at age seventeen and enrolled at Yuba Community College, where she completed the first two years of her undergraduate education.

Larissa excelled in her science courses at Yuba College and, realizing that she could make a positive impact in peoples’ lives through scientific research, transferred to UC Davis in Fall 2010 to work towards a degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.  While at UC Davis, Larissa had the privilege of pursuing scientific research under the mentorship of Dr. Ting Guo in the Department of Chemistry.  As she participated in a project aimed at improving chemotherapy delivery and efficacy, Larissa discovered her desire to engage personally with those whose lives she could touch and so chose to pursue medicine.

Now preparing to apply for medical school in June, Larissa eagerly anticipates a career in medicine and is enthusiastic about exploring the field of surgery this summer through the Pre-Medical Surgical Internship Program.  Always ready to share a smile, her hope is to leave each person she meets with the feeling that someone cares about them, whether now as a hospital volunteer or in the future as a physician.

Lauren Palitz
Boston University

Lauren Palitz was born and raised in Huntington Beach, CA, and is currently studying Human Physiology at Boston University. Lauren first became interested in medicine after witnessing her Junior Lifeguard instructor get hit in the face with a surfboard at the age of nine, and then watch as she miraculously healed at the hands of a plastic surgeon. Her love for anatomy and physiology has further driven her to pursue medicine, and she hopes to be a Gross Anatomy teaching assistant for the upcoming year. She also looks forward to serving as a Boston University Resident Assistant for the 2012-2013 school year.

Lauren’s experience as an Athletic Training student has also caused her perseverance in the medical field. In her junior year of high school, Lauren was introduced to Athletic Training when she fainted during track practice and was taken care of by an Athletic Trainer. She proceeded to volunteer as an Athletic Training student at her high school, learning basic first aid, taping skills, how to use various modalities, and how to recognize a variety of injuries. She loved the feeling of providing care to the injured and playing a part in their recovery, and also took delight when she was able to see the success of the preventative measures she assisted the Athletic Trainer in taking.

In her spare time, Lauren likes to paint, draw, and sculpt. She is currently pursuing a minor in visual arts in Boston. She is also a fitness and sports enthusiast, and has been playing soccer and swimming since the age of four.

Manisha Rai
University of California, Berkeley

Born and raised in the thriving suburbs of Silicon Valley, Manisha Rai’s drive to be a physician was clear at a young age. She continues to pursue this goal as a Molecular Cell Biology major at UC Berkeley (Class of 2013). Her emphasis within the major is Infectious Diseases—it was an immediate draw, given her inclinations towards public health and physiology.

During her time at Berkeley, she has been exposed to a wide variety of extracurricular activities. Under the guidance of Dr. Barbara Abrams, she contributed to a systematic review investigating the complex relationship between education and obesity in an international context. She also worked as a Health Worker at the International House, listening to residents’ health concerns and promoting healthy habits in a college setting. She is currently Features Editor of the Berkeley Scientific Journal, a research journal and scientific forum for undergraduates. This semester, Manisha began an internship with the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program, where she focused on compiling the immune benefits of breastfeeding, for both mother and infant. In her freshman year, Manisha had the opportunity to mentor a 3rd grade student at a local elementary school near Berkeley through the SAGE program. Every one of these activities has contributed to the richness of her experience at Cal so far.

She is a Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholar, and in her free time she enjoys watching movies, cooking, exploring Berkeley cuisine, and hanging out with her fellow bears!

Arash Rezaei
University of California, Davis

Arash Rezaei was born in 1976 in Tehran Iran. He attended Sharif University as a civil engineering student in 1994, where he completed his Bachelors and Masters Degree. In 2006 Arash immigrated to United States to attend Texas A&M as a PhD student, and was able to receive his Doctorate in Civil engineering in 2010. Arash was accepted as a post Doctorate student in 2011 at University of a California at Davis. Arash married his lovely wife Asma Zamanian in May of 2011 and is the father to a beautiful baby girl name Liana. Arash has decided to pursue a carrier in medicine which has always been his ultimate goal in life; he believes that everything is possible as long as it is what you have always dreamt about. Arash enjoys spending time with his family and traveling in his spear time. Arash has had many publications in the field of engineering and medicine; he has had the opportunity to work with many great people.


Cesar Rivas
University of California, Berkeley

At age of eleven, César and his family were forced to leave Mexico due to economic hardship. He left his home, friends, and family, but carried with him memories, cultural pride, and a sense of perseverance as he came to the U.S. Once settled in California, he worked hard to overcome his language barrier and pushed himself to prosper academically. César is now 20 years old and a junior at the University of California, Berkeley majoring in Integrative Biology.

Coming from a disadvantage background, César has been able to develop a strong desire for helping underserved communities. On campus, he plays an active role in Chicanos/Latinos in Health Education and Volunteer Health Interpreters Organization through which he is able to advocate for community member’s rights, resources, and wellbeing. César also provides support for the AB540/undocumented student population in Berkeley. He has coordinated and facilitated a three-year-old mentorship program that encourages students to continue with their studies after high school.

One of the things César enjoys the most is meeting new people. He interned for a non-profit organization and met with key leaders in the digital literacy divide to create a curriculum for low-income families in the San Juaquin Valley. He traveled to a remote rural town to train community members basic computer/internet skills and created a plan for the community leadership to decrease the digital divide amongst low-income residents. César is inspired to become a physician that constantly advocates for health and equality.

Ronald Sahyouni
University of California, Berkeley

Ron Sahyouni is a senior at UC Berkeley and is completing a double major in Molecular and Cell Biology and Psychology. His parents immigrated from Syria, and after witnessing their struggles and experiencing the inequalities in medical care around the world first hand, Ron aspires to enter the field of medicine. Ron’s interest in surgery flourished after completing a Medical Nursing Internship in High School.

Motivated by his grandfather’s battle with Alzheimer’s Disease, Ron began volunteering at the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center. There, Ron developed a passion for research and currently works on an independent project. Ron is also partaking in a project at the Hinshaw Lab at UC Berkeley, investigating the role of Trauma/PTSD on ADHD, which allows him to examine the environmental correlates of abnormal brain development.

After his freshman year at Cal, Ron attained his National EMT-B certification, and utilized this skillset in his extracurricular activities. Pursuing his interest in global health, he founded the UC Berkeley chapter of Dr. Interns, a non-profit foundation that organizes medical missions to third world countries. Ron also is the president of mcbUSA at UC Berkeley, and was awarded the UC Berkeley leadership scholarship. Ron’s passion is working with kids. He volunteers in the ER at Children’s Hospital Oakland and mentors/tutors middle school children through the Youth Support Program.

Ron is an avid drummer and started a rock band his freshman year at Cal. He also enjoys running, and is currently training to run a half-marathon.

Navjeet Salhan
Consumnes River College

Navjeet Salhan is a first generation Punjabi, Indian-American born and raised in Sacramento, California who has two younger sisters. Navjeet discovering what his calling in life was when he started working at a local hospital. The experiences he gained while working at the hospital were pivotal in opening Navjeet’s eyes to medicine and inspired him to become a physician. He is especially fascinated by surgery and this internship will provide him with a “behind the scenes pass” so that he can interrelate with surgeons from a variety of disciplines and gain valuable insight.

Navjeet will be transferring to UC Davis in the fall of 2012 where he plans to major in neurobiology, physiology, and behavior. His interest in neurobiology partially stems from his time volunteering at a facility that provided care for patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Seeing patients slowly loose sight of who they were as individuals and their loved ones had a profound impact on Navjeet. It became the source of inspiration and sparked his curiosity to study how the mind’s intricacies function and how such diseases processes take effect. Navjeet will also be minor in chemistry and hopefully the computer sciences. In addition to the surgical internship, Navjeet will be preparing to take his MCAT in September. It will be a memorable summer for him to say the least.

Navjeet currently volunteers in the emergency department at local hospital and during his free time enjoys playing basketball and working out. He is very optimistic about his future and looks forward to the many challenges that await him.

Danien Scipio
University if San Francisco

California Institute of Technology

Danien Scipio is a 26 year-old student of Caribbean-American descent. He was born in San Francisco, but at a young age emigrated to the island of Trinidad with his older sister and parents. It was in this environment that Danien grew in both his education and love for sports. He was a member of the National junior men’s gymnastics team of Trinidad and Tobago, a position he held for 3 years. The body awareness from this sport has bolstered his abilities in the sports of soccer, snowboarding, and cycling. After completing high school in the Caribbean, he moved back to the United States to pursue a college degree at the University of San Francisco (USF). At USF while taking full course loads, he worked as a tutor for the learning and writing center, a note taker for the disability services department, and an outdoor adventures chaperone where he excelled in snowboarding.

Danien graduated Valedictorian of his Arts and Sciences class from USF with a Bachelor’s degree in Physics and a minor in Chemistry. A designer at heart, he sought to meld his background into a single entity driven towards building new devices. This interest led him to the Materials Science program at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), from which he received his Master in Science degree in 2009. During this tenure, Danien conducted research on water splitting reactions hoping to find a cost effective fuel source to run fuel cells. This research position offered him the opportunity to travel to Zürich, where he participated in a collaborative experiment, the results of which were published in the journal Science.

At Caltech, although he garnered interest in the design of new materials, he found himself drawn more to the imaging techniques used to visualize them. This inclination, combined with his love for sports has sparked an interest in orthopedic medicine and radiology. Danien’s father, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, exposed him to medical terminology at a young age, however despite this influence, Danien’s gravitation towards medicine is rooted in personal experience. This internship will ground him more in the medical sciences.

Tiffany Sia
University of Southern California

Tiffany Sia is a Bay Area native who is currently studying Neuroscience and Medical Anthropology at the University of Southern California. Since her youth her parents have fostered a scientific learning environment for her by doing chemistry experiments and performing dissections on her pet goldfish that just happened to pass away every time her father changed the water. In college she pursued her interest in the life sciences by joining a research lab that studies microbial community composition on the seafloor and being a Supplemental Instruction Leader for Honors Chemistry. She also discovered a passion for global health through a service trip with Global Water Brigades to Honduras. She hopes to continue volunteering overseas with organizations such as Doctors Without Borders after she earns her medical degree.

In addition to doing research and teaching, Tiffany enjoys outdoor sports such as hiking, bicycling, and ultimate frisbee. In fact, she is the captain for the USC Women’s Ultimate squad and would be willing to chat your ear off about how amazing and fun the sport is. In her down time Tiffany also likes to read. Her favorite books include the Sherlock Holmes short stories and Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials Series.

During the Pre-Surgical Internship Program Tiffany hopes to become more knowledgeable about how hospitals are run and learn about the mesmerizing field of surgery, particularly how new technologies are changing the face of the surgical field. She is also interested in learning more about physician-patient interactions and how to become a more culturally competent doctor.

Camron Smith
California State University, Fresno

Camron is a senior at California State University Fresno- graduating 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Health & Rehabilitation Science and a minor in Gerontology.

During his time at CSU Fresno, He was involved in many student organizations- namely Pi Kappa Alpha, where he was President and led his chapter to its highest national achievement since 1990. He subsequently sat on the University Student Union Board of Directors, and various student committees.

Camron is currently employed in the emergency department at St. Agnes Medical Center as a physician scribe and call back leader. He is also part of a pilot project devoted to implementing electronic medical records in the emergency department.  Heis actively involved in biological research, which includes the genetic modification of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (brewer’s yeast) to produce resveratrol- an alleged “super-antioxidant” found in red wine. He optimistic that the implications of this research may lead to healthier corporate beer recipes.

In his free time Camron enjoys playing guitar, piano, bass, and soprano ukulele. He recently formulated constructs for a musical multimodal adaptive recognition system, MMARS, and sold his intellectual property to an application software developer for distribution.

Camron also enjoys traveling, and was part of a team last summer that helped deliver medical care to over 2,000 patients in indigent areas of Honduras and Guatemala. It was here that he recognized a passion for addressing global and local health disparities, and reaffirmed his interest in human medicine.

Meagan Smith
 University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Meagan is from Minneapolis, Minnesota.  She graduated in May of 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.  Meagan began her education at St. Olaf College and began a journey of self-discovery, investigating education, dance, Norwegian, and architecture, that led her to medicine because she enjoys helping people, solving problems, and is fascinated by human physiology.

In addition to being a student, Meagan is a dancer, and teaches classes to high school students and adults.  She has volunteered at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital and Hennepin County Medical Center, experiences that solidified her interest in medicine.  Meagan has also enjoyed being a teaching assistant for undergraduate physiology for the past year.

Meagan is very excited to begin many new adventures this summer.  In addition to getting the opportunity to experience this internship, the next step on the path to medicine, she is excited to spend time in a new state, adopt a puppy, and most notably, get married.  She is very excited about this summer and the opportunity to be a part of the UC Davis Pre-Medical Surgical Internship.

Jenkang Tao
University of California, Berkeley

Jenkang (Ken) Tao was born in Taiwan but moved to the United States when he was just two months old. He is currently a second-year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley as a Molecular Cell Biology (Neurobiology) and Bioengineering simultaneous major with a minor in Education.

Ken began as a bioengineering major at UC Berkeley because of his interest in the recent technological developments in the field of medicine. He is fascinated by the constant scientific breakthroughs made by biomedical researchers around the world. However, after completing his freshman year at Cal, Ken realized that the bioengineering curriculum focuses significantly more on engineering than on actual biological knowledge. As such, he decided to pick up a second major in Molecular Cell Biology with an emphasis on Neurobiology. He has since developed a genuine interest in neuroscience through conducting research in a Molecular Neurobiology lab at UC Berkeley. In his lab, Ken studies the dopaminergic pathway, manipulating it in various ways to see how it affects the learning rates of rodents, and drug addiction, investigating the activity of neurons expressing proteins associated with cocaine addiction.

Outside of academics, Ken is highly involved with Circle K International, a community service organization at UC Berkeley. He enjoys helping out the community and making friends along the way.

Through the pre-med surgical internship, Ken hopes to get a better idea of what the life of a physician is like. After completing his undergraduate studies, he hopes to go straight into medical school.

Photo of Leanne LinClara Wang
University of Southern California

Clara Wang was raised in the San Francisco Bay area. Born 2.5 months prematurely, Clara lived in the neonatal ICU for a few months before she was released from the hospital. Her prematurity led to a number of medical issues, and she was familiar with the medical office setting from a young age. She also has a number of family members in the health field who have taught her that the ability to help patients can be an extraordinary source of satisfaction. Clara volunteered in physician’s offices and hospitals throughout high school and shadowed doctors in a medically underserved clinic. Biology is her favorite subject, and she had spent her summers doing medical research at San Jose State University and Saban Institute of Los Angeles Children’s Hospital. This combination of interests and experiences has affirmed her desire to pursue a career in the medical field. Clara has just completed her first year of the B.A./M.D. program at the University of Southern California. She has appreciated the flexibility of the program and has enjoyed her first year of pre-med coursework. In her free time, Clara enjoys spending time with her family, reading, watching movies, and learning magic tricks.

Barbara Waring
Los Medonos Communniy College

Barbara Waring graduated from Freedom High School in 2010 and is currently in her second year at community college. She is planning on transferring to UC Davis and majoring in Microbiology.

She grew up in Camanchee, California where she lived with her mother, father and older sister. Her parents were both firefighters who also pursued the medical field which had a long lasting impact on her decision to become a part of healthcare. In her free time she enjoys hiking, playing piano, reading, cooking, volunteering, traveling and spending time with her family and friends.

During high school, Barbara volunteered at her local hospital where she helped transfer patients. She also volunteered for a cancer outreach program known as Kaleidoscope Cancer Outreach where she worked with children and familys experiencing cancer. During her experience with the program she realized an interest in surgical oncology, but also realized that there many opportunities open to her and she hopes to have more insight after completing the pre-medical surgical internship.

Knowing she wanted to go into medicine, she immediately began to take pre-requisite courses at her local community college. During her Biology class she fell in love with the Micro-Biology section. She felt that this was a major she could see herself enjoying through her undergrad and decided to pursue it. During college she also completed a Medical Assisting course and began volunteering at hospitals where her vision of becoming a physican was fully reinforced.

Although she has barely gotten through her general education she knows what challenges are ahead of her and she realizes that every sacrafice made is worth it if she can some day fullfill her dream of becoming a physician.