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Sommer Scholars Program

2021 Scholars



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Abdikarin Abdullahi

Denver, Colorado

While serving as a volunteer health care provider at one of San Francisco’s homeless shelters, medical student Abdikarin Abdullahi approached two patients waiting together for triage.





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Kobbie Aryee

Accra, Ghana

In medical school, Kobbie Aryee was drawn to the structure and strict protocols of anesthesia and critical care medicine. But four years after he graduated in 2017, nothing prepared him for the chaos of COVID-19 while practicing in his home country of Ghana.





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Adeoluwa Ayoola

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Service to others was an important family value handed down to Adeoluwa Ayoola from her father, a pastor, and her mother, a nursing professor. To Ayoola, working in health care has always seemed like the ideal way to live this principle.





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Sandra Banks

Juba, South Sudan

A year after finishing her medical degree and a few weeks after South Sudan gained independence in July 2011, Sandra Banks moved from Khartoum to the south to teach at the University of Juba’s School of Medicine and take on clinical duties at the main civil hospital.





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Alexander Blum

Washington, D.C.

During the summer between Alexander Blum’s sophomore and junior years at Brown University, he traveled to Kolkata, India to work at a center for patients with Hansen’s disease, more commonly known as leprosy. Two years later, he moved to Kolkata and spent a year living and working at the center.





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Priyankar Bahadur Chand

Lalitpur, Nepal

As a student of medical anthropology and global health at Yale University, Priyankar Chand started his research on illness narratives of sickle cell disease in his home country of Nepal, work that pushed him to return home.





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Rachel Gittinger

Washington, D.C.

The daughter of a fourth-grade teacher, Rachel Gittinger spent hours after school talking and teasing with the school janitor, Armando. Over the years, he became a close family friend—a friendship that gave a young Gittinger her first glance into the world of immigration.





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Laura Haskins

Portage, Michigan

When Laura Haskins graduated nursing school, she wasn’t sure how to bring her passions for nursing, oncology, and global health together. But with that goal in mind, she spent the next five years honing her clinical nursing skills in hospital oncology wards and outpatient chemotherapy clinics, and teaching nursing aide classes for recent immigrants.





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Rassidatou Konate

Kongoussi, Burkina Faso

After Rassidatou Konate’s mother died of breast cancer when Konate was just six years old, she set her sights on becoming a doctor. But by the time her father died 12 years later of complications from a motorcycle accident, Konate had become disillusioned with medicine and hospitals.





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Rachel Larson

Apple Valley, Minnesota

After spending a year abroad in college studying community health across five countries, Rachel Larson graduated a year early in 2015 to take a job in Liberia with the nonprofit organization Last Mile Health, where she worked on community health workforce and vaccine delivery programs for six years.





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Daphne Lu

Vancouver, Canada

A fourth-year resident in General Surgery at the University of British Columbia, Daphne Lu has helped to manage some of the sickest patients in the hospital and participate in some of the most challenging surgeries.





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Emily Magurno

Midland, Michigan

In June of 2019, while working for a USAID implementing partner in Tanzania, Emily Magurno led a three-day simulation of an Ebola outbreak in Mwanza for Ministry of Health officials, local government leadership, and other supply chain stakeholders.





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David Marquez

San Antonio, Texas

While civilian veterinarians typically specialize in discrete areas of veterinary medicine, such as small or large animals, David Marquez and other military vets wear many hats every day: caring for working dogs, running zoonotic disease prevention programs, and overseeing food safety and defense operations are just a few of the jobs that Marquez has held over his eight-year Army career.





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Yidnekachew Mogessie

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

As a medical student, Mogessie was struck by the hardships faced by women and youth in Ethiopia, from early marriage and unintended pregnancies to lack of awareness and access to youth-friendly reproductive health services.





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Ana Leticia Nery

Sao Paulo, Brazil

While working as an emergency physician in Iraq with Doctors Without Borders in 2017, Ana Leticia Nery cared for an elderly man who was injured in a bombing during the Battle of Mosul. Compared to many other patients she saw that day, his wounds weren’t severe; after treating his sprained arm, she discharged him from the hospital.





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Emily Pantalone

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

As an undergraduate at Tufts University, Emily Pantalone was captivated by the study of international relations—particularly transitional justice to address systematic human rights violations, reconciliation, and rebuilding in post-conflict settings.





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Shrikar Pardeshi

Pune, India

As a child growing up in small towns in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, Shrikar Pardeshi dreaded visiting his maternal grandmother in her rural home. With no toilets, he had to trek out to the fields to defecate. However, having to see his elderly grandmother make far longer treks was even more troubling, he says.





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Katie Ryan

North Castle, New York

As a researcher in Chiapas, Mexico, Katie Ryan traveled to a mountainous, rural community four hours from the nearest city to collect data on breastfeeding and maternal and child health outcomes. After driving through rivers, navigating up steep dirt roads, and walking the last half hour on foot, Ryan and her colleagues reached the survey participants.





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Heang-Lee Tan

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Heang-Lee Tan says that she’s always been soft-spoken. Growing up, she often found it difficult to be heard.





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Avery Waite

Rye, New York

While working in the primary school system in a rural Kenyan fishing village between her freshman and sophomore years at Duke University, Avery Waite joined a research project studying the effects of malnutrition in the classroom.