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Sommer Scholars Program

2023 Scholars



Profile photo of Mannan Akhtar


Mannan Akhtar

As an ethnic minority in the Indian state of Assam during a decades-long separatist movement, Mannan Akhtar grew up acutely aware of the suffering experienced by family, friends, and neighbors. The deep empathy he developed as a child helped steer him to medical school as an adult.





Profile photo of Hasina Alokozai


Hasina Alokozai

Five years after Hasina Alokozai was born in a refugee camp in Pakistan, she returned to her home country of Afghanistan.In elementary school there, she received several lifesaving public health interventions through UN sister agencies, although she didn’t realize it at the time: deworming tablets, vitamin A drops and polio vaccine, and biscuits and milk to stave off the malnutrition prevalent in her rural village.





Profile photo of Jean Berchmans Uwimana


Jean Berchmans Uwimana

When Jean Berchmans Uwimana was a young child in Rwanda, he and his friends liked to pretend they were doctors. But in real life, there weren’t nearly enough doctors to treat the thousands of his generation, including those in refugee camps, who died of preventable medical conditions.





Profile photo of Carlos Lopez Bray


Carlos Lopez Bray

Born in Mexico, Carlos Lopez Bray spent his early years in the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas. There, he lived nearby an underserved community and was encouraged by a teacher to seek a career in health care.  





Profile photo of Ama Essuman


Ama Essuman

Growing up in Accra, Ghana, Ama Essuman puzzled over why her parents—​​accomplished physician-researchers with prestigious degrees—chose to run a small clinic in an underserved community instead of holding more lucrative positions. T​he answer became clear as she matured: True fulfillment meant living for something greater than personal gain.  





Profile photo of Angélica Gutiérrez-Ramos


Angélica Gutiérrez-Ramos

Growing up in Colombia, Angélica Gutiérrez-Ramos excelled in school and discovered she had a gift for leadership and public speaking. When the time came to choose a career, she decided to become an attorney.





Profile photo of Sarah Kolk


Sarah Kolk

Years after learning about infectious disease in eighth grade, Sarah Kolk planned to major in biology for her bachelor’s degree at Dartmouth College as a precursor to a career in epidemiology or biomedical research. Instead, anthropology ignited a bigger spark. It was through this field that she learned about public health.





Profile photo of Ciaran Murphy


Ciaran Murphy

Growing up in San Francisco, Ciaran Murphy discovered a talent for running and dreamed of becoming an Olympian. But after injuries forced him to quit his college team, Murphy searched for a new goal. He joined service-oriented organizations on campus and took part in several national and international health programs, spending time in Honduras, Indigenous reservations in the U.S, and Nepal. 





A profile photo of Ali Aahil Noorali


Ali Aahil Noorali

One night in December 2020, Ali Aahil Noorali’s 88-year-old grandmother was suffering from symptoms that indicated COVID-19 and needed immediate medical attention.






Profile photo of Ahmad Ozair


Ahmad Ozair

Ahmad Ozair was a medical student in India when his grandfather had a heart attack. Instead of an ambulance, the emergency services sent a small van with little equipment. At the hospital, where Ozair worked with the house staff to begin treating his grandfather, he realized that the angioplasty suite at one of India’s largest residential hospital was closed. 





Profile photo of Aseel Salih


Aseel Salih

Aseel Salih’s mother’s muscular dystrophy prompted her family to visit many hospitals in their native Sudan over the course of her life. But their experience was frequently disappointing—the hospitals often lacked the manpower, expertise, and resources to provide effective care.





Profile photo of Preeti Shakya


Preeti Shakya

In Preeti Shakya’s third year of medical school in a rural, religious community, she heard about Chhaupadi Pratha—an ancient practice in which women are exiled to primitive sheds during menstruation.





Profile photo of Maxwell Tran


Maxwell Tran

The son of Vietnamese refugees, Maxwell Tran was drawn to both art and science. In 2012, he founded Ink Movement Canada, a nonprofit organization that empowers youth to use the arts as tools for social change. In addition to the 10 anthologies of poetry, short stories, and photography published by the group, Tran also published poetry in literary journals about his family’s history. 





Profile photo of Natalie West


Natalie West

Growing up, Natalie West developed a passion and talent for learning languages and engaging in cultural exchange. After graduating from Kenyon College with a double major in modern languages and music, West received a Fulbright Award to teach English in Nepal.