SOURCE Service Scholars Cohorts
2022-2023 SOURCE Service Scholars
Vennela Avula, JHSOM, M.D. Student
- Project: "Shepherd's Outreach & Engagement Plan: Patient & Community Advisory Council"
- Community Partner: Shepherd's Clinic
Vennela Avula (she/her) is a rising second-year medical student at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in December of 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health in Environmental Health. Vennela is interested in the intersections of environmental and social determinants of health with healthcare and hopes to address these factors in her career. While in college, Vennela led the environmental action committee and served on the Chancellor’s sustainability council to create climate health initiatives on campus and in the local community. She also led a global health student organization that partnered with a clinic in Guatemala serving indigenous populations and served as a bilingual navigator for Spanish-speaking patients at UNC Hospitals. In her first year at Johns Hopkins, Vennela has taught ESL with the Esperanza center, interned for the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative, advocated for environmentally friendly state legislature with the Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility, and led the start of a program to address social determinants of health in patients at ViSION screenings. She has greatly enjoyed meeting so many new people through these projects and has learned so much about health outside of the hospital. For the rest of her time in Baltimore, Vennela hopes to continue to connect with community members to understand their needs and address environmental and social justice issues to foster equity in health and wellbeing. She is excited to volunteer with Shepherd’s clinic to work toward these goals and serve an important vulnerable population.
Preetham Bachina, JHSOM, M.D. Student
- Project: "FRP Workforce Development Curriculum"
- Community Partner: The Family Recovery Program
Preetham (he/him) is a first-year medical student at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, he graduated from Rice University in 2021 in with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology and a B.A. in Mathematics. During his time at Rice, Preetham was involved in the Center for Civic Leadership to promote community engagement within the Rice student body. Much of his undergraduate involvement revolved around community service, particularly by tackling educational disparities in the Houston community by providing additional academic support and early exposure to research experiences to students from disadvantaged backgrounds. He also worked with student and community organizations such as the Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Houston Recovery Initiative to advocate for individuals suffering from substance use disorders by working with local policy makers and hosting informational events. Preetham is excited to work as a SOURCE Service Scholar to work in community settings in Baltimore and better understand the community's history and current challenges. He hopes to use his experience working with the Family Recovery Program to inform his care as a future physician that will advocate for health equity for all.
Maya Black, JHSOM, M.D. Student
- Project: "Improving Volunteer Retention and Engagement"
- Community Partner: Lori's Hands
Maya Black is a first-year medical student in the MD-PhD program at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She graduated from Purdue University in May of 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Genetics and Cell, Molecular, and Developmental Biology, along with a minor in Spanish. While at Purdue, she worked with the Honors College as a Student Diversity Officer to support minority students. She also led discussions, workshops, and other events on themes relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion. After graduating, she interned and subsequently worked with the Connecticut River Valley Farmworker Health Program (CRVFHP) helping to enable healthcare for seasonal and migratory farmworkers. Following this, she spent nine months in Madrid, Spain teaching English through the Fulbright Fellowship. While there, she also volunteered with Dragones, a youth soccer club in an underserved area of the city aiming to reduce gender and racial stereotypes and discrimination in Spanish soccer culture, while also providing a safe space for kids. Throughout her time in medical and graduate school, she is hoping to develop ways to bring together her love for clinical medicine, research, and advocacy in an impactful way. Because of this, she is excited to have the opportunity to be a SOURCE Service Scholar as she enjoys finding ways to unite community engagement and scholarship. She is excited to work with Lori’s Hands to aid students in understanding the experiences of older persons with chronic illness. Over the next eight years, she plans to continue to learn about and integrate into the Baltimore community, while hopefully making a positive impact.
Ayla Chase, JHSON, MSN Student
- Project: "Zero Waste Education Outreach"
- Community Partner: Energy Justice Network
Ayla (she/her) is a first year Master of Nursing student at The Johns Hopkins Nursing School. She is deeply inspired by Albert Pikes words; “What we do for ourselves dies with us, what we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.” She strives to enable and support others and will continue to do so with her ongoing versatile spectrum of education and experience. After receiving a B.S. in Information Systems, she served in the Army in a variety of roles including Information Systems and Infantry Officer. After living around the globe for several years, she chose to pursue her passion of healthcare full time in 2022. In addition to her professional career, she took roles in a variety of “side hustles” including being a white-water raft guide, ski/snowboard instructor, EMT, volunteer fire fighter, youth sports coaching staff, and a volunteer in a variety of service-oriented organizations. An advocate for holistic health, nature immersion, education, and community involvement, she most looks forward to the integration of the JHSON and SOURCE within the scope of the community. In particular, The Energy Justice Network has given her rooted appreciation for the Earth and its foundational impact on every aspect of health. For Ayla, the meaning of life is simply finding meaning and sharing it. In the words of renowned author Victor Frankl, “those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how’.” Her ‘why’ is connecting people and communities, and there is no better ‘how’ than bringing together entities that strive to serve the public in diverse and impactful ways.
Chidimma O. Ezeilo, BSPH, MPH Student
- Project: "New Song Volunteer Engagement Program"
- Community Partner: New Song Community Learning Center
Chidimma Ezeilo is a physician who has practiced in both the public and private sectors in Nigeria. While working as a medical doctor, she was moved by the health inequity stemming from illiteracy and poverty in the society she lived in. Environmental factors exacerbated this inequity. The community was rampant with poor health outcomes and mediocre quality of life. Children bore the worst brunt. This inspired her to volunteer her medical expertise in various community outreach programs. She served as the Director of Programs for The Neo Child Initiative (TNCI), a volunteer-based organization that seeks to empower and educate Nigerian children. The experiences and stories she gathered, and her cheerful personality, guided her in molding her career pathway (as she gains her certificate in humanitarian health). She also served as a Project Coordinator for FeedHomes Project where they served over a hundred underprivileged families by providing food, clothing, and health education. She is excited to work with the New Song Community Learning Center where she hopes to make a lasting positive impression on the children and their families in Baltimore City. Chidimma believes that children are the eyes of the family and through this lens, the family can be supported holistically.
Catherine Gong, BSPH, MPH Student
- Project: "Geographical Analysis of Tutor Populations in the Baltimore Area"
- Community Partner: Reading Partners
Catherine is an MPH student at the BSPH. Prior to graduate school, she was a data manager for a myriad of research initiatives at the University of Michigan School of Public Health Department of Health Behavior and Health Education. She has experience in community-engaged program evaluation, and has worked on topics such as violence prevention, college student mental health, and impacts of the built environment in previous research. Broadly, Catherine is interested in application of statistical methods to the implementation and evaluation of public health policy and economics. She holds a B.S. in Statistics from the University of Michigan.
Mahima Krishnamoorthi, JHSOM, M.D. Student
- Project: "Designing and Researching Population-based Research of Legislative and Media Advocacy"
- Community Partner: House of Ruth Maryland
Mahima Krishnamoorthi is a first year medical student at Johns Hopkins with a strong passion for reproductive and sexual health and justice. She grew up in Modesto, CA and graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology. During her time there, she conducted an honors thesis interviewing women in the bay area about their experiences after their abortions, which was granted the Stanford University Firestone Research Award. She also spent three years working at the Stanford Sexual Health Peer Resource Center in which she co-developed Stanford’s comprehensive sexual health education course and was on a taskforce to start the university’s first evidence-based sexual assault prevention program. She spent her gap year working at the Mount Sinai Women’s Health Research Institute focused on racial disparities in maternal morbidity and mortality and perinatal access to healthcare among immigrant women.
Mahima is excited to work closely with House of Ruth Maryland to support the evaluation of their community and advocacy efforts. She hopes to combine her passion for sexual and reproductive medicine with public health and research approaches and is looking forward to learning from the community leaders in Baltimore who are experts in the important topics of intimate partner violence and sexual abuse.
Alex Pinsk, BSPH, MSPH Student
- Project: "Community Engagement Scholar"
- Community Partner: International Rescue Committee
My name is Alex Pinsk, and I am a second year MSPH student at BSPH in the Department of Health, Behavior, and Society. Prior to enrolling at Johns Hopkins, I received my BA from Franklin & Marshall College in the Spring of 2020 and subsequently worked with AmeriCorps in Washington, DC. My primary areas of study and research now are infectious disease and health promotion in urban populations both domestically and internationally. I’m interested in social determinants of health and their impact on healthcare communication and access. Last academic year I worked with SOURCE’s BAP on the Asthma Project III with the Green & Health Homes Initiative, and this summer I am doing TB research in South Africa, focusing on multi-morbidities like HIV in drug sensitive and drug resistant populations. I’m excited to work with SOURCE again as part of SSS with the International Rescue Committee, advocating for youth empowerment and education and addressing community challenges through the Baltimore Youth Success Coach program. When I am not working or studying, I enjoy backpacking, camping, and playing rec-league sports here in Baltimore City!
Isabel Plakas, JHSON, MSN Student
- Project: "Overdose Prevention Education"
- Community Partner: SPARC Center
Isabel Plakas is a first year MSN student. She earned a degree in Psychology with minors in History and Health Studies from Bryn Mawr College in 2019. While an undergrad, she worked on an outreach van in Madrid, Spain for people who trade sex, and in Kensington, Philadelphia at a drop-in for women who use drugs. After graduating, Isabel spent three years working as the Coordinator of a mobile medical clinic at Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, which went to different overdose hotspots in Boston to provide medical care, case management, and harm reduction supplies to people experiencing homelessness with SUD. During her time coordinating the van, she developed the first harm reduction and medical delivery service for youth in Boston to increase access to Naloxone for young people. Isabel is a native New Yorker, 1/2 Greek and 1/2 Ecuadorian, and is interested in expanding harm reduction programming in the states. She looks forward to working with SPARC at their drop-in and on mobile outreach, and getting to know the harm reduction community in Baltimore.
Shruti Police, BSPH, MSPH Student
- Project: "Health Care for All! Coalition Building"
- Community Partner: Maryland Citizens Health Education Initiative Fund
Shruti Police is a first-year graduate student at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where she is part of the Master of Science in Public Health program under the Health Policy and Management track. She graduated from the University of Richmond in 2021 with a major in PPEL (Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law) and a minor in Healthcare Studies. Following her graduation, Shruti took a gap year during which she completed a one-year service term with AmeriCorps VISTA. In this capacity, she worked for SafeRx, a nonprofit substance use safety coalition in Santa Cruz, CA that works to address the harms of the opioid epidemic by promoting access to treatment, decreasing stigma, and advocating for evidence-based prevention practices. It was within this role that Shruti discovered her true passion for public health, which led her to applying for the program at Hopkins. Shruti has also always been dedicated to serving her community in various capacities since high school and saw the perfect opportunity to do so during her graduate program through SOURCE. She comes to the role with a strong foundation in coalition work, behavioral health advocacy, and harm reduction principles and looks forward to further honing her skills throughout this next year. Being new to the Baltimore area, Shruti can't wait to connect with the community and engage with other SOURCE scholars through her position with the Maryland Citizen’s Health Education Initiative Fund.
M Premikha, BSPH, MPH Student
- Project: "Client Choice Food and Clothing Pantry Initiative"
- Community Partner: The Franciscan Center
Premikha M is a full-time MPH student at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and has received three scholarships – Johns Hopkins Dean’s MPH Scholarship, Lee Kuan Yew Scholarship and Tan Kah Kee Post-Graduate Scholarship – in recognition of her public health potential and service to Singapore.
She graduated from the National University of Singapore in 2019 with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree. For the past three years, she has worked in various acute hospitals in Singapore, and served as a frontliner in the COVID-19 hospital wards and migrant worker dormitories. She was awarded the National Outstanding Postgraduate Year 1 Award for her excellent work performance. She also served in the Ministry of Health’s team tasked with securing early access for COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics for Singapore. In 2021, she was selected for a competitive 5-year National Preventive Medicine Residency Program to receive specialized training in public health.
Beyond her work as an aspiring public health specialist, Premikha has been an active community volunteer since the age of 13 and spearheaded community projects in over 15 organizations in Singapore. Notably, she is passionate about enhancing the health of vulnerable populations, empowering youths and promoting her native language, Tamil. She provides pro-bono medical consultations for migrant workers, who are often marginalized and lacked access to healthcare. She also represents ethnic minority interests in 3 public committees in the Ministry of Education, Infocomm Media Development Authority and Singapore Indian Development Association in Singapore.
Premikha is thrilled to collaborate with Franciscan Center to design a framework for provision of healthy, nutritious food and clothes to the disadvantaged groups in Baltimore. Riding on her passion to serve vulnerable groups, she hopes to empathize with diverse beneficiaries, identify their needs and create positive changes in their lives. She also looks forward to working with like-minded volunteers and implementing a sustainable program that continues to serve the beneficiaries after she returns to Singapore.
Dwi Sari Puspaningtyas, BSPH, MSPH Student
- Project: "Dynamic Mapping System of Food Services and Workforce Training Outreach"
- Community Partner: Good Harvest Community Kitchen
Dwi is a first year Master of Science of Public Health (MSPH) student in the Human Nutrition program. She graduated from Brawijaya University, Indonesia, with a Bachelor in Nutrition Sciences. Prior to this, she and her team founded Daumato, a community empowerment program in Tegalweru, Malang. This program helped eliminate the food waste of tomato crops and transform them into a more profitable tomato chips product. She worked as the Chief Product Officer, helping formulate recipes, developing logical framework, and create food labels. A year later, the program evolved into Daumato Foundation, in which she then worked as a program consultant for a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program. She is currently working as a Graduate Research Assistant at Johns Hopkins University, collecting data about the pre-pilot project of the Baltimore Urban food Distribution (BUD) application. She is passionate about community nutrition, food access, and food security. She is excited to be a part of SOURCE Service Scholar Program and be involved with Good Harvest!
Blessed Sheriff, BSPH, MPH Student
- Project: "Re-Engaging Residents in Martha’s Place Programming"
- Community Partner: Intersection of Change - Martha's Place
Blessed Sheriff recently completed her third year of medical school at Brown University and is currently a first year MPH student at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is originally from Montgomery County, Maryland and plans to transition back to Maryland for her medical residency following completion of her academic degrees. Prior to enrolling at BSPH, Blessed received a BA in public health from Brown University in 2019. Her research interests include women’s mental health and the biopsychosocial model of stress, trauma, and resilience. In the past two years she co-lead operations at the Brown Asylum Clinic, providing psychiatric evaluations for victims of violence and torture and coordinated trainings for sexual assault advocates in Rhode Island. This year she is excited to partner with Martha’s Place, a substance abuse recovery program for women in Baltimore. She looks forward to promoting community resilience and engagement through inventive programming and hopes to contribute to the expansive resources for sustainable addiction recovery at Martha’s Place.
Katie Welgan, JHSOM, M.D. Student
- Project: "Developing a Community Pathway to Certified Nursing Assistant Careers"
- Community Partner: Living Classrooms Foundation
Katie Welgan (she/her) is a second-year medical student at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She graduated from Stanford University in 2018 with a B.S. in Chemistry. As an undergraduate, she served as a community health advocacy fellow at Ravenswood Clinic and conducted cross-border research and advocacy work on immigrant health disparities in California and Mexico. Before entering medical school, Katie held a position as a Post-Bachelor Fellow at Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, where her research focused on geographic inequality in childhood mortality and racial-ethnic disparities in COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. During this time, she earned her MPH in Global Health from the University of Washington. As a medical student, Katie serves as co-coordinator of the Refugee Health Partnership and is a member of the Primary Care Leadership Track. She looks forward to the opportunity to partner with the Living Classrooms Foundation to contribute towards its mission of fostering community wellness by increasing access to equitable education and workforce training.
Tia Wilson, JHSON, MSN Student
- Project: "Voices of Baltimore Storytelling Program"
- Community Partner: MissionFit, Inc.
Tia Wilson is a student currently enrolled in the MSN program at the School of Nursing. She earned her undergraduate degrees in Biology and Biochemistry from Virginia Tech in 2011, followed by her Master’s in Forensic Science from George Mason University in 2014. Raised in a military family, Tia has always prioritized a life of service to her community. Whether it was working with children at her community youth center, or taking a job with the Federal Service, translating her values into action has always been a driving factor in her life. Prior to entering the JHU Nursing Program, Tia also served for 4 years as an Emergency Medical Technician in a busy downtown 911 system, cementing her love for patient care and community engagement.
2021-2022 SOURCE Service Scholars
Danielle Amundsen, JHSOM, M.D. Student
- Project: "Education to Independence"
- Community Partner: Project PLASE
Danielle Amundsen is a fourth-year medical student interested in primary care, health equity, and preventative medicine. She graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry with minors in Spanish Studies and Public Health. At the University of Minnesota, Danielle participated in the Community Engagement Scholars Program, completing several community-engaged learning courses, 500 hours of volunteering, and a capstone project. Through this program, Danielle interned for the Minneapolis American Indian Center’s Fitness and Nutrition Program, volunteered with Vida Sana, a program to promote healthy living for families, and tutored at Wellstone International High School, a public school for recent immigrants. Since her first year of medical school, Danielle has served as a SOURCE Governing Board Student Member, helping student groups connect with community-based organizations in Baltimore. She is excited to join the Service Scholars Program this year and partner with Project PLASE to provide health education workshops to empower Project PLASE’s residents.
Theresa Asuquo, JHSPH, MPH Student
- Project: "Ending Childhood Lead Poisoning in Baltimore"
- Community Partner: Green and Healthy Homes Initiative
I'm Theresa Asuquo and I’m a medical student at UCSD School of Medicine currently on a leave of absence to pursue my Master of Public Health (MPH) degree at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. While in medical school, I have been involved in numerous diversity initiatives leading to systemic improvements in health equity curriculum and underrepresented student recruitment, through my role as the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion on Student Council and as a founding member of the Anti-Racism Coalition, Diversity Coalition, and Task Force on Anti-Racism, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. I also serve on the board of the student groups, LGBTQ-PhAM and Student National Medical Association, where I participate in mentoring and community engagement. Additionally, I volunteer in free clinics as I’m very passionate about working within disadvantaged communities. I have seen how influential the social and structural determinants of health are when it comes to health equity, and I hope my MPH will assist me in being engaged with public health policy to break down these barriers.
Claudia Fernandez Perez, JHSPH, MHS Student
- Project: "Evaluating the Impact of Hopkins Community Connection"
- Community Partner: Hopkins Community Connection
My name is Claudia, and I am originally from Madrid, Spain, but have grown up with a very strong influence from the German culture from my stepdad. I graduated with a B.S. in Neuroscience and a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Miami this past Spring 2021, and I will be pursuing the M.H.S. in Global Health Economics at JHSPH this year, after which I would like to pursue research and other opportunities for a year before attending medical school. I will be working with Hopkins Community Connection this year as part of the SOURCE Service Scholars program.
Back where I come from, there is no emphasis on community involvement and giving back to the community. It wasn’t until I came to the US during my sophomore year of high school that I realized the incredible impact that this work and efforts can have, and this realization, together with the altruistic character and values I’ve gained from my stepdad, were one of the main reasons for me to decide to come to the US long-term. During my undergraduate years, I became part of the AHEC Scholars program, with which I worked to address the needs of underserved and under-resourced populations and communities in the Miami-Dade area. I additionally became a patient navigator in collaboration with students from the medical school, which continued growing my understanding of the barriers that patients, especially those most vulnerable, face in accessing healthcare resources, and complemented the skills I was gaining in the AHEC program to address them. These experiences have been part of my eagerness to work with Hopkins Community Connection, whose main mission aligns with these same goals.
At a personal level I have a wide range of interests, and I love to explore new ones and meet different people who have various backgrounds and experiences, and who can provide me with very different perspectives. I am also a very outdoorsy kind of person, I love scuba diving whenever I can, skiing (although I only get to do that in the winter), hiking, walking, and almost anything that involves being outside. I’m not big on social media or things like that, but I really enjoy spending time with friends and family and organizing fun plans. I love a good movie and really love reading since I was little – I’ve recently gotten into novelistic history but have always been really into fiction and detective or crime novels.
I’m very excited to make the best out of this year with and for Hopkins Community Connection as a SOURCE Scholar!
Haleigh Ferro, JHSOM, M.D. Student
- Project: "Sexual Assault Victim Outreach"
- Community Partner: House of Ruth Maryland
Hello everyone! My name is Haleigh Ferro, and I am a first year medical student and I’m very excited to be the Source Service Scholar working with House of Ruth Maryland. I am originally from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and graduated from the College of Charleston (virtually) in 2020. During college, I became EMT certified and worked in an Emergency Department in Charleston. My experience as an EMT and working in the ER shaped my passion for working with marginalized populations and using my role as a future physician to advocate for those who face a multitude of healthcare disparities. I learned so much from working with patients from a vast variety of backgrounds, and I saw first-hand how our medical system often fails who it is supposed to serve. In addition, I worked with a non-profit organization partnered with Title 1 elementary schools in Charleston providing students with one on one focused tutoring, supplies and other support. Something that I have never forgotten from my time with that organization was something the founder shared with us, stating that “students will never be able to learn until their basic needs (food, shelter, safety, etc.) are met”. In my experience since, I know this applies to my patients as well-it is incredible difficult for patients to be able to take care of their health if basic needs are not met. I hope to combine my love for medicine with working with organizations that campaign for policy-based change, or working with local organizations to help them meet the needs of their community. As I continue in my medical education, I have cherished the opportunities to learn from the Baltimore community and leaders in local community organizations and I know I will gain incredible insights and new skills from the opportunity to work so closely with House of Ruth Maryland. I feel incredibly lucky to have the chance to be a part of SOURCE and be involved with the House of Ruth Team, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming year!
Emily Huang, JHSOM, M.D. Student
- Project: "Volunteer Capacity Manager"
- Community Partner: Lori's Hands
Emily Huang is a first-year medical student at Johns Hopkins and a first-generation immigrant from Singapore. Recently, she graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. During her time there, she worked closely with the medically underserved population at her local free clinic and homeless day center. She served as the site leader for Connect2Health, which refers individuals experiencing homelessness to community resources based on their basic needs. Her passion for health promotion and disease prevention originated during her time conducting diabetes research. She proceeded to initiate a wellness program at the Weigand Homeless Resource Center, raising awareness on preventable chronic diseases disproportionately impacting individuals experiencing homelessness via bi-weekly presentations and activities. Emily is excited to begin working with the Baltimore community and Lori's Hands.
Johan Kamyab, JHSPH, MPH Student
- Project: "GIS Mapping"
- Community Partner: Good Harvest
Johan Kamyab was awarded his undergraduate degree at Johns Hopkins University in 2016, receiving an Honors B.S. in Molecular & Cellular Biology. Following graduation, he started his career at Flatiron Health, a digital health start-up focused on addressing disparities in cancer care, which was eventually purchased by Roche in a multi-billion dollar acquisition. During this time, Johan worked closely with one of the largest community oncology practices in the country, led initiatives such as chronic care management that impacted thousands of patients on a monthly basis, and was promoted to the role of Engagement Manager in February 2021. Privileged to have had an impact in narrowing the gap in healthcare disparities at Flatiron Health, Johan hopes to further refine his toolkit by earning a Masters in Public Health at his alma mater and apply these new tools to bridge gaps as part of the SOURCE Service Scholar Program.
Geethika Koneru, JHSPH, MPH Student
- Project: "MissionFit Storytelling Program"
- Community Partner: MissionFit
Geethika Koneru is a physician from India with a MD in Social and Preventive Medicine. She has worked with adolescent girls in rural India for her postgraduate dissertation and has used mixed methods to assess their physical and psycho-social health and health-seeking behavior. Following her postgraduation, she worked as a research associate at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in a joint project with UNICEF which assessed the role of supplementary feeding in children with acute malnutrition. Currently, she is pursuing her MPH at the Bloomberg School of Public Health with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Health.
Geethika is interested in promoting positive health in children and adolescents. Her career goals include designing and implementing systemic interventions at the community and policy levels to increase resilience and improve flourishing in young people. She enjoys writing stories and listening to other people’s stories. She loves reading books, meeting new people, learning about different cultures, and trying different cuisines. In her free time, you can find her working on her fantasy novel, learning digital art, or finding ways to harness social media platforms to discuss mental health and mindfulness with young minds.
Marcelina Kubika, JHSOM, M.D. Student
- Project: "3D-Wellness Pilot Program Development"
- Community Partner: EndsideOut, Inc.
Marcelina is a first-year medical student at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She graduated from Yale University in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biochemistry & Biophysics. While in college, Marcelina volunteered at the HAVEN Free Clinic, a local New Haven clinic providing primary care services for uninsured community members. She also worked as a Community Health Educator in New Haven high schools, educating students about sexual health. These experiences showed Marcelina the disparities that exist within health and healthcare, motivating her to pivot towards medicine with the goal of dedicating her career to addressing health inequity. Before entering medical school, Marcelina completed an AmeriCorps term as a Community Health Worker in her hometown of Ogden, UT. In this role, she connected clients with relevant resources while supporting them as they navigated various clinical and social spaces. Marcelina’s AmeriCorps term deepened her understanding of, and commitment to, both community health and community-based interventions. She is excited to work closely with Baltimore community members and develop relationships with them to better understand their experiences with health/healthcare inequities and disparities. Marcelina’s long-term goals involve integrating community and public health with clinical practice and advocating for health policy measures that increase health equity for all.
Stefany Lazieh, JHSOM, M.D. Student
- Project: "Refugee Mentorship Program Assistant"
- Community Partner: International Rescue Committee
Stefany Lazieh (she/her) is a first-year medical student at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She graduated in May 2020 from Rutgers University with a degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and minors in Arabic and Chemistry. Much of her extracurricular involvement as an undergraduate revolved around community service, and her interest in community-driven initiatives drew her to serve as an AmeriCorps member at a federally qualified health center (FQHC) in the Bronx during her gap year before medical school. In this year, she participated in patient outreach and service recovery efforts to develop a more trusting relationship with patients, administered patient and staff surveys to assess stigma faced by patients who use drugs, and became certified as a Narcan trainer and delivered Narcan trainings focused on the opioid epidemic and administering Narcan in emergency situations. Stefany is excited to bring her experience working in community settings to Baltimore and grow as both a student and a community advocate in the coming years.
Kevin Li, JHSPH, MSPH Student
- Project: "Wellness Affirming Program"
- Community Partner: Pride Center of Maryland
Kevin is a 1st year MSPH student at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He grew up in Edmonton, Canada, and graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science in Honors Cell Biology. With an interest in LGBTQ Health and HIV prevention, Kevin previously served as a peer support volunteer for queer students on campus, and organized arts and culture events during Pride Month to raise funds for unhoused LGBTQ2S+ youth in Edmonton. He has taken on a Research Assistant position with the Key Populations Program at the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health and Human Rights, where he will conduct systematic review of HIV-related data on female sex workers, MSM, transgender persons, incarcerated populations and people who inject drugs. Through his SOURCE Service Scholar Position, Kevin is excited to forge a deeper connection with the Baltimore community. In his spare time, Kevin enjoys cooking and baking, going to art museums, and playing the piano.
Carolina Lopez-Silva, JHSOM, M.D. Student
- Project: "Volunteer Coordination and Community Outreach Specialist"
- Community Partner: CASA de Maryland
Carolina Lopez-Silva is currently a second-year medical student at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Born and raised in Bogota, Colombia, Carolina moved to the United States shortly after graduating high school in 2016. She earned her Bachelor of Science in biology from William & Mary in May of 2020. During her time in college, Carolina served as president of her school's Latin American Student Union, where she strived to increase the organization’s impact on campus and in the broader Latinx Williamsburg communities. Throughout her first year of medical school, she volunteered at various COVID-19 testing and vaccination events in Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, where she had the opportunity to interact with and assist Spanish-speaking patients. During her free time, she enjoys cooking, working out, and playing with her cat, Melon. As an immigrant herself, Carolina has always been passionate about issues affecting Latinx, immigrant, and underrepresented populations, which is why this year she's very excited to partner with CASA de Maryland to address the needs of these diverse groups.
Aditi Luitel, JHSPH, MSPH Student
- Project: "Commodore to College"
- Community Partner: Commodore John Rodgers School
Aditi Luitel is a first-year Master of Science in Public Health student in the Department of International Health, Health Systems. She was born and raised in Nepal, where she also completed her Bachelor in Public Health from Nobel College, Pokhara University. For the past two and a half years, she has been involved in and led research and development work related to child rights, child education and protection, safeguarding, women's health, maternal and child health, Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), Child, Early and Forced Marriage (CEFM), child nutrition and, since 2020 – COVID-19. Currently, she is also engaged in a menstrual health research project (Dignity Without Danger) which aims to analyze stigma and taboos to develop innovative strategies to address menstrual exclusion in Nepal. She is excited to work with the Commodore John Rodgers School and contribute towards its vision, mission and goals.
Celina Pargas, JHSPH, MSPH Student
- Project: "Evaluation Strategies to Engage Baltimore Adolescents"
- Community Partner: Total Health Care
Celina Pargas is a Master of Science of Public Health student in the Department of Health Policy and Management. She graduated in 2020 from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health. Her educational and professional backgrounds primarily lie within public policy, community health programming, and clinical and laboratory science research. As a clinical technician at a concussion clinic in Tucson, Arizona, Celina’s collaboration on establishing concussion management initiatives to assist school health providers and administrators, further sparked her passion for community health program building. Through this work, Celina recognized the need for the integration of community assessments and research to better inform decision makers on the implementation of equitable, evidence- informed policy regarding dissemination of health information and preventative practices. She is excited to work with Total Health Care where she hopes to focus on the needs of the adolescent population and their families in Baltimore City.
Raymond So, JHSOM, M.D. Student
- Project: "Collective Volunteer Program"
- Community Partner: Roberta's House
Raymond So (he/him) is a first-year MD candidate at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry and Neuroscience from Harvard College in May 2021. During his undergraduate tenure, Raymond dedicated time to clinical sleep research, and helped to develop and implement a sleep wellness and mental health initiative for Harvard undergraduate students. Through his work with Alzheimer’s Buddies and the Elizabeth de Rham Hospice Home, he became interested in understanding ecosystems of healthy aging and palliative care, particularly for socially-disadvantaged populations. Raymond is excited to partner with Roberta’s House in their mission to center grief support in the healing process.
2020-2021 SOURCE Service Scholars
Ekene Akabike, JHSPH, MPH Student
- Project: "CJR Doodle Club: An After-school Art Program for Pre-K and K Students"
- Community Partner: The Commodore John Rodgers Elementary and Middle School
Ekene Akabike is a public health student at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is originally from Southern California, where she attends medical school at the University of California, San Diego. Ekene is interested in ensuring that her future role as a medical provider helps at the community level, not only at the individual. For that reason, she took a leave of absence from medical school to pursue a Masters in Public Health at Johns Hopkins. During her time at Johns Hopkins, Ekene looks forward to getting to know and work alongside the Baltimore community to learn from their continued growth and resiliency. In her free time, Ekene enjoys reading, cooking, baking, and finding local food spots to add to her foodie list.
Christina Ambrosino, JHSOM, M.D. Student
- Project: "Why Aren't There More Contractors in Baltimore? Examining Barriers to Entering the Construction and Contracting Fields"
- Community Partner: Green and Healthy Homes Initiative
Jeffrey Edwards, JHSPH, MPH Student
- Project: "Utilizing Community Networks in Barbershops and Salons to Address Covid-19 Vaccine Hesitancy in Baltimore, Maryland"
- Community Partner: 1009 E. Lombard Street Barbershop
Jeffrey Edwards is a fifth year MD/MPH candidate at Stanford University School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, respectively. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Neurobiology from Harvard College. In between undergraduate studies and medical school, Jeffrey spent a year in western Kenya conducting global health research through the Division of Global Health and Human Rights in the Emergency Medicine department at Massachusetts General Hospital. During college and medical school, Jeffrey has remained actively engaged in his local communities, working with elementary, middle and high school students underrepresented in medicine in a number of pipeline programs including ExperiMentors, Health Advocacy Program, Student National Medical Association and Health Career Collaborative with East Palo Alto Academy. Additionally, Jeffrey has volunteered teaching Sunday school at New Beginnings Community Church for the past 4 years. Towards the end of his tenure at Stanford, Jeffrey completed the Valley Fellowship, a fellowship through the Office of Community Engagement, in which he partnered with The Latino Cancer Institute, a community-based nonprofit tackling cancer care disparities facing Latino patients in California. Jeffrey’s career goals involve working with resource-limited communities in the U.S. and abroad to develop sustainable institutional partnerships and provide more equitable access to care for non-communicable diseases and chronic illnesses.
Mehdi Farokhnia, JHSPH, MPH Student
- Project: "House of Ruth Maryland (HRM) Storytellers: Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence Speaking for Change"
- Community Partner: House of Ruth Maryland
Mehdi Farokhnia is physician-scientist working at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Intramural Research program. His research is jointly supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), and the NIH Center on Compulsive Behaviors (CCB). His main scientific interests include: understanding the neurobiology of mental health illnesses, with a particular focus on alcohol and other substance use disorders; identifying novel druggable targets, through a combination of pharmacological, behavioral, genetic, and neuroimaging methods, to treat addictive disorders; and investigating the biobehavioral correlates of health disparity and minority health in relation to mental health. Mehdi Received his M.D. from Tehran University of Medical Sciences, completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the NIH, and is currently a part-time MPH student at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Xian Mao, JHSOM, M.D. Student
- Project: "2020 Talk Back: Engaging Social Justice Through Creative Writing"
- Community Partner: Nursing Public Health Network
Xian Mao (they/them) is currently a second-year medical student at Johns Hopkins. They hail from Salt Lake City, Utah, and they miss the view of the mountains every day. They are interested in addressing health disparities among the LGBTQ population, and during their undergraduate studies at Yale was involved in various LGBTQ affinity groups, as well as volunteering regularly with AIDS Project New Haven. In their spare time, they enjoy creative writing, and they were honored to have written a short play that was produced in the 2018 DC Queer Theater Festival.
Katie Nelson, JHSON, Ph.D. Student
- Project: "The Four R's of the Roberta's House Volunteer Program"
- Community Partner: Roberta's House
Katie Nelson MSN, RN is a hospice nurse whose research interest is in access to, and delivery of, palliative care in socially disadvantaged populations. She has served on the SOURCE Student Governing Board since 2019.
Katie is originally from Minnesota (Ski-U-Mah!), and in her free time she enjoys volunteering in the community, being active outside, traveling, and spending time with loved ones.
Anna Peeler, JHSON, Ph.D. Student
- Project: "Social and Emotional Circles"
- Community Partner: Soccer Without Borders
I grew up in Memphis, TN and graduated from the University of Alabama in 2017 with a degree in nursing. I worked as a nurse at JHH in the CVSICU for two years then decided to go back to school to get my PhD so I could make a broader impact in the nursing field. I am interested in studying cardiovascular disease and the process of aging. I live and work in the East Baltimore community, and I am really passionate about making it a better, safer, and more inclusive place for all people. I am so excited to have the opportunity to work with Soccer without Borders in the upcoming school year. I love their mission to keep kids healthy, supported, and engaged while also giving them the tools they need to thrive in the American school system.
Alicia Ramirez JHSON, MSN Student
- Project: "Navigating Health Insurance While Seeking Transgender-Affirming Care"
- Community Partner: FreeState Justice
Alicia Ramirez is a first year School of Nursing student. She earned a degree in Biology from UC Riverside in 2016 and has worked at two federally qualified health centers since then. At the first one, The Children’s Clinic of Long Beach, she assisted Spanish speaking victims of domestic violence obtain resources and support and also became a domestic violence promotora and facilitated community presentations on sexual assault, stalking, and domestic violence. She then worked at APLA Health (formerly AIDS Project Los Angeles) as a patient navigator and health educator providing education on hypertension and diabetes, and outreaching to patients to get them screened for colon cancer and cervical cancer. While at APLA Health Alicia helped launch well womxn Wednesday’s in efforts to create a safe space for both cis and trans womxn seeking much needed cancer and other health screenings. Working at APLA Health inspired Alicia to pursue a master’s degree in nursing. Alicia is excited to partner with FreeState Justice in their mission to provide legal services to the LGBTQ+ community and effect policy change.
Sydney Sahasrabudhe, JHSON
- Project: "When Service and Learning Go Hand in Hand"
- Community Partner: Henderson-Hopkins School
Sydney is a forth semester student at the School of Nursing. Originally from Ithaca, NY, Sydney earned her bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University in 2017. At Brandeis she studied African American Studies and Health Sciences. As a South Asian woman, Sydney feels a strong passion for helping underserved populations. After graduating undergrad Sydney spent 6-months abroad in India, visiting family and working with the non-profit CITTA. CITTA is an organization that works on empowering communities through healthcare and education. Here Sydney assisted the nurses, digitized 50 years of data and formed meaningful relationships with students by teaching math at the elementary school. At Hopkins she works as a research assistant on the HEAL study which focuses on postpartum care for Black mothers in Baltimore, she is an advocate for students with disabilities, and is active in COP (Community Outreach Program). Sydney is excited to begin working with Henderson-Hopkins, where she hopes to center the needs of the community and students.
Kelsey Williams, JHSPH, MSPH Student
- Project: "Education to Independence: Health Education Workshop Program at Project PLASE"
- Community Partner: Project PLASE
Kelsey Williams is a Master of Science of Public Health student in the Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health. She graduated in 2019 from Tulane University with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health. Much of her undergraduate coursework and research focused on sexual and reproductive health (SRH), including publishing a case study on Louisiana SRH policy, pursuing research on a digital STI education intervention, and completing an honors thesis on the evaluation of a sex education and contraception access initiative in Nairobi, Kenya. She also served as the President of the undergraduate group Students United for Reproductive Justice and spent time volunteering for the New Orleans Abortion Fund. She speaks Spanish and Swahili, and has lived and travelled in Latin America and East Africa. Kelsey is excited to apply her health education and curriculum design skills to Project PLASE’s Education to Independence project. She looks forward to serving the Baltimore community while expanding her focus to a wider range of family and community health topics. In her free time, Kelsey is an avid reader, writer, and runner, and jumps at any opportunity for a captivating conversation over a cup of coffee.
Lekha Yesantharao, JHSOM, M.D. Student
- Project: "Empowering Refugee Youth: Providing Sustainable Support through the Refugee Youth Mentorship Program"
- Community Partner: International Rescue Committee
Lekha Yesantharao is a first-year medical student. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in biomedical engineering from Columbia University in May 2020. Lekha served as President of Columbia GlobeMed, a global/public health organization with chapters all over the nation dedicated to mobilizing students and grassroots leaders to improve health and health equity for people around the world. Through GlobeMed, Lekha has worked on a long-term partnership with Gulu Women’s Economic Development and Globalization (GWED-G), a grassroots NGO promoting human rights, maternal/fetal health, and HIV/AIDS prevention and destigmatization in northern Uganda. Efforts included health education for local community members, as well as mentorships for young men and women in the community. Working on this international project, however, quickly led Lekha to realize that so many of the same issues relating to access to healthcare, women’s health, HIV/AIDS, and preventative medicine exist right here in our local communities. Thus, Lekha is passionate about community-based work, and hopes to apply her experiences in public health, mentorship, and fighting for health/social equity to community service.
Pooja Yesantharao, JHSOM, M.D. Student
- Project: "Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative Education Fund: The Prescription Drug Affordability Board"
- Community Partner: Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative
Pooja Yesantharao was born and raised in Texas, but she spent a lot of her childhood traveling back and forth to her grandparents’ home in India. Having this dual-upbringing inspired in her a sense of community and a sense of culture, both of which have perpetuated throughout her academic career and personal life. In college, she served in multiple cultural organizations, and she was also president of the Rice Student Volunteer Program. In these roles she found multiple ways to contribute to the Greater Houston community, including city-wide multicultural initiatives, culturally-sensitive education programs for refugee communities, STEM initiatives in local schools, blood drives, and drives for the local food bank. During graduate school in California, Pooja further expanded her service efforts on a global scale, founding a health education initiative that was recognized as a Clinton Global Initiative (University). Pooja moved to Baltimore four years ago, for medical school. She was immediately drawn to the unique culture of the city, and she got involved with community initiatives right away. She began working in the Charm City Clinic, helping to triage patients and provide counseling. After working with many patients who suffered horrific health consequences as a result of their inability to afford healthcare and medications, she also got involved with patient advocacy efforts and served as Vice President of Hopkins’ American Medical Association Student Chapter as well as the national student representative for the American Medical Women’s Association. Through these roles, she wrote and advocated for multiple pieces of legislation on disparities in access to medical and surgical care. This year, she looks forward to working with the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative Education. By taking part in the Prescription Drug Affordability Initiative, she hopes to advocate for patients by collecting and sharing their narratives in a meaningful way, to help engender prescription drug reform.
2019-2020 SOURCE Service Scholars
Libby Aldridge - Master of Science in Nursing Student, SON
Libby Aldridge is a third semester School of Nursing student. She earned her Bachelor of Science in public health and Master of Public Health degrees from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine’s combined degree program. At Tulane, she was a peer health educator, an STI and HIV tester and educator, and a member of the undergraduate student government. While living in New Orleans, Libby volunteered as the Patient Education Leader at the Grace House, an inpatient substance abuse facility for women. She also conducted health policy research and advocacy and connected individuals to health insurance and primary care with 504HealthNet, a non-profit association of 60 federally qualified health centers in New Orleans. While working in these clinical settings and learning more about disparities in access to healthcare in the U.S., Libby realized her passion to become a nurse and empower others to understand and take control of their health. Since moving to Baltimore last fall, Libby has begun working as a SOURCE HIV tester and counselor in the Johns Hopkins Hospital Emergency Department. She also volunteers as grant writing support for the Shepherd’s Clinic. This past spring, she also had the pleasure of co-leading health education to a third grade class at the Henderson-Hopkins elementary school.
Community Partner: Project PLASE, Inc.
Project Title and Description: "Education to Independence Development"
Project PLASE is looking to develop programming to assist clients in reaching their best potential in independence. "Education to Independence" would provide clients with weekly, research-based education on health and wellness. The workshops will focus on a different health topic each week. Many of Project PLASE's clients are sick, but have not received proper education on their varied illnesses and disabilities. The workshops can be related to the specific needs of clients, but also focus on a greater range of wellness related topics, such as nutrition, exercise and everyday illnesses (like the cold and flu). Aldridge will be responsible for developing a research-based curriculum to implement at both, or one, of Project PLASE's two transitional housing centers.
Yolanda Arthur - Master of Public Health Student, JHSPH
Yolanda Arthur is medical doctor and has been working in public sector hospitals of Accra, Ghana, for the past two years in various departments; specifically Internal Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology; and Pediatrics and Anesthesia. She was instrumental in organizing and volunteering medical outreaches for numerous communities within Accra. These outreaches involved free screening of various communities and underprivileged groups for diabetes, hypertension, breast cancer, otitis media and tonsillitis. Some organizations Yolanda has worked with include the Rotary Club and Osu Children’s home, both in Accra, Ghana to name a few. Yolanda drove a campaign to increase awareness of cervical and breast cancers within her community, where she delivered presentations on both these cancers, impacting about 700 people. Working with children since 2008, Yolanda has participated in a number of projects invested in child development such as with Youth Education Learning Program (YELP). Here she worked as a tutor and personal mentor with the aim to help students reach their maximum potential by providing a constant support system through both weekly mentoring sessions and Saturday School programs. She also worked with the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) where she facilitated the planning and implementation of events that addressed the needs of the local youth community. Yolanda was born in the United Kingdom, but was raised, studied and worked in both the U.K. and Ghana, West Africa. In addition to this she has had experience working in the U.S. and Spain, giving her a dynamic and international background with a passion for helping children and improving health care. She is a graduate of King’s College London University where she attained a BSc Biochemistry. She is also a graduate of the University of Ghana Medical School where she attained her second degree in medicine.
Community Partner: Bmore4Kidz
Project Title and Description: "Bmore4Kidz Community-Serving Makerspace"
Bmore4Kidz Makerspace is a community organizing project to tap into community interest, create strong alliances and tailor services to those that need them and build long-term value for users. It will draw upon data from local context and best practices for starting and sustaining a shared space as well as surveyed answers from community partners and users. Through the Start Making Curriculum being used for the Young Makers Program, participants and their families will participate in developing basic maker skills, and be encouraged and recruited to be mentors/facilitators for sustainable, dynamic community makerspace.
Alexis Bartelloni - Master of Science in Public Health Student, JHSPH
Alexis grew up in New Jersey before moving to Baltimore to complete her bachelor's degree at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) where she also competed in cross country and track. During her undergraduate tenure, she became interested in the social determinants of health through volunteering in Baltimore City schools. She also served as peer health educator for UMBC's university health services where she lead health education workshops and helped create health programs for her campus. Alexis is pursuing the MSPH in Health Education and Health Communication in the Department of Health, Behavior, and Society, where she hopes to further study the social factors which influence human health. She is looking forward to working with the Baltimore Squashwise program and combining her interests of athletics and health education to affect change.
Community Partner: Baltimore SquashWise
Project Title and Description: "SquashWise Mentorship Program"
SquashWise’s Mentorship Program is meant to pair mentors one-on-one with SquashWise participant students in grades 9-12. Through the program, mentors build lasting relationships with students and help with homework; provide career exposure; motivate and encourage students to succeed, often drawing from personal experiences; support SAT prep; aid in college research, selection, and application; build organizational skills; and provide other required mentorship to help students prepare for professional and personal success. Mentors are usually college or graduate students who commit for a semester, with the option to extend the relationship over multiple semesters and years. SquashWise has completed the initial pilot stage (grade 11 students only) of this Mentorship Program. Bartelloni will further develop and take this new program to scale, building a robust process for mentor recruitment, training and retention that will result in all SquashWise high school students (~25) being matched with and supported by a one-on-one mentor.
Faraah Bekheet - First Year Medical Student, SOM
Faraah Bekheet obtained her Bachelor’s of Science degrees in chemistry and economics from the University of Miami. Faraah has been president of a service organization committed to supplementing the education of K-12 students; been trained as an HIV counselor and substance abuse counselor for both adolescents and adult women; and worked as a pharmaceutical technician. Faraah is a first year medical student and hopes to apply her experiences in education, public health and policy to community service.
Community Partner: New Song Community Learning Center
Project Title and Description: "Charting the Future"
New Song Community Learning Center's elementary-middle school is in the process of applying for charter status and is in need of guidance and support for visioning the future and expansion of educational possibilities for New Song's students and families. To this end, the NSCLC seeks assistance examining different charter models in Baltimore and across the nation. Additionally, NSCLC seeks assistance evaluating what it may need to grow and advance into a 21st-century charter that will influence health and well-being into its students, families, and communities. As the lead working with the board charting the future of the transition process, Bekheet will be responsible for conducting research on charter best practices; identifying case studies and transition plans for elementary-middle charter development; and designing opportunities for parents, board members and staff to collaborate on the vision, goals and direction of the new charter.
Emma Cannon - Master of of Science in Nursing Student, SON
Emma Cannon is a first year MSN-Entry into Nursing student. She graduated from Fairfield University in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in international studies and Spanish, and joined the Peace Corps in Guatemala shortly thereafter. During Emma’s time in the Peace Corps, she worked with the Ministries of Health and Education at the local, state, and national level to implement the national Healthy Schools Strategy, intended to improve basic health and hygiene in rural primary school students. During her time in Guatemala, she developed interests in preventative health programming, community health, and public health. Her exposure to community health care providers during this experience is what piqued her interest in nursing. Following her time in the Peace Corps, Emma went on to Washington D.C. to work on a USAID-funded Zika response project in Latin America. Emma supported teams of health care providers and public health professionals as they worked with Ministries of Health to develop Zika-related national care protocols and to improve Zika care delivery pathways. Emma’s interest in the project’s combination of clinical expertise with a public health approach, in addition to her desire to contribute to health improvement in a hands-on capacity, is what ultimately led Emma to pursue a career in nursing. She is excited to work with the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative and to combine her passion for preventative health initiatives benefiting underserved communities with her nursing school career.
Community Partner: Green & Healthy Homes Initiative
Project Title and Description: "Grants & Foundations Change Management Initiative"
GHHI is adjusting its strategic plan to include methods for addressing change management. Most change happens for one of two reasons: unexpected circumstances or intentional changes to promote progress. For this "Grant & Foundations Change Management Initiative," GHHI will explore and implement change management plans to address the constant state of flux in funding for nonprofits, as well as the technologies that facilitate management of funds from grants, contracts, and foundations. Cannon will coordinate a group of four to seven volunteers to develop a "best practice-based" plan for GHHI to seamlessly manage, maintain and improve funding management processes.
Nicole Fischer - First Year Medical Student, SOM and Master of Public Health Student, JHSPH
Nicole Fischer grew up in Los Angeles, California where her strong interest in outreach for indigent communities first began. In college, she helped organize and facilitate free health fairs in Los Angeles to provide immunizations, diabetes testing, anemia screening, dental care, counseling, and other services for the uninsured families and youth of the community. Years later, she went on to coordinate multiple community outreach programs under the UCLA School of Public Health that focused on improving the health and quality of life for black and Latinx community members in southern California. One project provided overweight and obese patients with the necessary tools and knowledge they needed to help live healthier lives including exercise equipment, healthy recipe cookbooks, grocery funds, and cooking classes. On another project, we used mentoring and social media approaches to reduce drug use in at-risk youth within LA County. Three years ago, she moved to Baltimore for medical school and fell in love with the city. As a medical student, she had the opportunity to provide healthcare to community members of Baltimore, but she has been eager to do more and serve this community in a more direct and tangible way. She visited the Esperanza Center and was astounded by the amount of services this one organization provides for the Latinx and immigrant community in Baltimore. She is, therefore, very excited to design and implement the Esperanza Center Community Advisory Council through the SOURCE Service Scholars program. This year, she looks forward to strengthening the services provided by the Esperanza Center, fortifying Hopkins’ relationship with Baltimore and working endlessly to serve this community.
Community Partner: The Esperanza Center
Project Title and Description: "Design and Implementation of an Esperanza Center Community Advisory Council"
The Esperanza Center has long discussed and strategized the best way to implement a Community Advisory Council, composed of program participants, community members and other stakeholders. This council would deliver advice, recommendations and feedback on services to Esperanza's leadership team, thereby enhancing services and interactions with the community. However, the Esperanza Center's staff has not had the bandwidth to make this idea a reality. Fischer will research best practices for a Community Advisory Council, drawing up guidelines, bylaws, member agreements and responsibilities; recruit and orient members; and serve as minute keeper/moderator in the first several council meetings.
Bethany Hung - First Year Medical Student, SOM
Bethany Hung graduated from Brown University in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science degree in cognitive neuroscience. During her time there, she focused on reproductive justice advocacy—via both NARAL and Planned Parenthood. Early her sophomore year, she co-founded the Rhode Island branch of NARAL, raising awareness of blue Rhode Island’s anti-choice policies and hosting panels with local representatives. In 2019, Brown NARAL testified and campaigned at the statehouse for what passed as Rhode Island’s first successful pro-choice reproductive health bill. As president in 2018, Hung pushed for a refocusing of organization objectives towards a more intersectional view of reproductive justice that critically examined racial and socioeconomic disparities in healthcare access. Meanwhile, at Planned Parenthood, she was a welcome team member. Every weekend, she met abortion patients and shielded them from vocal protesters as they entered the clinic. Hung is also deeply invested in art and its restorative powers, specifically through design editor positions at Brown’s music magazine and progressive independent newspaper. Here, she is eager to unite these various energies with Baltimore’s through reproductive education and emotional healing programs at New Song and work towards a healthy relationship between Hopkins and the surrounding community.
Community Partner: New Song Community Learning Center
Project Title and Description: "Reproductive Health Outreach"
New Song has observed that adolescent reproductive health (e.g. menstruation) is a taboo topic amongst young girls in school at New Song, and that many students are reluctant to discuss puberty and its accompanying changes. Also, New Song realizes that some parents may not appreciate how critical adolescent development is, and how home behaviors one night may impact students’ well-beings at school the next morning. Of course, New Song hopes to foster as healthy of a learning environment as possible—including beyond-the-classroom learning that addresses each student’s life context. In pursuit of this mission, Hung will develop and coordinate a program to disseminate information about adolescent and reproductive health to both NSC students and their parents. As part of the development process, she will research how to best structure the information in a broadly accessible manner, in conjunction with methods for increasing community engagement and mobilization.
Anna Najor - Master of Public Health Student, JHSPH
Growing up in the Chaldean ethnic enclave in San Diego, California provided Anna Najor with a robust real-world curriculum on the power of community resilience to enable health and wellbeing. Ms. Najor’s experience as a caregiver combined with her love of science led her to medical school at the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine in Rochester, MN. Her work to support health equity continued there, when she observed that her school did not have training on caring for LGBTQ people. She pursued a master’s degree online through Arizona State University in Healthcare Delivery Sciences and then designed, implemented, and developed training on caring for LGBTQ people at her medical school. She completed her third year of medical school and is now pursuing a master’s in public health at Johns Hopkins. Her focus in public health includes learning techniques to study marginalized populations since data representation is crucial for allocation of resources and advocacy purposes. Ms. Najor has observed this in her work advocating for her LGBTQ community and her work advocating for her Chaldean community as it is destabilized by genocide in Iraq and deportation in the United States. Additionally, she will focus her public health studies on using that information to build programs and policies to support community resilience.
Community Partner: GEDCO
Project Title and Description: "Outreach to Member Organizations and the Surrounding Community"
The project involves developing a plan to get GEDCO's 56 member organizations more involved, especially those organizations that have not been involved as well as expand the number of organizations by targeting other organizations in the nearby community. The plan may incorporate social media, working with members of GEDCO's Board on the Membership and Marketing committees. The project would also include execution of some of the plan such as calling members, developing a survey, sending out mailers to get information and to engage members and the organizations in the surrounding community. The goal of the project would be to get more Members involved with volunteering and supporting GEDCO programs. Also, GEDCO would like to identify ways to better communicate with member organizations as well as non-member organizations in the community. Najor will be working with GEDCO's Marketing and Member Organization Committee in leading the development of this outreach plan and managing volunteers to implement the plan.
Carla Rodriguez - First Year Medical Student, SOM
Carla Rodriguez is a first year medical student at Johns Hopkins. She graduated from the University of Miami in 2017 with a bachelor's in microbiology and immunology. Carla worked in research in cancer and diabetes before entering Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Born and raised in Miami, Florida to immigrant parents and surrounded by a diverse group of individuals, she realized the difference in care many received. Carla discovered her passion for service while vacationing in Central America. Seeing the community help each other in times of need she also wanted to be involved and now takes an extra suitcase filled with essential items to these countries every time she goes. Continuing her involvement in her own community, she joined the Communities of Health initiative at West Kendall Hospital and was able to assist in stocking a room filled with necessary items for homeless students in a local high school. Determined to help others in her path to be a physician, Carla is very interested in bridging the gap in health disparities among minority groups so that all can receive the best standard of care.
Community Partner: Baltimore Urban Leadership Foundation/The Door
Project Title and Description: "Hispanic Community Outreach"
The Door seeks to build and strengthen existing ties with the Hispanic communities in its vicinity. This outreach would include increasing awareness of the Door, making people feel welcome once in the program and improving family communications, although having someone fluent in Spanish is key. In order to address the comparatively low numbers of Hispanic students participating in the Door's After School Program or Summer Camp, Rodriguez will provide recommendations to the Door about how to expand Hispanic youth participation; conduct local focus groups and outreach to local schools and neighborhoods; research similar programs; and identify potential resources to assist in the plan's implementation.
Annika Skansberg - Master of Public Health Student, JHSPH
Annika Skansberg is a JD/MPH student at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Northeastern University School of Law. She is originally from Minneapolis, MN, but currently lives in Boston, MA. She is interested primarily in maternal/child health, access to healthcare, and global health policy.
Community Partner: The Family Tree
Project Title and Description: "24/7 Parenting Call Line"
The Family Tree has recently completed a strategic plan committing the organization to modernizing its responses, and is now seeking to update its Parent Call Line for alignment with this goal. For years, staff, volunteers and interns have operated the line, but now the Family Tree seeks assistance to research best practices that will help improve the training and onboarding of new volunteers to helplines/call lines. Skansberg will be responsible for examining case studies, best practices, and contextual considerations to improve training resources; evaluating the current call line system; and identifying methods for call line modernization based on advancement in technology with the use of smartphones and phone-based applications.
Ashely Vroegindewey - Master of Science in Nursing Student, SON
Originally from Colorado, Ashley graduated in 2014 from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology and a minor in philosophy. Following her undergraduate years, Ashley worked as a certified nurse aide (CNA) at a nursing home that specialized in dementia care and research. Ashley then continued on her health care experiences but at the grassroots level through her Peace Corps service. For her first two years as a health educator in Senegal, Ashley coordinated with local partners and stakeholders in promoting sustainable health initiatives within the community. It is there where her involvement and passion in working with women and children, especially female adolescents, really grew and deepened. Partnered with the local midwife and other Peace Corps Volunteers, Ashley taught good health practices for mothers of households and mentored secondary school girls in life skills and career plans. For an extended third year in Peace Corps Senegal, Ashley interned with Catholic Relief Services in supporting numerous projects, such as sanitation and latrine accessibility, while gaining more experiences and skills in partnership-building and in behavior change communication. Following Senegal, Ashley spent 8-months in France to work as a language teaching assistant for students at the middle and high school level in supporting their English curriculum and cultural exchange while improving her French as well. Through Operation P.U.L.S.E.’s Human Trafficking and Train the Trainer Opioid Awareness program Ashley is boldly encouraged to pursue her love for nursing in face of gender and social disparities by working for an at-risk female population in Eastern Baltimore.
Community Partner: Operation PULSE
Project Title and Description: "Human Trafficking and Train the Trainer Opioid Awareness"
This project has two focuses. The first is in partnership with The Samaritan Women. Along with a team, Vroegindewey will build an ongoing training program for the community to equip residents with the knowledge of human trafficking and how to identify a victim as well as provide training on how to contact authorities to administer help. The second part of the project will focus on building a training program for community residents to equip them with the knowledge of addiction causes and how to handle someone experiencing overdose of opioids.
Sara Wallam - First Year Medical Student, SOM
Sara Wallam is a recent graduate from the University of South Carolina and first-year medical student at Johns Hopkins. She is from Columbia, South Carolina and has lived there for most of her life, so she is very excited to live in Baltimore city and explore all that it has to offer. Over the past few years, she has become increasingly passionate about working with and advocating for those whose voices are often not heard. She has advocated for uninsured individuals, survivors of sexual assault, and refugees and asylum seekers, and she has worked for a local non-profit justice and advocacy organization back home on refugee issues. She hopes to be able to continue her advocacy work here in Baltimore and to incorporate it into her practice in the future.
Community Partner: Soccer Without Borders
Project Title and Description: "Newcomer Access Workshops Coordinator"
Soccer Without Borders has identified where more comprehensive supports are needed for newcomer youth researching and applying for colleges. Currently, SWB offers high school seniors the oportunity to participate in existing College Access Workshops, where students are matched with volunteers as they go through the application process. Wallam will expand on this programming in her role as Newcomer Access Workshops Coordinator, developing a curriculum around college access that can be utilized at different workshops to make the sessions more impactful to students and find ways to include parents in this process. By the end of 2019-2020, this curriculum will be centralized into a College Access Manual that can be used for future workshops in the subsequent academic year.
Bettina Wunderlich - PhD Candidate, Global Disease Epidemiology and Control, JHSPH
Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, Bettina completed her BS at Johns Hopkins University in molecular & cellular biology. During college, she was a TA for Introduction to Business and was an active member of Art Brigade, a volunteer organization that developed art projects for children in Baltimore public schools. She then moved to Chicago for an MS in Biotechnology at Northwestern University, where she focused on global health and interned at UCT in South Africa to conduct research on the cost-effectiveness of point-of-care diagnostics for Tuberculosis. She then worked as a Life Sciences Business Technology Analyst at Deloitte for over a year. She is now starting a PhD in Global Disease Epidemiology and Control and is most interested in neglected tropical diseases and vaccines. For the past two and a half years, Bettina has been a volunteer for College Guild, a program that provides prisoners with the opportunity to pursue ongoing learning while incarcerated, and she is excited to work with a program that also helps incarcerated citizens by providing employment after they have left prison. Bettina is looking forward to working with Strength to Love 2 and is eager to apply her consulting and volunteer experiences to help enhance their program.
Community Partner: Strength to Love 2 (a program of Intersection of Change)
Project Title and Description: "S2L2 Program Evaluation"
Strength to Love II (S2L2) is a program in the process of collecting data in order to guide and enhance program operation. This applies to crop production and sale at S2L2's farm as well as in the preogram's work with ex-offenders employed at S2L2 and through a new workforce development initiative. Wunderlich will review data (from farm harvest and shipping logs, invoices and sales) with the goal of evaluating and enhancing program operation and outcomes, then implement recommendations into the program and modify tracking documents to ensure strong operational follow-up.
Miranda Zeng - Master of Science in Nursing Student, SON
Miranda Zeng graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County with a bachelor of arts degree in psychology and minor in sociology. In undergrad, she served as a student coordinator and President for UMBC's Best Buddies chapter. As a student coordinator, she helped manage service-learner recruitment, organize orientations and hold reflection sessions for service learners. As president, she helped advance an active chapter which promoted inclusion and diversity with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. After serving as an undergraduate and learning about many different forces which affect communities, she wanted to be active with SOURCE to become more involved in Baltimore's community. She has a passion for working with local organizations to promote their successes and is excited to be working with Clay Pots with a community-based approach.
Community Partner: Clay Pots...A Place to Grow
Project Title and Description: "Continuing Steps to Success: Bridging GED Services"
Clay Pots offers GED classes, adult education and private tutoring, all of which are offered in an intimate environment to ensure students receive the support and individual services they need. Recently, students at Clay Pots have expressed frustration with gaining meaningful employment both after graduation and while enrolled in the program. Thinking about how to best meet the professional needs of their students, Clay Pots has explored building a workforce development program that would fit well in the continuum of services and eliminate some of the barriers their students are facing as they develop future plans. Zeng will be responsible for connecting with local workforce initiatives to assess potential resources for Clay Pots' students; designing career days for students to work on professional skills; and identifying unique needs of the GED students to connect them with community services, among other duties.