2018 Short-Term Team Members


Samuel Aptekar

Sam is a rising senior at UC Berkeley where he majors in History with an emphasis in Medical Anthropology. Academically, he has been inspired by the works of Berkeley anthropologists, Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Seth Holmes, who critically engage in the political-economic determinants of health inequity through their writing and personal activism. Having grown up in Gilroy, CA, Sam plans to write his senior History thesis on the health of migrant farm workers- a population he would like to work with as a hopeful physician. His passion for global health equity led him to work on a HIV-drug resistance project in Windhoek, Namibia and brought him to Sofia, Bulgaria as an intern for the Health Unit of the US Embassy. After graduation, he plans to gain clinical experience in a global health setting before applying for an MD and PhD in Medical Anthropology.

Karen Cortez

Karen is a recent graduate from UC Berkeley where she majored in political science and molecular biology. Karen is heavily involved in her community, and her ultimate life goal is to make a difference in the world by helping those who need it the most. She teaches health education to ninth-graders in impoverished high schools, where she is able to raise awareness about mental health, sexual health and making healthy choices. She is also a Health Advocate at San Francisco General Hospital, where she helps families connect with resources in the community and as a result help them resolve their insecurities. After completing her undergraduate career, she plans on taking some time off school and working for a non-profit or for a world health organization. Further down the road, she plans on applying to a MPH/MD program.

Mariam Abdalgadir

Mariam is a recent graduate from the University of California, San Diego with a degree in Biochemistry/Cell Biology and minors in Global health & African American Studies. She is invested in promoting health equity and challenging the way health systems approach structural deficiencies that influence precarious life conditions. Mariam has a passion for community health advocacy and draws from her background as a child of Sudanese immigrants to influence her work with African/Black and Middle Eastern populations. Currently, Mariam is a women’s health advocate at the UCSD School of Medicine Refugee Health Unit where she holds a weekly conversation series with women of the African/Middle Eastern diaspora to provide a safe space to discuss topics surrounding sexual/reproductive health. Most recently, she had the opportunity to travel to Columbia, South Carolina and work with two local non-profit organizations to provide health screenings and resources to it’s marginalized African American & Latinx populations. Mariam plans to pursue an MPH in Global Health and a Ph.D in Medical Anthropology.

Isabella Polese

Isabella, or Izzy, will be entering her senior year in the fall as a Public Health major and Global Poverty minor at UC Berkeley. During the school year, she works with The Suitcase Clinic, a student run free clinic for the unhoused and underserved Berkeley population, as the secretary of the internal committee and service coordinator for the women’s clinic. Izzy has also worked on several economic development projects for a ministry on the Yakama Indian Reservation, specifically with a financially literacy program for a newly created screen printing business. Through this experience and her continued relationship with this organization, Izzy has discovered her passion for health justice specially among American Indian Reservation communities. After graduation, she hopes to obtain a Masters in Public Health to cultivate her knowledge and pursuit of health equity on reservations. Her hobbies include painting, crafting, and playing sports, and her favorite place to be is in the ocean!

Summer 2017 Short-Term Team Members



Bianca Darita Pais

Bianca is an international student from India, pursuing a double major in Public Health and Anthropology at UC Berkeley. During her gap-year, Bianca had the opportunity to work alongside and learn from patients and caregivers in settings devoted to HIV/AIDS research and community support in Ghana, Kenya, Colombia and Ecuador. Last summer she served as an intern at México’s Centros de Integración Juvenil in Tampico, a substance abuse counseling, care and government outreach initiative, arranging conversational forums in high schools on behalf of the centros. She serves as a research assistant at UCSF’s Substance Abuse Research Program and as a ‘caseworker’ at Suitcase Clinic’s Youth & LGBTQ+ space, advocating for those housing insecure in Berkeley.

Nikki Singh

Nikki is a rising senior at University of Washington. She is majoring in Medical Anthropology & Global Health with a minor in Human Rights. Nikki is most interested in understanding the barriers to equitable health care and the human right to health. She is heavily involved in the international organization Child Rights and You, a non profit dedicated to supporting and providing resources for children in South Asia. Nikki is also a Research Intern for the Social Media and Adolescent Health Behavior Research Team (SMAHRT) at Seattle Children's Research Institute where she had the chance to work on projects such as the marijuana industry's usage of social media and an independent research project centered on Facebook events alcohol and safety messaging. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a MPH in epidemiology and one day combine her interests in research and health equity to support policy reforms around the globe.


Summer 2016 Short-Term Team Members



Omar Alonzo

Omar is a rising senior at UC Berkeley pursuing a major in Public Health and a minor in Demography. He has been involved with Health Leads as well as being part of DULCE, an organization that focuses on the prevention of type II diabetes in disadvantaged communities. He is currently working on his research on type II diabetes in the Latino community and will try to start writing his thesis in the upcoming Fall. He plans to pursue a Masters and a Ph.D in Public Health.

Anna Blachman

Anna is a recent graduate from Pomona College majoring in Molecular Biology. She is interested in global health through the lens of structural violence and is committed to systemic change through both resource and policy mechanisms. Anna has spent the past two summers seeking out opportunities to explore public health, first conducting patient intake at a clinic in Cusco, Peru, and then engaging in proposal writing and project development for FHI360 with the Laboratory Sciences Division in Bangkok, Thailand. This summer, she will be working with the HEAL Initiative as their monitoring and evaluation intern. She will also be exploring northern California for the first time and is especially excited to check out the social dance scene.

Leyla Farshidpour

Leyla is currently an upcoming senior undergraduate student at California State University, Fresno where she is pursuing a B.S. in Biochemistry with the intent of attending medical school after graduation. She is particularly interested in the intersection between environmental health (including the effects of climate change) and human health. She believes that addressing this aspect of healthcare will be crucial in the coming years, especially for those interested in pursuing a career in global healthcare. For the past three years, Leyla has been involved with the Fresno chapter of the Tzu Chi Mobile Clinic, a global clinic dedicated to providing quality medical, dental, and optometric care to underserved populations around the world. Leyla has also been a part of the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program (DDCSP), interned with the Geological Society of America, and is currently a medical scribe at Community Regional Medical Center.

Evan Layefsky

Evan is a senior at UC Berkeley majoring in public health. For the past couple of years he has been working in a soil microbiology lab and supporting development initiatives at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.  He took this past semester off to travel to Morocco to conduct research on the country’s new migration legislation, and to intern at a public health school in Spain. He is passionate about alleviating educational disparities and works as the finance director for the Mixed Student Union Recruitment and Retention Center (MSURRC), a campus organization dedicated to increasing the representation of underprivileged students of color in higher education. Evan is very excited to use his experience with grant writing and development to help support the HEAL Initiative fundraising and expansion efforts this summer!

Hiwot Misker

Hiwot Misker is an undergraduate studying Molecular Cell Biology at UC Berkeley. After volunteering at free clinics across the bay area under the program SSHCOP (Stanford Summer Health Careers Opportunity Program), she realized the importance of health equity and advocacy for health care reform.  Since then Hiwot has been bridging the gap of health care professional representation by being a study group leader for Biology Scholars Program, an organization that serves minority students at Berkeley. Hiwot has experience in organizing and coordinating conferences and leading recruitments as the On and Off Campus Outreach chair for HASA (Horn of Africa Student Association). Now Hiwot will be working as the social media and business development intern where she hopes to expand HEAL and learn more about the nonprofit sector.

Hoang Nguyen

At an early age, Hoang relocated from a rural village in Hue, Vietnam to the Philippines, and then to the U.S. Inspired by the community around him, Hoang pursued a Bachelors of Science in Public Health at the University of Maryland, College Park in hopes that he can uplift other refugee and vulnerable communities. Hoang has been working with the Viet Nam Medical Assistance Program (VNMAP) to alleviate the health disparities that exist in the local Asian American community through outreach programs such as hepatitis B screening, education, and vaccination. His first global health exposure was assisting physicians in providing care to indigenous populations in Costa Rica and Panama where he saw that these short-term solutions were not sustainable. He pursued more long-term approaches and is currently the assistant manager for the PrimCARE project, a pilot project that aims towards creating a better primary care delivery model in the rural Mekong Delta region of Vietnam. Hoang also loves working with students. Recently, he led a medical mission trip to Vietnam for undergraduate students and tutored refugee children in Baltimore hoping that he can inspire them. He aspires to one day become a physician so that he can provide care and work with underserved communities, locally and abroad. He enjoys spending his free time learning about other cultures, baking, and breakdancing.


Summer 2015 Short-Term Team Members


Roksana Bialczak

Roksana is currently finishing her Masters degree in International Education at New York University. She has also been working at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for the past four years in both the Infectious Disease and Infection Control departments. Most recently, she has worked as an infection surveillance specialist gathering and analyzing isolate data, which has an impact on both patient care initiatives as well as policy changes. She became interested in global health through her work at the hospital and simultaneous studies of global social, political and economic disparities. She advocates for community empowerment and approaching global health issues through local political and cultural contexts. This summer, she will be working with Global Health Core’s HEAL initiative as their curriculum development intern. She will also be navigating the west coast as a native New Yorker, enjoying the lovely weather.

Isheeta Madeka

Isheeta Madeka is currently an upcoming fourth year Public Health major at UC Berkeley, with an intent to earn her M.S. in Global Health and attend medical school in the near future. Throughout her collegiate career, she has developed a growing interest in the intersection between global health and healthcare education. Her experiences as a Senior Health Educator as part of Peer Health Exchange have allowed her to engage with comprehensive healthcare curriculums and healthcare education in low-resource settings. Her commitment to global health led her to participate in the Big Ideas@Berkeley Competition, where she was awarded 3rd place among 150+ competing teams nationwide on behalf of Emmunify.  Along with Dr. Walsh and a few graduate students at UC Berkeley, Isheeta is currently involved in Emmunify as it attempts to dramatically increase vaccination rates in developing countries via mobile health care technology. She is excited to work as a HEAL Initiative intern this summer and develop her interests in global health among the other student interns and esteemed UCSF faculty!

Linh Nguyen

Linh Nguyen graduated in December 2013 from the University of Maryland with a degree in Business Management and a minor in Asian American Studies. Linh first discovered his interest in medicine during a medical mission to Vietnam in 2010, acting as an interpreter between American physicians and Vietnamese patients. Valuing the ability to care for others with his own hands, to foster meaningful relationships with the people he wanted to help, and to witness his efforts making a tangible difference, Linh changed paths to pursue a career in medicine. Since 2011, Linh has been working for the Viet Nam Medical Assistance Program (VNMAP) to develop and implement health-related projects in the U.S. and Vietnam, most recently, SMASH-B, a hepatitis B education, screening, and vaccination program. In addition to his work in healthcare, Linh loves teaching. During college, Linh tutored, instructed a biology lab, and in 2009, he cofounded a program to educate orphaned youths in Vietnam. Linh hopes to combine his interests in clinical practice, academia, research, and global health in the future as a physician.


Neha Shah

Neha Shah is a rising senior undergraduate student at UC Berkeley, where she is pursuing a B.A. in Public Health with a minor in South Asian Studies. Neha has served as a health educator in under-resourced Bay Area high schools with Peer Health Exchange and has also worked to reduce educational disparities as a volunteer English teacher in Chiang Rai, Thailand with Learning Enterprises. Since then, she has searched for an opportunity to turn her focus to global health. As such, Neha looks forward to this summer, where she will work with the Global Health Core to plan a Complex Humanitarian Emergency training. She hopes her experience with the HEAL Initiative will give her more exposure to global health and prepare her for the fall semester, where she will be doing field work and taking community and public health courses at the University of Botswana in Gaborone.

Steph Wraith

Steph Wraith is a recent graduate from the College of William & Mary with a double major in Biology and Global Health. Her passion for public health has led her to spend the past four years working with a student organization in rural Nicaragua to address issues of community health, as well as spending time researching the role of maternal capacities in childhood diarrheal outcomes. She has experience with global health policy from time spent at USAID, as well as an interest in the social determinants that drive infectious disease patterns from a semester spent examining the health systems of India, Vietnam, and South Africa. Next fall, Steph will be headed to Emory University to pursue an MSPH in Global Epidemiology – this summer, she’s incredibly excited to come on board the HEAL team and assist the Global Health Core.


Summer 2014 Short-Term Team Members



Faisal Ansari

Faisal Ansari is a recent graduate from UC Irvine. He has been working with LifeLong Medical Care through Americorps for the past year serving with a school-based health center in the underserved community of West Berkeley. He has collaborated with local NGOs in India to improve sanitation and provide sustainable light to rural communities as the Director of Project Initiatives for Project RISHI. Faisal will be working with the Global Health Core to expand our fellowship program.

Shunei Asao

Shunei Asao will be graduating from Whitman College in Washington with a degree in biophysics, biochemistry, and molecular biology. Shunei has been involved in global health for several years now through the Friends of Hue Foundation (FHF). With FHF, Shunei has been traveling to a shelter in Vietnam where he helped organize mobile clinics, recruit physician, and draft budgets for medications. Shunei will now be utilizing his experience in cost-benefit analysis experience to improve the Global Health Core’s business model and support various marketing projects.

Jaskirat Bhatia

Jaskirat is currently in his sophomore year at UC Berkeley double majoring in molecular cell biology and economics. Jaskirat’s interest in the business side of healthcare led to a internship at the Celiac Disease Foundation, where he promoted health living for children and worked on payroll and accounting to ensure the most cost effective budgets. Jaskirat’s experience in global health consists of a MEDLIFE medical brigade to Ecuador and now coordinates logistics for sustaining future brigades. This summer, Jaskirat will be contributing to the expansion of the Global Health Core business model and other key marketing projects.

Connie Chan

Connie Chan, originally an economics major at UC Berkeley, has recently discovered her passion in healthcare, and is now double majoring in economics and public health. She was first exposed to medicine through her attendance at a medical-centered high school and her years of interaction with patients at local hospitals. Connie has excellent business management experience from her work in a business organization known as Ascend, where she created several large scale projects. Now, Connie will be working with our team to help build our business model and support various marketing projects to expand the capacity of our core.  She describes herself as an R&B addict and television show marathoner who eats too much Mcdonald's to be majoring in public health.

Brett Lewis

Brett Lewis graduated in May 2014 from UC Berkeley with a degree in public health and minor in anthropology. A former Partners In Health volunteer, Brett’s passion for global health has led her to ventures such as researching pediatric malnutrition in Nepal and conducting an independent study in rural Uttar Pradesh, India. Now, Brett is joining the Global Health Core as a research intern for Dr. Shamsunder’s project, a meta-literature review of social determinants of health in medical education curriculum.

Jose Sandoval

Jose Sandoval is currently majoring in Business Administration at UC Berkeley and also intending to apply to medical school. He has built his own nonprofit organization to help the undocumented achieve higher education. Jose himself is undocumented and now helps the undocumented seek empowerment through lobbying, campaigning and educating community members. Jose has extensive business experience through his work with Deloitte, Morgan Stanley, and Highland Hospital. This summer, Jose will be supporting the global health core by expanding our business model and working of various other marketing projects.


Diana Tran

Diana Tran is a recent graduate from UC Berkeley majoring in Public Health, minoring in Global Poverty and Practice. She has worked with the Special Needs Aquatic Program at Berkeley as a head instructor facilitating a disability health and rights course at UC Berkeley. She has also been involved in research for the Center for Infectious Diseases and Emergency Response as a Research and Data Analyst. Diana has a passion for global health which she displays in her work with Project Vietnam Foundation for which she served as a research assistant to develop need based surveys for the community of Hanoi, Vietnam. Currently, Diana will be working with the Global Health Core to expand our fellowship program.