As Andrea Alfonsi begins medical school, she is looking forward to continuing her work with underrepresented populations by engaging and supporting refugee and underserved communities in Buffalo and Western New York. Alfonsi has extensive experience working with underserved populations. Specifically, she has examined social determinants of health among Venezuelans related to the sociopolitical events that have occurred in their recent history. These events have contributed to poor mental health outcomes for the general Venezuelan population and other particularly vulnerable sub-populations. Alfonsi is keen to push for the further inclusion and success of displaced health professionals who look to establish themselves as credible experts in their new homes.
Santa Anigo’s commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion is evident in her continuous support for individuals facing health disparities. Anigo has worked with individuals afflicted by chronic substance abuse — in addition to working with many others facing homelessness, incarceration and deportation. Anigo is passionate about forming and organizing grass roots communities to maximize well-being and minimize the consequences of health disparities experienced by people in these communities.
Kiana Saade’s commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion is a passion reflected in her commitments to mentoring undergraduate trainees and to helping the refugee community, particularly the children. This is Saade’s way to give back, as at the age of 10 she was also displaced from her native home of Lebanon during war times. Saade has returned to Lebanon as a volunteer with the international organization Caritas to provide health care to children displaced by the Syrian war.
A native of Niagara Falls, Jalisa Kelly’s commitment to diversity has been apparent through her many pursuits over the years — whether it be in her encounters with patients from various backgrounds or her involvement on campus. Kelly has shown herself to be admirably open-minded and has exemplary levels of understanding and empathy. She is an active volunteer in her community, where she assists in various community health fairs, educating minority communities about the risks of diabetes and heart disease. In her personal statement, she declared that she would like to be a voice for the underrepresented. She aims to give hope to minority communities that the profession of medicine is evolving and — to use her words — “becoming just as colorful and diverse as our nation.”
Farzana Ali has overcome great adversity since her family immigrated to the United States from Bangladesh. She is fluent in five languages, has achieved outstanding success in scholarly pursuits, and she seeks to inspire others to overcome their own struggles. Ali actively participates in projects designed to spread awareness — especially among health care students — about spinal cord injury and disability experience. She has also worked to educate diverse populations about disability rights and accommodations.
Brienne Ryan faced and overcame great adversity in her home and family life growing up due to poverty and the ripple effects of mental illness. She has a unique perspective on community-based medicine concerning individuals from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds and the social dynamics that influence an individual’s access and willingness to pursue adequate health care.
Through her work in rural areas, Ariel Engelman saw firsthand how socioeconomic factors play into health care, affecting both access to care as well as patient and family interactions with the system. Through a public health program she co-founded, Engelman has already worked to prevent drug overdoses and help save lives.
Throughout her life Michelle Dick has pursued opportunities to educate others about diversity, using her multiethnic background and a birth defect as teaching tools. Her experiences and personal identity quest have enriched her life and given her the skills to work with people from a variety of different backgrounds.