About Us

Medical Outreach Chapters

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Adam Celikmen, Team Leader

University of Massachusetts Amherst

Greetings, my name is Adam Celikmen and I am a senior Kinesiology major at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I have not made any concrete decisions about my future career or continuing education, but it will more than likely involve healthcare. My interest in Public Health is what attracted me to Volunteers Around the World.

I plan on taking the experiences I have in healthcare now and applying them to wherever I go overseas. I am excited to start the first VAW chapter at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Although the task seems daunting, I am ready for the challenge. I love my dog Abby, that is all you really need to know about me.

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Alan Mallouhi, Team Leader

VAW Boston

Hi! My name is Alan Mallouhi and I am a junior at Boston College. I am currently a Biology and Arabic double major and I am hoping to go to Medical school in order to become an orthopedic surgeon. I am excited to work with VAW because I believe medicine should be about making a world a safer place for everyone, even those who cannot afford it.

Being of Syrian descent I used to take many trips to my country, having frequented a country that cannot quite afford the medical care our country has been blessed with, it made me realize that this is something I want to work to change. Having family in an area of turmoil like Syria gave me the desire to do what I can to help the health of countries that need our help.  I am hoping to be able to lead my first trip during summer 2016.

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Alex Hoatson, Team Leader

University of Nebraska Kearney

Hi my name is Alexandria Hoatson and I am a sophomore at the University of Nebraska at Kearney! I am a pre-nursing major and will be applying to nursing school this fall (2017). This summer I traveled to Guatemala with VAW and fell in love with this program. The experience was unforgettable and I want to get others involved so they can experience it also! I am excited to share my passion of the medical field through this outreach program.

Alyssa Rose, Team Leader

VAW Bronx

Hi! My name is Alyssa Rose and I’m a sophomore at Fordham University. I’m majoring in Anthropology and Humanitarian Studies, and I plan to pursue a Master’s in Global Health eventually.

I’ve spent time volunteering in mobile medical clinics in areas of the Dominican Republic, and my passion for that work is what drew me to VAW. This is my first year working with VAW, but I’m looking forward to establishing it further within the Fordham community in the years to come. I can’t wait to see what our trip this spring break has in store!

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Amber Song, Team Leader

Rice University

Hi! My name is Amber Song, and I am a rising junior at Rice University in Houston, Texas. I am currently majoring in Biological Sciences and hope to attend medical school after graduating.

The Rice University chapter of VAW started two years ago, and I have been fortunate to be an active member on both trips. This past year, we went to Peru, and before that, to Guatemala. I was pleasantly surprised by my experience in each country and can’t wait to see where the group will end up this year!

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Amy Gore, Team Leader

Sacramento State University

Hello everyone! My name is Amy Gore, and I am currently a senior at Sacramento State University. I am in the Nursing program and loving every minute of it! Getting to go the Dominican Republic has ignited in me a passion for medical outreach overseas. It was such a rewarding experience to be able to put into practice everything I have learned from nursing school to help those in need overseas. We can really make a positive difference in improving global health just by volunteering our time, skills, and energy.

In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my nieces, playing with the family dog Luke, hiking, and riding my bike. I am looking forward to leading a new team on another VAW trip!

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Anna Chung, Team Leader

University of Redlands

Hi! My name is Anna Chung and I am a freshman at the University of Redlands. I’m majoring in biology with the hopes of pursuing a career in dentistry and public health in the future. I look forward to making a lasting and meaningful impact in assisting VAW with its mission of improving global health.

Anne Zeng, Team Leader

UC Berkeley

Hi my name is Anne Zeng and I’m going into my third year at UC Berkeley where I study bioengineering with a focus on biomechanics. After graduation, I plan on taking a year or two off to work and/or travel before going to medical school.

I have been with the UC Berkeley chapter of VAW since my second semester freshman year, and it has been an incredible experience working with like-minded people to bring medical services to areas that have a difficult time obtaining these resources otherwise. Plus, I love visiting places all around the world and VAW allows me to travel with a purpose, rather than just being a tourist.
I look forward to another great year being a part of VAW!

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Annie Huet, Team Leader

Vanderbilt University

Hi! My name is Annie! I’m currently a pre-dental student at Vanderbilt University, majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Neuroscience. This is my fourth year working with VAW and I am so excited to help the club grow this year as we spread the message about medical outreach!

Arunima Kapoor, Team Leader

University of Toronto Scarborough

Arunima Kapoor is a student at the University of Toronto Scarborough. She founded VAW Medical Outreach at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

Arush Lal, Team Leader

Georgia Tech

A third year student at Georgia Tech, I am currently pursuing a major in Business Administration while on the premed track. I have had a passion for healthcare and medical assistance for as long as I can remember.

I have also always had an interest in global interaction, and would love for the chance to better understand how countries from all around the world can work together to further progress in the intersections between healthcare, foreign policy, human rights, technology, and education. I am taking classes in foreign policy and public health, because I am looking into a medical career infused with international diplomacy and health access advocacy. I hope to use the skills I gain through VAW to be an effective leader in pushing for health system strengthening around the world, as well as fight for quality universal health coverage. Because of this, I strongly identify with VAW’s mission for medical community service and am thrilled to be a part of this inspiring movement.

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Bhavyata Vaddavalli, Team Leader

Santa Clara University

Hi! My name is Bhavyata Vaddavalli and I’m a freshman at Santa Clara University. I’m majoring in biology and I’m on the pre-med track aspiring to become a surgeon.

I’m super thrilled to establish VAW at Santa Clara this year. I’m passionate about volunteering and I can’t wait to help people across the world through VAW.

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Bindi Patel, Team Leader

Columbia University

Bindi Patel is a student at Columbia University. She is currently working on opening a VAW Medical Outreach chapter at Columbia University. She also founded the Georgia State chapter of Volunteers Around the World in Atlanta in 2013.

Blake Taurone, Team Leader

Utah State University

My name is Blake Taurone, and I am a second year Junior at Utah State University. I am studying Biology with an emphasis in Human Biology and Pre-Medicine

Along with my major, I will complete a minor in Chemistry. My goal for the future is to attend medical school, and eventually pursue a career as a surgeon.

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Brandon Escoto, Team Leader

Sacramento State University

Hi everyone, my name is Brandon Escoto, I am a student at Sacramento State University. Although I am currently unsure of my major, I know it will have something to do with improving peoples lives. From a young age I would asked why things in our world are so unfair, my aunt (a nun) told me a to be nugget of good and with enough nuggets the world could become better. At my last medical outreach in the Dominican Republic I met numerous nuggets. I’m thrilled to be a part of VAW an organization does so much good in this world.

I’m someone who doesn’t like to stand around, and let life pass me by. I enjoy playing sports, going to the gym, and spending time with family and friends. Cant wait for my next Medical Outreach in….

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Brandon Wolvington, Team Leader

Utah State University

My name is Brandon Wolvington and I am currently a Junior at Utah State University. I am majoring in Economics and Finance. When I am not focusing on school I enjoy spending my free time weightlifting, golfing, playing basketball, or spending time outdoors.

I was born and raised in Wyoming and I am excited to be a part of VAW so I can learn more about other cultures, and build relationships and memories that will last a lifetime.

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Bryant Transtrum, Team Leader

Brigham Young University (BYU)

Hello! My name is Bryant Transtrum, I am a junior at Brigham Young University. I am currently pursuing a major in Exercise Science and hope to attend medical school after graduation in 2017.

I am excited for the opportunity to establish and lead a new chapter at BYU and look forward to our first medical outreach trip next summer 2015! I am passionate about medicine and cannot wait for the experience of serving those in need through VAW.

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Calli Lowe, Team Leader

Michigan State University

Hi everyone! I am a junior at Michigan State University studying cognitive neuroscience and hoping to go on to medical school after I graduate. This past school year, I joined our VAW chapter having no idea what to expect, but I can assure you that it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I had no idea how much a few weeks of service could change me.

I hope to organize lots of trips in the next few years to be able to share these experiences with others!! So thankful for this opportunity & I hope that everyone tags along with us as we travel the world!

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Chelsea Shorkey, Team Leader

Lewis University

Hi!  My name is Chelsea!  I am a human resources major at Lewis University.  In my free time, I really enjoy being on the dance team here.  I am so excited to have become involved with VAW, and I can’t wait to help the club grow and to have the opportunity to help others!

Chris Varlamos, Team Leader

University of Michigan

Hello, my name is Chris Varlamos and I am a junior at the University of Michigan majoring in Psychology. I hope to attend Physician Assistant school after I graduate and eventually work in sports medicine and orthopedics. In my free time, I enjoy playing basketball, golfing, reading, and traveling all around the world.

I am really excited to be working with Volunteers Around the World and to be starting a chapter at the University of Michigan! I’m very passionate about volunteering and helping in the medical field so working with VAW is a perfect opportunity.

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Crystal Espinoza, Vice President

UC Irvine

My name is Crystal Espinoza and I am a first-generation college student. I am currently majoring in Biological Sciences as a step towards medical school.

I come from a very family-orientated Mexican-American background. Currently, I enjoy going on various family road trips and spending leisure time with friends, as well as taking long naps and enjoying lots of snacks. I like listening to Disney music and watching Disney movies. I am currently employed on campus as a mentoring program coordinator and a peer educator. As of now, I am still working on balancing my academics, work, and social life in college.

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Crystal Kim, Assistant Team Leader

Vanderbilt University

Hi! My name is Crystal Kim and I am a sophomore at Vamderbilt University. Although I am majoring in Flute Performance, I joined VAW because I have a great interest in improving global health.

Daniyal Qadir, Team Leader

University of Miami

Hello! My name is Daniyal Qadir and I am a Junior at the University of Miami majoring in Biology. I am planning to attend medical school once I graduate to pursue a career as a physician. VAW has just been introduced to the University of Miami but I already expect many students to be as excited as I am to be a part of such a great cause. Being able to not only help those in need but also gain valuable experience working in the medical field is an opportunity that I cannot miss out on.

Even though I just started working with VAW I am really looking forward to traveling for a purpose with students that share my passion for the medical field. My biggest goal I hope to accomplish these upcoming months is getting the word out there and really letting people know what VAW is all about because I know people would be just as eager to sign up for trips as I was. People already have interest in traveling to these cool places and VAW makes it even better.

I was so drawn by VAW because it allows students to be involved in different communities all over the world and gives me the ability to work with so many great people that really do want to make a lasting impact on peoples lives.

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Darren Ramcharan, Team Leader

Western University

Hi! My name is Darren Ramcharan and I am pursuing BSc in Biology and Genetics at Western University, I hope to further my education in medical school after my undergrad. I am excited to work with VAW to bring the world one step closer to better living and better health.

David Polman, Team Leader

Villanova University

Hello, my name is David Polman. I am a rising Senior Pre-Medical, Biology Major at Villanova University pursuing minors in Business and Finance.

I recently led a group of Villanova students to Guatemala on a Medical Outreach Trip. I have found that VAW provided me with the opportunity to expand my medical experiences while fulfilling my philanthropic desires. I look forward to my next opportunity to work with the staff at VAW, to lead a new group of students and to further VAW’s presence on the campus of Villanova University.

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Destiny Bender, Team Leader

Univeristy at Albany, SUNY

Hey, my name is Destiny A. Bender and I am a senior at the university at Albany majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry. I hope to attend medical school and becoming an OB/GYN.

I’ve had a great opportunity of volunteering in mobile clinics in Peru and got a better understanding in the health issues many people face. This has just fueled my passion for medicine even more and VAW gives me a great opportunity to do so. I look forward to a great year with VAW!

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Dev Patel, Team Leader

University of Texas at Dallas

Hello! My name is Dev Patel and I am a sophomore at the University of Texas at Dallas. I am double majoring in Biology and Healthcare Studies with the goal of going to medical school. I am very excited to be part of UT Dallas’ first medical team!

We are currently planning our first trip for the summer of 2016, and I couldn’t be more excited. I look forward to the opportunity to make a difference and learn more about medicine along the way!

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Elisabeth Caldwell, Team Leader

University of South Carolina

Hello, my name is Elisabeth Caldwell. I am a rising senior at the University of South Carolina, majoring in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. I hope to attend Medical school after graduation to become a surgeon.

My first trip with VAW was to Peru with Villanova University, and I cannot wait to start a chapter at the University of South Carolina. I am also looking forward to seeing what the next trips have in store, as well as making a difference and improving the lives of those in need, while learning more about medicine and other cultures.

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Elizabeth Begg, Team Leader

San Diego State University

Hi! My name is Elizabeth (Eli) Begg and I am a senior at San Diego State University studying Public Health and Sociology. I believe that we have the power to create the world we live in, just as we want it. I want to be the change in the world I want to see.

As an inspiring physician, I not only want to bring medical services and resources to those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged in our local communities, but in socioeconomically disadvantaged and war-torn countries. I would like to work in a hospital, but also be involved in a NPO or NGO and volunteer my medical services internationally.

At home, wherever that may be, I would like to use my public health education to set up community health and education centers that can be a bridge between medical knowledge and patient care. By opening up the first Volunteers Around the World chapter at SDSU, I along with like-minded students will be able to begin our journey to change the world into a better, healthier and safer global community.

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Elly Lilagan, Team Leader

UC Irvine

Hello! My name is Elly Lilagan and I’m the team leader for the UC Irvine chapter of VAW. I am a pre-med third year student majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. I hope to pursue medicine after graduation.

Erin Martin, Team Leader

Virginia Tech

Hi! My name is Erin Martin and I am a junior at Virginia Tech majoring in Microbiology. I am working towards going to Physician Assistant Graduate School with the goal to eventually work as a Sports Medicine PA or an Orthopedic PA.

I am so very excited to have the privilege to work with VAW and being able to make a difference in the world.

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Greta Schneider, Team Leader

VAW Bronx

Hi! My name is Greta Schneider and I am senior at Fordham University. I’m majoring in International Political Economy and minoring in Biology. I hope pursue my Masters in Public Health within the next few years after graduation!

Hadley Leatherman, Team Leader

University of Southern California (USC)

Hi! My name is Hadley Leatherman and I am a Senior at the University of Southern California. I am a pre-med student majoring in Psychology. I hope to become an orthopedic surgeon and I plan to continue my education next year at either Harvard, Johns Hopkins, or Columbia.

I travelled to Cusco, Peru through VAW last winter break and encountered the most practical and hands-on medical experience I’ve ever had as an undergraduate student. I also thoroughly enjoyed exploring the country and meeting other like-minded students. I am a strong advocate of pre-med students gaining exposure to medicine abroad and am very excited to recruit an energetic, curious, and adventurous group of students to travel to Cambodia next winter break!

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Jaina Chu, Team Leader

Brandeis University

My name is Jaina Chu. I am currently a sophomore at Brandeis University on the pre-med track majoring in Health: Science, Society, and Policy while also minoring in Hispanic Studies.

My future academic plans include acquiring an MPH in epidemiology and an MD. In the future, I plan to work in impoverished communities to provide good quality of health.

I became interested in VAW because of its focus on medical and dental outreach and this year I joined the Brandeis VAW. I am excited to bring the club presence onto campus and be able to engage with other communities. I look forward to establishing a strong volunteering presence not only in impoverished countries but also in the Waltham community.

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Jelissa Washington, Team Leader

Hampton University

Hello, my name is Jelissa Washington and I am a Biochemistry major with a minor in Nanoscience. The reason why I decided to start a chapter at Hampton was due to the fact that I am extremely passionate about global health.

 I searched for days trying to find an organization that allowed me to make a difference in the world, and then I found V.A.W. V.A.W is an organization that has Panama as one of their program sites and being part Panamanian I knew it was the first place I wanted to help. This is part of the reason why our first trip in 2016 will be to Panama. I look forward to future trips with the organization and hope to make the biggest difference around the world as I possibly can.
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Jennifer Rutishauser, Co-Team Leader

VAW Bronx

Hello! My name is Jennifer Rutishauser and I am a junior at Fordham University. I’m majoring in Biology and History with the goal of going on to medical school and eventually becoming some kind of pediatric doctor.

My team’s VAW trip to Guatemala in the spring was an incredible experience that opened my eyes to the healthcare system of another country and confirmed my desire to pursue medicine. I am so excited to get ready for my next medical outreach adventure, and I look forward to my first experience as a team leader!

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Joey Llewellyn, Team Leader

UC Davis

Hi! My name is Joey Llewellyn and I am currently a sophomore majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UC Davis. After graduating, I plan on attending medical school in hopes of becoming a surgical oncologist.

Although I have only been with the UC Davis chapter of VAW since my spring quarter freshman year, it has been such an incredible and memorable experience thus far. After only attending one medical outreach to Panama with VAW, I am totally addicted to “volunteering my time” and “donating my energy” towards offering medical necessities to those in need of it. Also, I love to visit new countries while immersing myself in their culture and VAW allows me to do so while having a meaningful purpose. Outside of VAW, I love to participate in various sports such as triathlon and skiing, playing the piano, research, and watching anime. I look forward to working and having fun with this year’s VAW crew!

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Joey Wong, Team Leader

UC Santa Cruz

Hi! My name is Joey Wong and I am a first year at the University of California, Santa Cruz with a proposed major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. I am very excited to start this chapter at my school and to meet and work with people who have the same interest in the health field as I do. I am looking forward to the opportunities and the experiences VAW will provide me with.

Kajal Patel, Team Leader

University of Georgia

Hey! My name is Kajal Patel and I am a senior at the University of Georgia! I am a pre-med student majoring in International Affairs. After becoming a physician, I plan on traveling the world and helping people in underserved countries that don’t have access to or can’t afford proper healthcare in organizations just like VAW!

I have always been interested by how aspects such as healthcare and foreign policies are so distinct around the world and how other countries and individuals can come together to make a change. Through Volunteers Around the World, I’m looking forward to getting more involved with global health issues and making a difference in a region of the world that needs it. It is so exciting to see extraordinary organizations like VAW growing and expanding and I am thrilled to be a part of it!

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Kannan Aravagiri, Team Leader

University of Washington

I am a Masters student studying chemical engineering at University of Washington, Seattle focusing my research on the optimization of solid binding peptides for protein purification. I did my undergraduate studies in chemical and biochemical engineering at University of California, Davis. I am a fan of hiking, beer, and movies, which have ultimately led to my successes and failures depending on your perspective.

Right now, I am starting the UW chapter of Volunteers around the World, and I hope to bring in as many interested participants to join the experience so many current volunteers have had. I hope to have many new experiences working as a volunteer and hope to pass that along to the next generation once I graduate.

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Katelyn Hagstrom, Team Leader

Ohio State University

Hi! My name is Katelyn Hagstrom and I am a third-year pre-medical student at Ohio State majoring in microbiology and molecular genetics with a minor in neuroscience. I hope to attend medical school after I graduate and become an emergency medicine physician. I have a passion for medicine, traveling, and helping our global community.

My experiences and the people I have met during my trips to Peru and Guatemala with VAW have broadened my horizons and changed my outlook on life. These trips have affirmed my desire to pursue a medical career and have made me feel more connected to the world around me. I am excited to take part in continuing this organization at Ohio State!

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Kylie Adamec, Team Leader

VAW Chicago

Hello all! My name is Kylie and I am a sophomore at Loyola University Chicago studying biochemistry and theology. I currently have a large span of interests for the future including pursuing pre-med or becoming a secondary education teacher of science. My ultimate goal however is to inspire others to follow their passions such as I have.

Growing up in a small town in Wisconsin, I always knew I wanted to be a part of something larger in our world a make a difference in the lives of others. Having the opportunity to work with VAW has allowed me to do this and so much more than I every could have imagined. Since becoming a part of the Chicago chapter’s Albania Medical Outreach in 2015, not only has my education of the medical field expanded, but it also gives me the inspiration every day to keep pushing through all of the difficult times in my life. VAW has given me a new outlook on life that makes the difficult track of medicine worth it.

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Jack Melhorn, Team Leader

Loughborough University

Hello! My name is Jack Melhorn and I currently the Team Leader for VAW’s first European chapter! I am currently studying Human Geography and Economics at Loughborough University in the UK. I’m most excited to get involved with VAW because my number one passion in life has always been traveling with a purpose.

I had an extremely international background, living in six different countries before I was ten years old. However, joining an organisation like VAW allows you to travel, and help the world at the same time. It’s a win-win situation like no other! I could not be more excited to get our new chapter up and running!

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Jaren Williams, Team Leader

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

My name is Jaren Williams and I am currently a junior at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. I am a Biology major and I aspire to become an Anesthesiologist. I am extremely passionate about global health and impacting the lives of others!


Jessica Hasteadt, Team Leader

Coastal Carolina University

Hi! I’m Jessica, I’m a junior at Coastal Carolina in Jacksonville , NC. I also attended East Carolina University for two years. I’m studying nursing and hoping to do emergency medicine or pediatric oncology. I’m so excited to travel, see the world, and go out of my comfort zone. I’m looking forward to making a difference and volunteering my time and energy to improve the lives of others.

Joseph Lurtsema, Team Leader

VAW Alaska (AKVAW)

Hello friends! My name is Joseph Lurtsema! I’m Team Leader of Alaska’s chapter of Volunteers Around the World. I’m a Health Sciences major who will be seeking his MBA after undergrads. I’m interested in learning about the socioeconomic challenges facing the many communities with which VAW works. I like to consider myself a creator. I enjoy creating events, business plans, teams, fundraisers, and other productive activities to challenge myself, and others, to accomplish such feats.

I enjoy working hard, especially when there are people from all over the world who need help. I’m looking forward to the future of VAW, as I believe it’s going to be a bright one for the organization, students, and every person we touch with our aid & development. Let’s go!!!

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Josh Hampton, Team Leader

California State University, East Bay (CSUEB)

Hello world! My name is Josh Hampton. I’m currently pursuing a post bach In Pre-medical sciences at California State University East Bay. I am originally from Miami, FL and did most of my nursing undergraduate studies there. I currently work part time as a Registered Nurse while I pursue a career in Medicine.

VAW gives me the opportunity to remove barriers that limit the potential of others to become all that they are capable of becoming, maximizing the level of fulfillment they feel in their lives, as well as the chance that the contributions that many will make in their lives will help improve the lot of others, giving them a chance to inspire and make the world a better place for subsequent generations.

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Kelsey West, Team Leader

VAW Alaska (AKVAW)

Bonjour! I’m an aspiring doctor with interests in disaster response, refugees, and teaching. My journey with VAW started with Guatemala in 2013. I’ve returned to lead more Alaskan students to help disadvantaged populations and gain insight into global health.

I seek experiences that challenge me, like working in the ER, local community service leadership, backpacking in Morocco, and learning French and Spanish. VAW remains my most inspirational experience. In the future, I hope to work with teaching hospitals and organizations like the International Medical Corps, CDC Epidemiological Intelligence Service, or United Nations.

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Kristen Cuadra, Team Leader

University of Florida

Hi! My name is Kristen Cuadra and I am a junior at the University of Florida. I am majoring in Health Science and I hope to pursue a career in emergency medicine. I am excited to see the VAW grow at UF and I am eager to work with students who find medical outreach as important as I do.

Lee Brackman, Team Leader

Catawba College

I was born in Athens, Georgia and I attended private catholic School from kindergarten through twelfth grade. I played several sports in high school and eventually chose to play football in college. I attend Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina with hopes of attending medical school after graduation. I have been on mission trips to Haiti before and I believe it is somewhat of a calling for me. Im excited to be a part of the VAW team!

Lindihana Gorenca, Team Leader

Lewis University

Hi everyone! My name is Lindihana Gorenca. I am a sophomore nursing student at Lewis University. My dream has always been to travel the world and provide medical care to those in need, and being involved with VAW has provided me with this opportunity. I’m excited about my teams journey to improve global health!

Madeleine Rackers, Team Leader

Western Washington University

Hello! My name is Madeleine Rackers and I am a sophomore at Western Washington University. I am a Biology/Anthropology combined major, and I hope to go to medical school once I graduate.

Mandy Che, Team Leader

UC San Diego

My name is Mandy Che and I am currently a sophomore at UC San Diego. I am a Physiology and Neuroscience major, premed, and hoping to enter the field of pediatrics in the near future. Our VAW chapter at UCSD was recently established last year and I was so lucky to be able to attend the medical outreach trip to the Dominican Republic last summer.

I really love traveling and in addition to my interest in the healthcare field, being able to go to a foreign country to serve rural communities was just an eye opening experience. I am very excited to plan another trip with other like-minded peers from my school, and just have the same or even more rewarding experience this year!

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Manny Estrada, Team Leader

Rice University

Hi, my name is Manny Estrada and I am a rising sophomore at Rice University! I am a Biochemistry and Cell Biology major with aspirations to become a physician/scientist, specifically in the oncology field. I have such a passion for learning about global health and serving all of humanity. I am excited to be a part of the VAW team and I am very eager to make an impact!

I went on my first VAW trip to Peru this past summer. I can honestly say that those two weeks included some of the best experiences of my life. Because I was born and raised in Guatemala, I can relate to the injustices and impoverishment that too many Latin American countries fall victim to. I hope and know that serving on the VAW team will be a great outlet for me in regards to giving back to my Latin American community, or any community that is in desperate need of attention.

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Marina Zhang, Team Leader

University of Sydney

My name is Marina Zhang and I am in my second year at the University of Sydney. I am currently completing a double major in immunobiology and neuroscience. I have a strong interest in the development of healthcare throughout the world, and plan to pursue a career in medicine in the future.

Marla Cole, Team Leader

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Hey ya’ll! My name is Marla Cole and I’m a senior at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock studying Biology and Philosophy looking to go into Public Health with a focus on holistic wellness. I’m starting the first VAW chapter in my state and I’m very excited to spread awareness about this wonderful organization.

Improving the lives of others is something I’m very passionate about especially in relation to global health and relief aid. I enjoy working in my community to help everyday people identify the root causes of health challenges, provide education, and to find solutions for overcoming those challenges. I’m looking forward to an amazing internship to share my passion with the less fortunate!

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Minnie Choi, Co-Team Leader

New York University

Hello! My name is Minnie Choi, a current sophomore at New York University. I’m majoring in psych/pre-med with hopes to become a pediatrician. I’ve always had a strong interest in volunteering and spent a lot time working with the mentally disabled, in music therapy, and at hospitals.

During my spare time I enjoy doing arts and crafts, swimming, and generally just learning more about the world that I live in. I personally feel that it is important to take part in global health by helping the less fortunate. I plan on continuing to volunteer throughout my medical career.

This is, by far, one of the most exciting things I have ever been a part of and will work hard to help guide this team.

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Muzammil Syed, Team Leader

McMaster University

Hey all! My name is Muzammil Syed, and I am a second year Honours Life Sciences student at McMaster University. Born and bred up in Saudi Arabia, it was quite the transition to Canada! I love volunteering, travelling, martial arts, and constantly trying to push myself out of my comfort zone. I am also a voracious reader with interests in a gamut of subjects. I hope one day to make it to medical school once I’ve graduated, as I’m very passionate about helping people and I think helping people recuperate their health is the paragon of helping people. 

I’m absolutely enthralled to be part of the Volunteers Around the World family! Everyone’s been super amazing and I couldn’t be more proud to help with the expansion of this amazing cause. In my humble opinion, and I think I can speak on behalf of most people, that VAW truly coalesces philanthropy with unforgettable, amazing experiences. I envision great things, and I cannot wait to see what’s in store not only for my team and I, but also to witness the global expansion of VAW! 

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Myla Duane, Team Leader

UC Riverside

Hi! My name is Myla and I am a Junior at the University of California Riverside. I am majoring in Sociology and am in the progress of picking up Education as a minor. I love working with organizations that help to make a lasting impact in other countries.

I have volunteered in places such as Nicaragua and Indonesia and I am so exited to have an opportunity to volunteer with VAW so that we can emphasize the importance of global health!

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Nicole Alimena, Team Leader

Cornell University

My name is Nicole Alimena, and I am currently a freshman at Cornell University. I am majoring in Biological Engineering with a focus on Biomedicine and Genomics. I plan to pursue veterinary medicine; specifically, I hope to be a veterinary surgeon at an international level.

I am very excited to work with VAW because I feel that collaborative health assistance across countries is crucial; helping other nations, particularly those disadvantaged and lacking crucial resources to provide the best medical care, helps improve the standard of living for everyone and thus overall public health. I currently travel internationally to assist veterinarians; I have been able to experience how much both the animals and people need medical assistance in areas such as Peru or the Dominican Republic. I am working to expand VAW at Cornell and cannot wait for our next VAW trip this year!

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Nicole Aucoin, Team Leader

University of Rhode Island

My name is Nicole Aucoin, I am from Wilmington, MA and a junior at the University of Rhode Island. I am studying nutrition and dietetics, hoping to become a Registered Dietitian someday. At school, I am involved in Greek Life, Nutrition club and VAW. I love to be involved and I am so happy to hold the Vice President position in VAW here at URI.

I joined this club knowing I would be able to help make a difference in other people’s lives.  On our next trip, I am excited to share my knowledge of nutrition and healthy living with those who are not able to receive the education that I am lucky enough to have.  I have met so many amazing people and have learned a lot through VAW and I can’t wait to see what the upcoming semester brings.

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Nirali Patel, Team Leader

University of Mississippi

Hey guys! My name is Nirali Patel and I am currently a junior at the University of Mississippi. I am majoring in Biology and plan to become a pediatric dental surgeon. I have always had a strong interest in helping others and medicine. After becoming a practicing physician, I plan on traveling around the world to provide medical care for children who are underprivileged.

I am ecstatic to carry on my passion through Volunteers Around the World by volunteering in countries where medical work is needed. Becoming a part of such an amazing organization and being able to establish a chapter within my peers on campus is a humbling feeling. This will be my first year working with VAW and I cannot wait for the experiences and knowledge that will come on the trips!

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Nirali Patel, Team Leader

University of Rhode Island

Hello, my name is Nirali Patel and I am majoring in Political Science and Economics at the University of Rhode Island. I hope to pursue a career that will make a difference in global health in the future.

My parents have always emphasized the importance of volunteering and going into college I knew I wanted to join a philanthropic organization. Mixing volunteering with my passion for travelling I knew VAW would be the perfect opportunity for me to help others. Joining VAW has allowed me to not only make a difference globally but also within my community by educating others on healthcare standards in impoverished countries.  I am very excited to be planning URI’s first trip to Albania as a team leader!

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Okeemah Nicolini, Team Leader

Missouri State University

My name is Okeemah Nicolini and I am a junior at Missouri State University. I am currently pursing a degree in Biology with a double minor in Chemistry and Psychology.

I am an aspiring pediatric oncologist at St. Jude Children’s Hospital! My number one passion in life is to better the lives of people around me.

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Ravina Kumar, Team Leader

VAW Long Island

Hi there! My name is Ravina Kumar and I’m currently a junior studying Biology at Hofstra University in efforts to pursue a career in medicine. It was an honor to join VAW’s medical chapter in fall 2015 and the team on their journey to Panama in winter 2016.

As a high school student, I was actively involved in Model United Nations and have delegated in committees such as the World Health Organization and UNICEF. This early exposure, along with my strong interest in the sciences, inspired me to learn more about global health and issues that concern the quality of life of people living in developing countries.

In such a short amount of time, VAW has given me countless opportunities to learn so much about medicine, global health, and myself. I truly believe it’s the little things that make big things happen. The amount of memories and lessons I have taken away from my amazing experience in Panama will resonate with me forever. As team leader, I hope I can expand the VAW medical chapter to other schools throughout Long Island and share this experience with an amazing team for the upcoming year.

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Roman Sanchez-Martinez, Team Leader

UT Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV)

Hello my name is Roman Sanchez-Martinez! I am currently a sophomore attending the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley as a biomedical science major with an emphasis in genetic and molecular basis of chronic diseases and with a minor in biological science. Working with Volunteers Around the World is a brand new experience for me and I am really excited to take on the challenge to travel to third world countries in order to provide medical support to those in need.

Being a Mexican, I have lived through difficult situations due to limited resources therefore I am determined to give back to those who are currently living through harsh conditions. I am thrilled to work with this organization, and what it holds for the future!

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Sabrina Ahmed, Team Leader

University of Texas at Dallas

Hi! My name is Sabrina Ahmed and I’m currently a sophomore at UT Dallas. I’m on the pre-med track, majoring in Healthcare Studies and hoping to one day become a pediatrician. We are currently planning our first trip as a chapter for Summer 2016! I am excited to give back to those in need while doing something I love!

Sami Kubota, Team Leader

University of San Francisco

Hi everyone! My name is Sami Kubota and I am currently a sophomore at the University of San Francisco majoring in nursing. Following graduation, I hope to work as an emergency medicine nurse and the dream after that is to work with an NPO or NGO to provide medical care to less fortunate countries.

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to establish a chapter at USF and form a group of like-minded individuals. I look forward to making many memories and a meaningful impact with VAW!

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Shrenik Gadagkar, Team Leader

University of Pittsburgh

Hi! My name is Shrenik Gadagkar and I am a junior at the University of Pittsburgh! I am a pre-med student majoring in Psychology with a certificate in Conceptual Foundations of Medicine. After graduation, I plan on getting my Masters in Public Health before attending medical school to become an Emergency Medicine doctor.

I’ve always had the dream of fusing my healthcare and study abroad interests together and with the help of VAW, I can not only achieve that for myself but also for students at Pitt. I’m starting this VAW chapter to show everyone what a great organization this is and with the hope that students, for years to come, will get to travel and be a part of this life-changing experience!

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Simeon Gboun, Team Leader

Creighton University

My name is Simeon and I am third year student and I am majoring in EMS, in the premed track. I am very excited to bring VAW to my university; I am sure this experience will greatly benefit my career goals in life.

Steven Gerry, Team Leader

University of Southern California (USC)

Ciao. My name is Steven Gerry and I am a junior pre-medical student at the University of Southern California.  I am majoring in Neuroscience with a double minor in Spanish and Entrepreneurship.

I am very excited to take over as our chapter’s new team leader, and am hopeful to plan very successful trips to both Peru and Thailand in the following year.  I have organized and taken part in similar volunteer trips to both Guatemala and to Nicaragua in the past, and I have seen the impact that a short visit can make with the right equipment and a motivated team.

As someone with a great interest in medicine, travel, and the study of different languages; I could not ask for a better program to facilitate the fusion of the three.

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Susan Chow, Team Leader

New York University

Hey everyone! My name is Susan Chow, and I am sophomore at New York University intending to major in neural science with a minor in sociology. I am super honored and excited to be a part of NYU’s first medical chapter of Volunteers Around the World!

I am passionate about volunteering, and I strongly believe that everyone can do their part to make a difference in the world. VAW offers an incredible experience for us as students because it allows us to not only travel abroad but also to help out under-served countries.
This upcoming January in 2016, NYU’s medical chapter is planning our first mission trip to Guatemala. All of the current volunteers are thrilled to get started and we’re in the process of fundraising and finishing up recruitment. After our first trip, I can’t wait to plan more trips as well as expanding this chapter and establish a strong foundation for future successive teams at NYU.

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Tenesha Boyd, Team Leader

Rutger's University

Hi Everyone! my name is Tenesha! I am currently attending Rutger’s University pursuing a Masters of Science in Biomedical Sciences. I plan on attending medical school in the near future. I am very excited to start a VAW chapter in my school and work with others to contribute to global health. Volunteering, traveling and medicine are my passions and I look forward to recruit others who also have similar interests towards medical outreach.

Mrs. Tinnikka A. Robertson-Jones, Faculty Team Leader

Hampton University

Hello, my name is Tinnikka A. Robertson-Jones, I currently serve as Assistant Professor at Hampton University in the School of Nursing. I have close to 15 years of experience in the healthcare field with a focus on acute/critical care, clinical practice, community health, education and research. I am Board Certified as an Adult Health Clinical Nurse Specialist. I continuously seek opportunities to serve. I love people, diversity and culture and helping anyone in need. It is rewarding to immerse in the culture of the communities VAW serves.

I regularly serve locally by volunteering with community outreach programs; providing screening and education on health promotion and disease prevention. I have a personal interest and commitment towards underrepresented populations and health disparities; understanding that many chronic illnesses are inevitable, however if education, preventative health care and screening can lessen the prevalence, morbidity and mortality of vulnerable populations, it is a noteworthy cause.

I had the pleasure of being a VAW Faculty Team Leader for a Hampton University team in the May 2017 to Guatemala and it was a life-changing experience for me that I didn’t want to end. I am so thankful to VAW for the global impact they are having and I am truly honored and thankful to continue support their mission and vision. I look forward to ongoing opportunities to serve and support the invaluable efforts and impact VAW continues to have on the world.

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Yasmine Payne, Team Leader

VAW Chicago

My name is Yasmine Payne. I am currently a junior at Loyola University Chicago with a major in biochemistry and a minor in Spanish. I was born and raised in Santa Rosa, California. I am fortunate enough to have gone on two VAW trips to Peru and Panama, both of which were some of the best experiences of my life. I am excited to be currently planning the Winter 2017 trip to Peru! In my free time, I love to exercise, read, and hang out with my family and friends.


August 30, 2016

A few months back we caught up with one of our veteran Team Leaders and Chapter Presidents Arush Lal. Arush is a Business Major on…

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