CIAO Members



Kristie Chang, M4
Missy Edwards, M3

Chris Wright, M2

Eric Sollenberger, M4

Community Outreach
Polina Varava M4, Andrew Moore M3, Scott Ward M2

International Trip Planning
Stefan Czestochowski M4, Sarah Kortebein M3, Whitney Zingg M3, Leila Appel M2


Susan Brewer 
O: (901)448-5684



Kristie Chang

Kristie comes to Memphis all the way from Nashville, TN, where she completed her undergraduate career at Vanderbilt. While at Vanderbilt, she was very interested in local area outreach projects, as well as traveling abroad. She completed a semester abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina. CIAO was the perfect fit for her interests so she became involved during her M1 year. She has recently returned from an international elective in Manila, Philippines, and she plans to travel through Central America in April and May 2016 to learn medical Spanish.

Stefan Czestochowski

Stefan was born and raised in Cedar Rapids Iowa and moved to Memphis to attend high school. At the University of Richmond Stefan was part of the Bonnar Scholar program that was involved in teaching music lessons in areas of Richmond Virginia whose schools had discontinued their music programs.  Later in college he was part of a team that researched and ultimately created an NPR documentary about the various style of music in Cuba entitled “Cuba: Rhythm in Motion.”  He traveled to Honduras as a part of Global Medical Brigades in 2009, which was tasked to serve communities around Tegucigalpa.  Stefan volunteered from 2008 – 2011 at Northwestern Children’s Hospital in Chicago in the child life department.   He was able to work in San Miguel de Allende and Chiapas Mexico on several occasions throughout medical school with the PACE organization. Stefan was elected to the Council on International and Area Outreach in 2011 and hopes to continue his service to both local and international aid.  

Logan Adams

Logan was born and raised in Franklin, TN. He attended David Lipscomb University and graduated with a degree in mathematics in 2011. His love for international service began twenty years ago when he traveled to Rancho Los Amigos, an orphanage in Juarez, Mexico. Logan still makes trips to the orphanage at least once a year. During college, Logan actively served at local children’s clubs and was also involved with a prison inmate outreach. Shortly after graduation, he served on a medical mission trip to Lucyana, Peru. As a member of CIAO, Logan hopes to emphasize the need of medical students and physicians in both local and international service.

Polina Zmijewski

Polina is a native of Odessa, Ukraine, and immigrated to the United States in 1993. She graduated from Barnard College in 2010 and later pursued a Master's degree in Anthropology from Columbia University. Her thesis was titled “Ukraine in the Wake of the Vanished Empire: Women and the HIV/AIDS crisis.” She speaks fluent Russian and spends her free time improving her Spanish language skills. She hopes to incorporate local and international outreach efforts into her residency training as well as in her eventual practice as a general surgeon. 

Natalie Best

Natalie Best grew up in a large family in the small town of McMinnville, TN. She loves traveling around the world to serve those in need and to learn about peoples and cultures. She has volunteered on medical outreach trips to India and Kenya. She completed a global surgery elective in Kapsowar, Kenya in June of 2015 and will participate in a global health rotation in Israel and Palestine in April of 2016. She is also very passionate about getting people connected with volunteer opportunities and spearheaded our yearly volunteer organization fair. 


Missy Edwards

Missy is from Memphis, but has lived in several places in the US, including northern Indiana and west Texas. She completed her undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. While there, she participated in local outreach groups for the homeless and spent a summer in Belize doing medical missions. She traveled to Tanzania during the summer between her M1 and M2 year to work alongside a local doctor and help teach English at a local school. CIAO appealed to her desire to help underserved populations both in the Memphis area and abroad by sending and equipping students to help alongside existing organizations that are meeting the needs of these populations.

Sarah Kortebein

Sarah grew up in Knoxville, TN and went to undergrad at DePauw University in Indiana. After college she served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in Boulder, CO. She has always tried to be involved in volunteer opportunities in the cities she’s lived in, as she thinks it’s an important way to be part of the community.  She has always had a love for travel and seeing new places, but her interest in global health started during a trip to Ecuador during college.  She was lucky enough to receive an award from CIAO during her M1-M2 summer to help fund a trip to Johannesburg, SA where she worked with an organization doing clinical research on more economic ways to screen for and treat cervical cancer.  She has loved working with CIAO and helping students go on their own international adventures to learn more about global health and different cultures around the world.  

Andrew Moore

Andrew Moore is a native South Fulton, TN, and attended the University of Tennessee at Martin where he graduated as a University Scholar with degrees in piano performance and chemistry. Throughout his undergraduate education, Andrew was involved in numerous community service projects and frequently gave musical performances at benefit dinners for outreach organizations, including the World Cataracts Foundation in 2010. Andrew has a passion for travel and has visited over 20 countries since 2003. After returning from a two-week medical mission in Ghana in 2012, he worked to establish a non-profit organization that would provide medical supplies and assistance for underserved medical facilities abroad. Andrew joined CIAO because of the organization’s dedication to providing services for the underserved of the Memphis area.

Stephen Juel

Originally from Memphis, Stephen attended Rhodes College from 2006-2010 where he majored in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with a minor in International Studies. While at Rhodes, Stephen was a Bonner Scholar, an innovative and pioneering program for scholarship and community service, and working with several nonprofits, performed over 1,400 hours of community service. Looking for a way to combine his passions of service and travel, during the summer of 2009 he spent 3 months working in New Zealand and Costa Rica. Over the past 3 years he has spent each of his summers in Brasil performing clinical research and working in multiple hospitals, including the University of São Paulo and the Instituto de Medicina Integral Prof. Fernando Figueira in Recife. With a mission statement similar to that of the Bonner Program, Stephen joined CIAO to continue the work he did in college and to provide other students with the means necessary to pursue medical/service opportunities in Memphis and abroad.

Eric Sollenberger

Eric was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. While attending the University of Colorado, he taught English and snowboarding to first generation Mexican-American children. He graduated from University of Tennessee with a degree in Economics and in Logistics and Supply Chain Management. While at UT, he was an active member of SAA, a group with various alumni and community outreach events. From 2007-2012, he also volunteered at the Love Kitchen by cooking, packaging, and delivering meals to homebound individuals. He has helped rebuild homes of hurricane victims in the Abaco Islands and is excited to continue incorporating traveling with volunteer work. He has also traveled to less developed nations like South Africa, Botswana, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Nepal and seen the great healthcare needs of the people of those countries. He joined the CIAO board in 2012 and is excited to be a part of an organization that supports the outreach efforts of others. 

Whitney Zingg

Whitney grew up in Knoxville, TN and graduated from Maryville College in 2011 with a degree in Biochemistry. In undergrad she had the opportunity to spend 3 weeks traveling in Southern India. It was this trip that really inspired her love for travel and need for culture. She spent time before starting medical school traveling through Italy and living in South Africa. It wasn’t until Medical School that she was really able to combine her love of medicine with her love of travel. With the help of CIAO, she spent time in Macedonia working with a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon helping to heal the hearts of little ones. She joined CIAO with the hope of providing service opportunities for students to pursue both here at home and abroad.

Rebecca Teague

Rebecca was born in Tunduru, Tanzania but calls Niceville, Florida home. She spent eight years in the great state of Kentucky before coming to Memphis. While in Kentucky, she received her undergraduate degrees in vocal performance and music education at Asbury University. She participated in a variety of medical mission trips/community medical outreach projects prior to starting medical school including trips to Guatemala and Jamaica. One month before starting medical school, she joined an emergency medicine group who teaches medical triage skills to community health workers in Kitale, Kenya. After working in Kenya, she traveled back to Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. She enjoys meeting local physicians with a passion for global medicine who are looking for young student doctors who are interested in joining their efforts abroad. Rebecca joined CIAO because of the group’s dedication to providing opportunities for students to serve in Memphis and abroad. 

E. Cydnie Bedford

Cydnie hails from Kingsport, TN and graduated from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2005 with degrees in Chemistry and Biology. As an undergraduate, Cydnie lived in Glasgow, Scotland for a year doing research, and just outside of Accra, Ghana for several months working for an International HIV/AIDS clinic. Following graduation, she moved to Lyon, France to complete her graduate studies in Infectious Diseases - Virology. After a few years of research, Cydnie moved to Shanghai, China where she worked for almost five years as the assistant medical director for a non-profit organization called the Baobei Foundation. This foundation works with orphanages in rural parts of China who receive infants with spina bifida, hydrocephalus and various brain tumors to provide neurosurgical treatment for these children in Shanghai. While with the foundation, Cydnie developed a rehabilitation program for these infants and organized their medical care with pediatricians at an international hospital. While in medical school, Cydnie has helped develop a Street Medicine program that provides foot care to our local homeless population. Cydnie is excited to work with CIAO as its mission to encourage service-minded medical students directly aligns with her passion to serve underserved communities both locally and abroad.


Chris Wright

Chris is from Nashville and is especially interested in health disparities within the growing Hispanic population in the United States.  He spent time before medical school doing medical interpreting and spending time doing mission work in Central and South America.  This past summer he was able to go on a CIAO funded trip to Guatemala to work with Guatemalan physicians and learn about tropical diseases.  He believes CIAO is a great organization to encourage medical students to gain patient perspectives that are different from the average patient population of Memphis.

R. Colby Passaro

Because Colby grew up in a military family and moved around a lot as a child, he has always been interested in new places and new experiences. His main research interest is in health disparities in Latin America. He received a CIAO grant to travel to Buenos Aires during M1 summer, and plans to complete international rotations in Latin America. He is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of CIAO because the group both encourages discussion about global health and promotes improving the health of the local community.

Leila Appel

Leila is originally from Maine but has lived all over the U.S, as well as six great months in Spain during her undergraduate education. The daughter of the ultimate get-involved mom, Leila has spent much of her life volunteering in many different capacities. In addition, she has always enjoyed traveling and became passionate about international outreach after an eye opening trip to Morocco. CIAO was the perfect place for her to combine her two interests into one. Also, she really enjoys experiencing vicariously the many trips her classmates participate in.

Scott Ward

Scott was born in Knoxville, but grew up in Murfreesboro, TN. He graduated from Sewanee: The University of the South with a degree in biochemistry and Russian language. He was forced to read Mountains Beyond Mountains as required freshman reading at Sewanee, and he has gravitated to global service medicine ever since. This passion was reinforced during a short ten-day medical outreach trip to Haiti in 2013, as well as several experiences with Remote Area Medical clinics. He joined CIAO in an effort to expand the profile of global medicine on campus, as well as increase the number of service opportunities available to medical students. He believes strongly that global medicine begins in the local community. 

Aniekan Udoko

Aniekan is originally from Nigeria but grew up in Nassau, Bahamas and moved to Nashville, Tennessee in her early teens. She completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at Cumberland University and Middle Tennessee State University, respectively. Aniekan was involved and continues to be involved in various volunteering efforts ranging from mentoring and tutoring school-aged children in local schools to volunteering at free clinics. She joined CIAO because of her background and her desire to help CIAO equip students to make a difference in underserved areas here in Memphis and abroad. She spent this past summer doing public health research and hopes to gain more exposure to the conditions that plague underserved communities. Her desire is to use the knowledge she gains in medical school and beyond to make a difference in the healthcare infrastructure of her native country Nigeria and other underserved areas here in the U.S. and abroad.

Sarah Thomas

Sarah is from Nashville and graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in Psychology. Before medical school, she was able to work in a clinic in Guatemala, which sparked her interest in Global Health and outreach. Since then, she has been involved in global health research, focusing on global health disparities and the surgical capacities of low-income countries. As a member of CIAO, she is interested in helping other students get involved in both local and international volunteering opportunities. 

Abigail Lepsch

Abigail was born and raised in Kingsport, TN, east of Knoxville. After changing career plans from social work to law to education, she finally landed in medicine. She continues to have a heart for communities and a mind that loves big ideas. While in college, she went on two mission trips to Hato Mayor, Dominican Republic to do medical care. Additionally during summers in college, she assisted with the HIV/AIDS education program at Matangwe Health Clinic in Kenya and taught English with WorldTeach in Manta, Ecuador. After college she taught Algebra I in Charleston, SC for two years with Teach for America. CIAO is an opportunity for her to combine her different experiences to help build healthy communities wherever she finds herself.


Tomi Akinduro        

Tomi was born in Northallerton, England and was raised there, in New Jersey, and mainly in Alabama. He was raised by parents with a strong sense of Nigerian culture and pride. He holds that aspect of his heritage near and dear. He has three siblings, an older brother, younger brother, and younger sister. He attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he received a Bachelors of Science degree in Biology and minored in Spanish and Psychology. He speaks and understands a small amount of Spanish and Yoruba (his family’s native tribal tongue). He has gained much respect for Hispanic culture over the years after exposure to these communities. He wants to make an impact in the lives of these people and Africans at large on an international level. He hopes to take his practice to Nigeria some day in order to directly improve health care.


Ian Michalak

Ian is originally from Michigan, but has spent a majority of his life in Memphis. He got his degree in neuroscience from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), where he spent time working in a Rett Syndrome lab and played on the soccer team. Ian has taken a trip to Beijing, China through the Philip Hayden Foundation, working with orphans who had various physical deformities. He has also been on a medical mission trip to Nicaragua led by a team of Memphis health care professionals through the Change a Life Foundation. Since his participation in the Bridge Builders summer program, aimed at bringing together diverse groups of high school students from around the area, Ian has always felt very invested in the Memphis community. Ian is excited about his involvement in CIAO, and hopes it will help him to find new ways to be involved in the Memphis community.

Reyna Elisa Niner

Although Reyna Elisa earned her bachelor's in biochemistry, she just might have a stronger affection for psychology, microbiology, and (begrudgingly) physics. Her diverse family taught her how to dance, laugh, garden, and cook like a Panamanian. They also made her an intense debater and game player, so beware. She loves new experiences, especially learning about other cultures and listening to people’s stories. Aware of how a lack of adequate healthcare, education, food, security, and infrastructure all play a role in locking people into poverty, Reyna is driven to address what issues she can to help her brethren across the globe.