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Members

Officers/Faculty

President

  • Liz Crowder

five females smiling for the camer

Secretary

  • Renn Lovett

Community Outreach

  • Senior Leader: Nicolette Glidden
  • Junior Co-Leader: Tracy Cherian

International Trip Planning/Fundraising

  • Vidushi Sinha

Treasurer

  • Lauren Brewer

IT Liaison

  • Jay Patel

Faculty

Catherine Womack, MD
Phone: (901) 448-5684
Email: cwomack@uthsc.edu

Students

2022

Elizabeth Crowder

Elizabeth grew up in Jackson, TN, and attended the University of Tennessee- Knoxville where she majored in Anthropology and Spanish Language. Her concentration in anthropology focused on disasters, displacement, and human rights. These classes encouraged her interest in learning about new cultures and inspired her to pursue a career working with marginalized populations. Her passions include traveling to new places and spending time in the outdoors, especially whitewater kayaking. Paddling new rivers have allowed Elizabeth to form a close connection to rural Appalachia and exposed her to the health disparities faced by many who live there. After graduating from UTK, these combined experiences helped her decide to return to school and begin the process of applying to medical school. She hopes to be involved in community outreach both in Memphis and abroad through working with CIAO. Every member of this organization inspires her with their passion and commitment to improving health outcomes for patients in these communities.

Michael Chen

Michael grew up in Johnson City, Tennessee, and then attended Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina where he majored in biology and was a member of the tennis team. Growing up, a major influence on his perspective on social and global inequalities came from his father, who is a professor who taught international relations and political science, and from his tennis background, where his coach, from Venezuela, was the head coach for the East Tennessee State University tennis team and where he was able to be mentored by various players from the team that was primarily from South America. Additionally, he lived in both China and Singapore where he further developed an interest in global and international relations. 

In college, with tennis being a primarily international sport, he developed close friendships with his teammates from every continent around the world and was able to learn more about various cultures. During that time, he also developed an interest in serving the underserved through volunteering at various organizations such as the local YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, and local churches. After graduating, he took two gap years and decided to help as a volunteer assistant coach for the East Tennessee State University men’s and women’s tennis team and work in the hospital as a certified nursing assistant at Johnson City Medical Center. To further explore his global interests during that time, he went back to China and spent time as a teaching assistant at the North China Institute of Technology and interned and volunteered at a urology clinic. He hopes to learn a lot and help out however he can as part of CIAO to continue educating and serving underserved communities around Memphis and the world.

Lauren Brewer

Lauren is from just outside of Nashville, TN, where she stayed for college at Lipscomb University. During college she served at a clinic for the uninsured and marginalized populations of Nashville. Between college and medical school, she worked at a church south of Nashville serving in student ministry and local missions. In the summer of 2019, she was able to travel to Athens, Greece to work in a clinic for women and children refugees. During and after medical school, Lauren wants to combine her compassion for underserved people and passion for medicine to help bridge the often drastic gaps in access to quality care both locally and abroad.

Elizabeth Crowder

Elizabeth grew up in Jackson, TN and attended the University of Tennessee- Knoxville where she majored in Anthropology and Spanish Language. Her concentration in anthropology focused on disasters, displacement, and human rights. These classes encouraged her interest in learning about new cultures and inspired her to pursue a career working with marginalized populations. Her passions include traveling to new places and spending time in the outdoors, especially whitewater kayaking. Paddling new rivers has allowed Elizabeth to form a close connection to rural Appalachia and exposed her to the health disparities faced by many who live there. After graduating from UTK, these combined experiences helped her decide to return to school and begin the process of applying to medical school. She hopes to be involved in community outreach both in Memphis and abroad through working with CIAO. Every member of this organization inspires her with their passion and commitment to improve health outcomes for patients in these communities.

Christina Patel

Christina was born and raised in the small town of Carthage, TN, and attended Berea College in Kentucky where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in biology and chemistry. After college, she moved to Washington, D.C. to serve with an AmeriCorps program called City Year in which she served 50hrs/week as a peer mentor for children in disadvantaged neighborhoods. The experience was eye-opening and further motivated her to address the socioeconomic and health disparities present across America. Also, while in college, she studied abroad in Japan where she resided with a host family. Christina describes the experience as everyday being an adventure. Every day, she learned something new about the world. Every day, she lived. She hopes to instill that love for learning and acceptance through her involvement in CIAO.

Jay Patel

Hi everyone! My name is Jay Patel. I’m from Crossville, TN, and I did my undergrad at UTK. While at UTK, I worked a lot with the Center for Leadership & Service and at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center to serve my community and learn how to make a positive impact. Since being in Memphis, I read to little kids weekly at a local elementary school, volunteer at the CIAO clinic, and am actively involved in Memphis Street Health. In my free time, I’m a huge fan of exploring new outdoor things and watching movies. I love Chipotle and conversation, and I’m looking forward to meeting you!

 

 

Nicolette Glidden

Nicolette grew up in Redding, CT, and graduated from Rhodes College in Memphis, TN with a degree in Neuroscience. She conducted cognitive psychology research during her undergraduate career on speech production and emotional language usage in addition to serving as captain of the Rhodes women’s soccer team. During a gap year before medical school, Nicolette worked in administration at Methodist University Hospital where she learned about the healthcare disparities affecting the Memphis community. Nicolette is excited to work with the members of CIAO to spread awareness about these healthcare disparities and to serve the people of Memphis.

Paul Percelay

Hi, my name is Paul Percelay. I grew up in Clarksville, TN where I attended Clarksville High School. I attended the University of Denver as an undergrad where I received my B.S. in Biology. While in college, I joined a student-run non-profit organization called GlobeMed. It was this club that got me excited about Global Health. I was fortunate enough to take a 6-week trip with some other GlobeMed members to Cambodia to work hand in hand with a grassroots organization there. Together, we have helped over 200 families affected by HIV/AIDS build sustainable sources of income. In between college and medical school, I took a year off to work and enjoy the wonderful state of Colorado. During this time, I worked as a medical scribe in some of the Emergency Departments across the city of Denver. I also worked as a barista at a local coffee shop. I love spending time outdoors doing all sorts of activities including hiking, camping, and playing sports. I hope to contribute to CIAO’s mission of supporting the local Memphis community and raising awareness of global health needs. I would love to meet with anyone interested in CIAO’s mission. Please feel free to reach out!

Alexus Rias

I was born in Grenada, MS, and lived out most of my childhood between Memphis, TN, Southaven, and Coila, MS. I graduated from Rhodes College in 2017 with a B.S in Biology/Anthropology and Sociology. This was a major which I wrote and created myself to combine the knowledge that the sciences provide about the human body with the insight that anthropology/sociology provides into the human race and the societal structure in which it exists. I did this intending to develop a holistic and intersectional frame of thought that would help me to address the health disparities that exist within our communities. I started this work with a research project at Rhodes in which I investigated medicals students’ perception of bias within the doctor-patient encounter, as well as their self-assessed ability to address these issues equipped only with their medical training. My study revealed that medical students are aware of bias within the provider-patient relationship, but that this awareness is due to personal experience with bias or exposure to its effects on marginalized populations as opposed to medical education itself. This finding is one of the many reasons I am so excited to be a member of CIAO. It is an organization that provides medical students with the resources to exert autonomy over their education by allowing them to personally experience and be exposed to the reality of this world and how we may change it for the better through medical practice. I am so excited to work with the members of CIAO to help enrich our education of ourselves and colleagues so that we may effectively address the issue of health disparities in Memphis and abroad.

Zach Rubnitz

Zach grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. He went to White Station High School and then received a degree in biology from Northwestern University. At Northwestern Zach spent much of his time working as an athletic training aide for the varsity sports teams and researching the processes of cell division. Zach has gone on service trips to Ecuador, Jamaica, and Nicaragua and enjoys backpacking in rural areas. He is glad to be back in Memphis for medical school and help work with the city to increase the quality of healthcare for its residents. He wants to address the lack of resources and funding for underserved populations in his neighborhood as well as countries across the globe. Zach is excited to be a new member of CIAO and help with projects both locally and globally.

Renn Lovett

Hey, my name is Renn. I'm in the COM Class of 2022. I'm from Memphis, TN, attended Germantown High School and then received my bachelor’s in science in Nursing from Murray State University. I worked as a trauma RN at Regional One in Memphis briefly before starting medical school. I love adventure and outdoor recreation, sports (all of them), and meaningful conversations over a nice cup of Joe. I'm currently undecided as to what I want to go into; it changes every week. Hope I get the pleasure to meet you one day!

2023

Tracy Cherian

Tracy grew up in Nashville, TN, and graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience. During her undergraduate career, she participated in Alzheimer’s research, served on the executive board of a South Asian cultural group, and was a choreographer of Garba, a folk dance of northern India. Before beginning medical school, Tracy worked as a medical scribe at St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville where she learned more about health disparities and mental illness in the urban community. Tracy hopes to serve the UTHSC, local, and global community through her participation in CIAO.

Alexander Bowers

I’m Alex, and I grew up in Medina, TN. I attended undergrad at The University of Memphis Lambuth Campus. Before attending college, I was a flight medic for the U.S. Air Force and had the opportunity to work overseas in the medical field on a couple of different occasions. Furthermore, I grew up with my parents being foster parents to many other children, which is what initially sparked my interest in serving others. CIAO is something I wanted to be a part of before even starting medical school because I am very passionate about community and global outreach. I hope that as being a member of CIAO I can help further the outreach initiative of The University of Tennessee and improve the local community health equity.

Vidushi Sinha

Vidushi was born in India and raised primarily in Memphis, TN, after moving to the US at a young age with her parents and older brother. She attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she majored in Psychology, minored in Chemistry, and enjoyed taking interdisciplinary courses in public health, sociology, poetry, philosophy, extraterrestrial life, and more. Through her study abroad experiences in Spain and England, she was able to hear stories from those around the world and better understand the interconnectedness of society. Vidushi is dedicated to honoring the needs of the human condition that bring us together while celebrating the differences.

Tarun Mallipeddi

Tarun Mallipeddi grew up in Franklin, TN, and attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he majored in Neuroscience and minored in Healthcare Management. While in college, he volunteered with Camp Kesem and tutored with the West Philadelphia Tutoring Project. He has traveled to Trujillo, Peru, where he was able to implement education initiatives to improve community health, and this experience helped develop his passion for international outreach. In his free time, Tarun enjoys playing tennis and hiking. He is excited to join CIAO and help other interested students make their impact locally and internationally as well as make his impact in the community.

Mason Forchetti

Mason grew up in Fayetteville, TN, and graduated from Lipscomb University with degrees in biology and applied biochemistry. While at Lipscomb, he discovered a passion for service while volunteering as a driver for the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery Program. His position as research chair of Lipscomb’s Diverse Student Coalition allowed him to get involved with the Nashville community, which is where he developed his desire to serve the underserved. He has been on two medical mission trips to Guatemala, and he has led one medical mission trip to Honduras. In his free time, Mason likes to read Stephen King books and watch sports. He is looking forward to being a part of CIAO and getting involved in the Memphis community.

Jen Crook

Jen grew up in Franklin, TN, and attended the University of Pittsburgh where she got her BA in Spanish and her BS in Neuroscience. She also completed a certificate in global studies with a focus in global health. While in college she studied abroad in Cuba and volunteered in a free clinic as a translator, where she developed her passion for working with the underserved and peoples from around the world. During her gap year before medical school Jen worked in pediatric infectious disease at Vanderbilt and volunteered at a free clinic in Nashville, where she had the opportunity to serve the community she grew up in. Jen is now involved with the Global Surgery Institute and CIAO, and hopes to expand UTHSC’s local and international outreach, as well as its students’ ability to working with the underserved. She is so excited to be a part of the CIAO family!

Ruth Dunn

After growing up in Brentwood, Tennessee, I spent four years in Baton Rouge earning a degree in Biology from LSU. During my time there, I interned with the LA State Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control in Nairobi, Kenya. I conducted clinical research in pediatric viral illness and basic science research in adipocyte biology. Perhaps most influentially, I was selected as a Louisiana Service and Leadership (LASAL) Scholar, which included coursework on poverty and coastal land loss in Louisiana. These experiences solidified my passion for addressing issues of inequity in our world, which I hope to do through a career in medicine and public health. Most recently, I spent the last year in Thomassique, Haiti, as a Global Health Fellow, running community-based health programs and acting as an intermediary between the funding organization and the local staff. Now in Memphis, I am excited to be a part of this organization committed to reaching communities locally and abroad.

2024

Kinza Khan

Kinza was raised in Lahore, Pakistan, and attended duke university where she graduated with a degree in political science. She is incredibly passionate and interested in the intersection between policy and healthcare and how civic engagement and community outreach can kickstart progress towards mitigating health disparities that exist globally. She hopes to one day open up a free-of-cost hospital where people can come and get treated regardless of their insurance status, race, sexuality, and identity. Her life’s mission is to live a life spent in the service of others.

Dylan Parker

My name is Dylan Parker, and I was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. I attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and graduated in 2020. While in undergrad I was able to do research in genetics, Volunteer at UT Medical center, and be involved in over 20 different service projects. These experiences allowed me to gain a lot of exposure to service and helping those in need. This led to a passion for volunteering that I have continued to pursue since moving to Memphis. Being able to work with the manifold of organizations that UTHSC sponsors and funds have been an extraordinary experience and I am very excited to continue this work with CIAO.

Jon Ward

I grew up in Batesville, Arkansas, and attended undergrad at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas before coming to UTHSC. While at Harding I realized that I wanted to pursue medicine as a way to serve communities that lack the resources people need to thrive. My study abroad semester at Harding and a summer mission program in Guatemala opened my eyes to the opportunities that were open to me and ways physicians can partner with local communities to improve their quality of life. I was drawn to CIAO by the mission of the program. I know the value that international experiences can give to students at any stage. Once travel is possible again, I hope to be able to assist others in obtaining those experiences. I think the greatest thing we can do is connect others to opportunities and experiences that help them develop a passion for service that they can continue throughout their lives. In addition to CIAO, I assist with Clinica Esperanza as a medical interpreter.

Laura Quillen

Laura was born and raised in Kingsport, TN, and attended Duke University where she received dual degrees in music and evolutionary anthropology. During her time at Duke, she had the opportunity to live in Madagascar for two months as part of a service project, which inspired her to become a physician and seek opportunities that strive to improve the access and quality of health care worldwide. After graduation, she worked as a study coordinator at UNC-Chapel Hill for research studies that aim to improve the psychosocial care of cancer patients. Laura is eager to further CIAO’s mission by serving under-resourced communities both locally and internationally.

Marcie Bulla

Marcie Bulla grew up is from Franklin, TN, and went to Belmont University with a major in Biology. At Belmont, she founded the local Global Medical Brigades chapter, helped raised over $75K for this cause, and has helped others internationally in countries such as Cambodia and Mexico. She has a strong passion for service and is excited to be a part of CIAO!

Natalie Oxley

Natalie grew up in Knoxville, TN. She attended Wheaton College in Illinois where she graduated with a BA in Spanish and a BS in Applied Health Science. After graduation, she worked at a clinic in Knoxville translating for Spanish-speaking patients and helping indigent patients. Through her experiences at the clinic, she saw firsthand the health disparities that impact refugees, immigrants, and uninsured patients in Tennessee. In addition to her local outreach in East Tennessee, Natalie has visited more than forty countries and worked with several international organizations on humanitarian projects. In her free time, she likes to read, bake, and rock climb. Natalie is excited to work with CIAO to serve the community in Memphis and abroad.

Sessen Dudek

My name is Sessen Dudek, and I was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia. I moved from Canada to Memphis to attend the University of Memphis. At the UofM, I played on the Women’s Soccer team and double majored in Biology and Chemistry. During undergrad, I looked for ways to serve underserved communities as I knew it was something I was passionate about. I was fortunate to be involved with multiple organizations that worked globally and locally to help medically underserved communities. I took two gap years to work at a local clinic that serves the uninsured to gain a better understanding of the American healthcare system and the disparities individuals in Memphis face. Over the past two years, I have also been working towards U.S citizenship. The process has given me a unique perspective of the immigration system and the disparities present. I hope to use my experiences, and the knowledge gained through CIAO to better myself for my future practice as a physician. I am so excited to be a part of CIAO and work with like-minded individuals to better communities locally and abroad!

Shelby Graham

I am originally from Seymour, TN, and then moved to Knoxville to attend the University of Tennessee where I got my BS in biology with a focus on biochemistry, cellular, and molecular biology. While an undergraduate, I volunteered for UT hospital in the OR, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in the ED, and for Remote Area Medical in their rural outreach clinics. During this time, I also participated in research in chemistry geared toward the modification of steroids to lessen the negative effects when given to patients with diabetes. I also scribed at Knoxville Orthopedic Clinic for my last two years of undergraduate which further introduced me to the patient populations and the medical disparities in my community. Before medical school, I obtained an MS in Pharmacology from UTHSC. I hope to be able to take my previous experience from Knoxville and apply it to my new Memphis community. I am passionate about furthering health equality and strengthening patient education. In my free time, I enjoy reading, cooking, and walking my dog Samson in the many wonderful outdoor areas of Memphis.

Sonal Khedkar

Sonal was raised in Nashville, TN, and attended the University of TN-Knoxville, where she majored in Neuroscience and minored in Statistics. One of her most memorable experiences from college was studying abroad in London, Berlin, and Rome. During this semester abroad, she learned about discrepancies in the healthcare system internationally and is excited to use what she learned abroad to help address disparities right here in America. In her free time, she loves to dance, write poetry, and hang out with friends. She’s excited to be a part of CIAO and hopes to make a difference in the community both locally and internationally.

Last Published: Jul 21, 2021