Global Health Graduate Student Ambassadors

Ashiana Jivraj

Degree Program: Master of Business Administration (MBA)/Dentistry (DMD)

Harvard Business School

Harvard School of Dental Medicine

Graduation year: 2019

Ashiana is a second year dental student from Calgary, Alberta, Canada who has a passion for finding bridges between Oral Health, Global Health, and Economics. Born to Kenyan Indian parents, she quickly learned that we often overlook the simple fact that we are on this globe, and therefore should be a part of finding a solution for the often troubling state of international healthcare.  Ashiana decided to work with HGHI to continue learning from people who know a lot more about the world than she does. 

RenzoRamon Lorenzo Luis Rosa Guinto

Degree Program: DrPH

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Graduation Year: 2019

Renzo is a current DrPH candidate at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and holds a broad range of interests in global health and sustainable development, ranging from universal health care, medical education, and migrant health, to global health diplomacy, NCD’s, and climate change & energy policy. He has conducted projects both locally and internationally in all those aforementioned areas. Currently, Renzo’s main focus is on the intersection of climate change and human health. In his doctoral work, he is exploring implementation strategies for building climate-smart health systems - which are both climate-resilient and low-carbon. Since the climate-health nexus is affected by other sectors, Renzo is also interested in finding ways to translate health evidence to inform climate policy and practice, such as in urban planning, carbon pricing, and energy transformation. He is an active contributor to the development of a new field called 'planetary health,' an umbrella term that captures the issues mentioned above. After studying at Harvard, Renzo hopes to lead in developing and implementing innovative policy and practical solutions to pressing global health and planetary health challenges in the era of sustainable development. His singular, ultimate desire is to advance the health of both people and the planet.

 

SammSamantha Melton

Degree Program: Master of Divinity (MDiv)

Harvard Divinity School

Graduation Year: 2018

Samantha Melton is pursuing her Master of Divinity degree at Harvard Divinity School where she is currently in her second year of study. After completing her Bachelor of Science in Psychology, with a minor in Religion and Social Justice, she entered the candidacy process for Ministry of Word and Sacrament with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and upon completion of her MDiv, she plans to pursue her ThM during her ‘Lutheran Year’ at The Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago (LSTC). She is also a member of Proclaim, an ELCA community of LGBTQ+ identifying seminarians and clergy and enjoys having the opportunity to be involved in grassroots movements such as Naked and Unashamed and Decolonize Lutheranism. Her experience working at a Public Health Clinic in Kentucky and on Sustainability projects in Limpopo, South Africa with Blessman Ministries has led her studies to focus at the intersection of Lutheranism and public church theology, with particular interests in mental health and prison education. She is currently serving as a Vicar at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in North Quincy.

Celia Reddick

Degree Program: PhD in Education; Cultures, Institutions & Society concentration

Harvard Graduate School of Education

Graduation Year: 2022

Celia has worked in education in a variety of contexts, including medical education in Rwanda through Partners In Health (PIH). Before joining PIH, she worked as a 9th and 10th grade English teacher through the NYC Teaching Fellow program. Her students came from many places around the world and peeked her interest in education policies in diverse contexts. Pursuing this interest, she spent a year in Fort Portal, Uganda, working with teacher trainers at the Canon Apolo Primary Teachers College and three years in Rwanda as the Curriculum & Training Specialist for PIH. As a PhD student, she is exploring instructional language policies in places affected by conflict or fragility. She believes that educational policies must take into account the diverse social and political dynamics affecting learners and teachers, including access to health care. Celia holds a BA from the College of Letters and German Studies Department from Wesleyan University, a Masters in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from Lehman College, and an Ed.M. in International Education Policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

KWSKirstin Woody Scott

Degree Program: MD

Harvard Medical School

Graduation Year: 2019

Kirstin Woody Scott, MPhil PhD is a student at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of the HGHI Graduate Student Seminar.  She is originally from Bakersfield, California and graduated from the University of California Davis with degrees in Neurobiology and Classical Civilizations in 2006.  She received her MPhil in Public Health from the University of Cambridge in 2007, completing her thesis on Bulgaria’s public health system. She returned to her home state of California to work in local politics as the Public Health Advisor to a Kern County Supervisor and then later served as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar in Nicaragua in 2008. After relocating to Nashville where her husband, John, was completing his medical studies, she worked for Vanderbilt’s Institute for Clinical and Translational Research and helped to create ResearchMatch.org.  In 2010, she began the PhD in Health Policy program at Harvard, concentrating on political analysis and global health quality. During her time in the program, which she completed in 2015, she was supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program and was appointed as a teaching fellow to multiple undergraduate and graduate courses in global health, health care quality and politics. Since November 2013, she has served as a senior research fellow to Rwanda’s Minister of Health, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, focusing on initiatives to improve quality of care. Beyond her studies, Kirstin is an avid endurance runner, completing Ironman triathlons and dozens of marathons and ultramarathons, and enjoys spending time on her family’s cattle ranch in the mountains of Woody, California.

YusufYusuf Lenfest

Degree Program: Master of Theological Studies (MTS)

Harvard Divinity School

Graduation Year: 2018

Yusuf Lenfest is a theologian whose work intersects ethics, philosophy, and medical anthropology. His research explores the religious and cultural dimensions of medicine as well as the relationship between health and social change. With a particular focus on psychiatry and neuroscience, Yusuf is interested in how morality operates both on the interpersonal level and as embedded in the ordering of social life. His studies examine the ways in which culture shapes our ideas about mental illness and how medicine and health are intimately bound up in a dialectical relationship with culture.

Yusuf is also a Petrie-Flom Student Fellow at Harvard Law School where he is completing a research project on bioethics in Islamic law. He is currently pursuing a Master of Theology (MTS) in Islamic Studies at Harvard Divinity School where his work considers how religion, spirituality, or aesthetic experiences can be used alongside traditional biomedicine and medical practice to better treat patients. Yusuf holds a BA in literature and philosophy from the University of Vermont and an MSc in comparative politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science. His time living in developing nations—including Yemen where he lived from 2009–2012—had a profound impact on him and has inspired him to pursue a career in medicine in hopes of one day doing pro bono work in Yemen and other developing countries. Following Harvard, Yusuf plans to go to medical school and train as a psychiatrist.

Natalie WangNatalie Wang

Degree Program: Master in Design Studies, Risk and Resilience 

Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Graduation Year: 2018

Natalie’s research is focused on developing alternative design research methods that are sensitive to transgenerational trauma, inequality, reconciliation and development as a preemptive form of practice. Meanwhile, designing spaces of healing and wellbeing.

Natalie is a strategist and designer by training who has worked several years designing social interventions for non-profits and transnational organizations. Concurrently she has studied psychology, neuroscience, anthropology, divinity, and identity, with themes of trauma, empathy, forgiveness, narcissism and altruism to discover how self awareness affects decision making. Her work has taken her to research in New Orleans to consulting in New York City and strategizing in countries such as India, Brazil, South Africa, and Ecuador. In 2013 she was part of a team that was awarded “Game Changer” by Metropolis Magazine and was a finalist in Fast Company’s Innovation By Design Awards.

Oby2Obiageli L.O. Okafor

Degree Program: DrPH

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Graduation Year: 2020

Obiageli began her professional career as a medical doctor in a government teaching hospital in Nigeria after which she proceeded to serve as a physician in under-served rural communities in Nigeria. There, she saw several deaths from reproductive health issues that could have been averted through knowledge on prevention. Obiageli stepped in to fill that gap by teaching sexual, reproductive and adolescent health to secondary school students. Her service earned her the Joint Japan World Bank Scholarship to undergo the Masters of Public Health training. Obiageli returned to Nigeria and took up a position with an international NGO working on HIV programs in Nigeria. As a field staff, she coordinated implementation of HIV programs in one of the largest slums in Nigeria. She then moved on to her last position as a technical officer in monitoring and evaluation, where she used data to advise field programs in HIV.

Obiageli has deliberately sought out broad and relevant experiences to help her understand how health programs are effectively implemented. And as an older generation of leaders step down on the continent of Africa, Obiageli positions herself to take over the baton of leadership in Healthcare.

Her goals are simple - effective programs, healthier lives and sustainable health reforms. Obiageli earned a medical degree from Khazar University, Azerbaijan and an MPH from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Parisa Fallah

Degree Program: MD

Harvard Medical School

Graduation Year: 2020

Parisa Fallah is a first year at Harvard Medical School. She is from El Paso, Texas and graduated in 2016 as a Dean’s Scholar from the University of Texas at Austin with an honors degree in Biology and a minor in Sociology. Parisa has always been passionate about social justice and spent several years working with middle school students and their families in underprivileged areas of Austin using a grassroots approach to help build the community’s capacity to address its needs. She also spent a summer doing a thoracic surgery externship at MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the combined experiences of community work and surgical care ultimately led to her passion for global surgery. During undergrad, she spent two years working on a global surgery thesis, focusing on how we can increase involvement in sustainable global surgery efforts, and how we can systematize and improve these capacity-building efforts worldwide. She presented this work at the Bethune Round Table in June 2016, and her abstract from the conference is published in the Canadian Journal of Surgery. She recently launched the Global Surgery Student Alliance, which is the national student-run global surgery working group for the U.S. that is collaborating with similar national student groups around the world. She currently serves as the GSSA’s National Chair. Her goal is to bring more students into global surgery so that they can contribute to the growth of the field. Beyond her academic interests, Parisa enjoys playing soccer, ice-skating, singing & song-writing, and playing music with her friends.

MorganeMorgane Amat

Degree Program: Dentistry (DMD)

Harvard School of Dental Medicine

Graduation year: 2019

Morgane Amat is a second year dental student at Harvard School of Dental Medicine. She received her bachelor’s degree in physics and Spanish from Connecticut College and worked in case management and social work through an Americorps program at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center. She has been involved in multiple global projects including an internship assisting dentists in a government dental clinic in Cuzco, Peru. She attended the International Special Olympics in Graz, Austria in 2017 as a volunteer for the Special Smiles team. She also recently joined a research team working with oral health and Syrian Refugees in Massachusetts. Morgane is currently working with a team of Medical and Dental students through the Agents of Change HMS grant to bring Nutrition and Oral health to Early Intervention home visits at the Dimock Community Health Center.

Rebecca Stern

Degree Program: Doctor of Philosophy - Engineering Sciences 

Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Graduation year: 2022

Rebecca is a doctoral candidate in Engineering Sciences at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and a member of the Biogeochemistry of Global Contaminants research group. Prior to joining SEAS, Rebecca was a Research Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and an assistant vice president at an asset management firm in New York. She has experience working with organizations including Special Olympics College, the Yale Journal of Public Health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Fonkoze, a Haitian microfinance institution. Rebecca graduated from Yale University in 2012 with a double major in Environmental Studies and Political Science.

Veena

Veena Prasad

Degree Program: Master of Theological Studies (MTS)

Harvard Divinity School

Graduation Year: 2018

Veena Prasad is an MTS student at Harvard Divinity School (HDS) and a PhD candidate in Counseling and Education Psychology at Texas A&M Corpus Christie. Currently she is a member of Sustainable Peace Working group initiated by Dean Hempton of HDS, and serves on the board of Center for Refugee Services in San Antonio. Her passion is improving mental health services for new mothers and for refugees.

Veena's dissertation topic focuses on helping to identify and support new mothers with postpartum depression (PPD). Given her knowledge of PPD and how stigmatized it often is in other cultures, in addition to the devastating effects it can have on child development, Veena co-developed a mental wellness app targeted to new mothers. The app has psycho-educational component, mindfulness videos, and the Edinburg Postnatal Depression Scale, which is used all over the world to measure PPD. Data from the app can be uploaded to medical records for physicians to connect with their patients and evaluate their mental health status. The app currently is available in English and Spanish. The goal is to make it available in multiple languages and in a culturally-sensitive context for women to use it as a tool for self-care and to connect with community-based health care workers.

Veena has several years of experience working with students in her previous, well-established career in biochemistry. Her current interests are in the field of culturally-sensitive maternal mental health. As an active member of her community in San Antonio, Texas, she has decades of experience working with community groups in the areas of education, culture/religion and science.