CA-3 Bios

Willie Agee

Hometown: Birmingham, AL
Undergraduate Education: Savannah State University
Medical School: Meharry Medical College
Bio: Aloha! I was born in Charleston, South Carolina and have gained varying cultural experiences along the way. I was raised in Birmingham, Alabama and Bridgetown, Barbados West Indies, the hometowns of my parents. Living amongst such different cultures at an early age gave me a distinctive perspective on life. After graduating high school in Birmingham, I needed to be close to the ocean again. I attended Savannah State University where I majored in Biology with a minor in Naval Science. I earned my Ph.D. in Biochemistry & Molecular in the Laboratory of Stuart Thompson Ph.D. at The Medical College of Georgia (now Augusta University); where a temperature regulated chaperone in Campylobacter jejuni was the focus of my dissertation. I joined the U.S. Army and served as a clinical microbiologist at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. My time in the hospital as a microbiologist inspired my pursuit of a career in medicine. I left active duty to attend Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. I chose Vanderbilt for residency because of their reputation for clinical and research excellence. Additionally, I felt the program valued residents with diverse life experiences. Nashville quickly became one of my favorite places I’ve lived. There are a plethora of restaurants and breweries to enjoy around town. Beautiful golf courses to work on my game and trails adjacent to the Cumberland River when time with nature is needed. The Music City envelops you with hiking trails, family activities, theater, and of course, musical entertainment. I live in Goodlettsville which is north of Nashville due to my wife’s job and good schools for my children. Vanderbilt offers the educational balance to the adventurous city of Nashville. Hope to meet you soon!
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Chiamaka Amanchukwu

Hometown: Houston, TX
Undergraduate Education: Texas A&M University
Medical School: University of Texas SOM, San Antonio TX
Bio: My name is pronounced Chee-Ah-Mah-Kah, which means “God is beautiful” in the Igbo language. Born in Lagos Nigeria, but raised in Houston TX with my amazing siblings. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, creating new hairstyles/makeup looks, and reading sappy romance novels. Though I’ve lived in Texas most of my life, I am super excited to be in Nashville. There’s something for everyone here, at least pre-covid. Lots of amazing concerts to attend, the food scene is great, night life is lit, and plenty of outdoor activities to participate in. I live in midtown with my fiancé, which is a 5-7 minute drive to Vandy, and a short walk to plenty of nice restaurants (I’m obviously a foodie). My favorite part of residency by far are my amazing co-residents.
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Kimberly Aut

Hometown: Eagle River, WI
Undergraduate Education: University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
Medical School: University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
Bio: I grew up in Northern Wisconsin, served 6 years active duty in the Army, did undergrad at Univ of Colorado, met my husband in a rock climbing gym out in Colorado Springs, and ended up back in the Cheese State for med school. We have a toddler who is a ton of fun and keeps us super busy. We rent in the 12 South neighborhood which we love because there are sidewalks, parks, farmers markets, and plenty of restaurants nearby (and it is only a six minute drive to the hospital!). We were surprised to find lots of beautiful areas to hike and explore the outdoors, all within a 15 minute drive. Hands down, the thing I love most about Vanderbilt is the people. I couldn’t ask for a more thoughtful, compassionate, supportive (and entertaining) group of residents.
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Bobby Barnes

Hometown: Omaha, NE
Undergraduate Education:
Medical School: University of Nebraska Medical Center
Bio: Hi all! I am a midwest transplant to Nashville; I grew up in Omaha and spent some time in Chicago before returning to Nebraska for medical school. I moved to Nashville, with my wife, Claire, and schnauzer, Doc. Vanderbilt was an easy choice for residency because of the stellar anesthesia training, well supported Global Health program, and the allure of Music City.  Nashville has helped my unhealthy love of live female pop music grow with features from Maggie Rogers, Carly Rae Jepson, Charlie XCX, and Kacey Musgraves.  I spend most of my free time riding my bike around town to find the best breweries (Southern Grist), coffee shops (Sump), and delis (51st Deli).  We just recently moved to the artsy neighborhood of Wedgewood-Houston to be closer to great food, bars and the new MLS stadium. Aside from the entertainment component of Nashville, Vanderbilt has been an incredible residency experience. It is clear that our education and time is valued by administration and faculty. I genuinely look forward to hanging out with my co-residents every day and many of the residents and faculty have become my closest friends!
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Alex Cesare

Hometown: Huntingdon, PA
Undergraduate Education: Cornell University
Medical School: Penn State COM
Bio: I grew up in small-town Pennsylvania and studied bioengineering in undergrad. When I realized I was going to be super bored as an engineer, I decided to go to medical school at Penn State! My husband and I got married in between medical school and residency; now we live in North Nashville and absolutely love it! We are both singers, so Nashville was the perfect choice for us. We can’t wait to start going to live performances again soon. On days off, we love to explore the many restaurants, wineries, and breweries that this city has to offer as well as go hiking with our Great Dane, Scooby Doo. My favorite part of residency is getting to know all of my co-residents; they are a constant source of support and truly help to make everyday fun. Vandy has been a wonderful place to train so far, and I’m so happy to be here!
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Jamie Clark

Hometown: White Lake, MI
Undergraduate Education: Michigan State University
Medical School: Wayne State University School of Medicine
Bio: Growing up in Michigan, I have a true love for snowy winters and spent my younger years skiing competitively. However, when it came time to apply for residency, I knew I wanted to leave my home state and start a new adventure. I never thought I would move to the south, but after interviewing at Vanderbilt, I knew that this is where I wanted to be. Unsure of which fellowship or career direction I want to pursue, Vanderbilt offers strong training in many areas and a supportive atmosphere in which to explore and learn. My favorite thing about the program is my co-residents, who make being far from home not so bad. When I am not working, my boyfriend (a Vanderbilt Internal Medicine resident), dog (Lola), and I enjoy exploring the beautiful waterfalls and hikes that surround Nashville. We are also big fans of the live music scene. We live near Centennial Park and love all of the green space and the 1.5 mile drive (or bike) to work. We could not be happier with our choice to come to Vanderbilt!
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Veronica D'Ambra

Hometown: Andover, MA
Undergraduate Education: Boston College
Medical School: Wake Forest University
Bio: Hey everyone! My name is Veronica, I am one of the current CA1 residents. A little about me: I am originally from Massachusetts, I got my degree in political science from Boston College, then I took 3 years off between college and medical school during which time I lived in Manhattan and New Orleans, and then I went to medical school at Wake Forest. I consider myself a pretty outgoing person and love being in a city that is growing quickly, every week it feels like there is a new restaurant to check out or fun activity/night life to attend. Even during covid times there has been plenty to do because there is also a ton of close-by outdoor activities such as hiking, or floating the local rivers, or hanging out at Percy priest lake. I have also loved my time at Vanderbilt so far. I have had a great time because the atmosphere of the hospital is positive and collegial and I got to make great friends in all different fields. I also have a golden retriever if anyone is wondering about getting a dog, you can make it work! Nashville is very dog friendly and it is a lot of fun to bring a fur friend to the bars and restaurants. Thanks for reading and welcome to Vandy!
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Taylor Drees

Hometown: Prairie Village, KS
Undergraduate Education: The University of Kansas
Medical School: The University of Kansas
Bio: I am originally from outside of Kansas City, KS. I went to undergrad and medical school at The University of Kansas. My wife and I currently live in Bellevue with our dog, Ivy. We just moved from Germantown into a new house and have been spending a lot of our time doing various household projects and decorating. My favorite thing about Nashville has been the variety of things to do – from exploring bars/music downtown, to taking our dog on walks in the many parks nearby – Nashville has a lot to offer for everyone. It truly has been a great transition moving from Kansas City! My favorite thing about the residency program has been the people. From day one, I’ve felt supported and welcomed into an ever growing Vandy family.
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Maggie Galloway

Hometown: Dallas, TX
Undergraduate Education: University of Texas at Austin
Medical School: University of Texas Medical Branch
Bio: Hi! I grew up in Dallas, went to the University of Texas at Austin for undergrad and then made my way down to the University of Texas Medical Branch for medical school. Finally decided to leave Texas and I have loved living in Nashville! It’s such a fun and friendly place with so many different things to do—great restaurants/bars, farmer’s markets, fun festivals/concerts/events, and nearby hiking trails. It’s been so much fun to explore the city with my amazing co-residents.
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Katie Gorman

Hometown: Westfield, NJ
Undergraduate Education: Duke University
Medical School: University of Colorado
Bio: Hi! I'm originally from NJ. I headed down to Duke for college, after which I landed in Denver through Teach for America and taught First Grade for 2 years. Then, I worked as a Research Assistant/Coordinator for 3 years before going to medical school at University of Colorado. My husband Cole, our puppy Wilson, and I chose Vanderbilt for the people. We love our co-interns, co-partners, and co-puppies and can't imagine a more fun, inclusive, kind group of people and canines. We live in Sylvan Park and love our neighborhood with its free porch concerts, to-go margaritas, and access to the Greenway.
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Hannah Gray

Hometown: Fayetteville, TN
Undergraduate Education: University of Tennessee
Medical School: East Tennessee State University
Bio: I was born and raised in Tennessee, attended undergrad at the University of Tennessee, and medical school at East Tennessee State University. I live just a bike ride away from Vanderbilt in the gulch. My happy place is in the mountains hiking and camping, but I love the city of Nashville as well! One of my favorite things about Nashville is it’s many neighborhoods. Each has it’s own personality and unique vibe. I never find myself bored in this city. On my days off, you can find me at the local yoga studio, trying out a new restaurant, or planning my next big vacation. Although Tennessee holds a special spot in my heart, I am always looking forward to an adventure somewhere new.
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Rudo Makonza Goto

Hometown: Harare, Zimbabwe
Undergraduate Education: Mount Holyoke College
Medical School: University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Bio: My journey began from a small suburb in Harare, Zimbabwe. A chance meeting with a Mount Holyoke college alum sparked my interest in Biochemistry and soon I was in college in South Hadley, Massachusetts. From there, I discovered yet another gem, Pittsburgh, a city that nurtured my love for medicine and taught me that there can be an entire weekend festival dedicated to pickles. While I was disappointed to leave 'Steeler Nation', I have since found a wonderful home in Nashville to add to life's journey. Vanderbilt has by far been a friendly and warm place to learn at, and I consider it a privilege to interact with people from all walks of life daily. I live in beautiful Green Hills neighborhood and enjoy spending time with friends, swimming, cooking, wine tasting and lounging in front of the TV after a successful day at work.
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Maziar Nourian

Hometown: Salt Lake City, UT
Undergraduate Education: University of Utah
Medical School: University of Utah
Bio: Hey all! My name is Mazi and I am a Persian kid who grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah now out here in Nashville! I love my family and getting together with people for fun activities. I aspire to stay in academics and do global anesthesiology work in hopes of creating safer surgery for all. What I love about Nashville is air-conditioning and my amazing resident class as we all clicked instantly and continue to have fun regularly in this cool and easy to live city!
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Luis Perez

Hometown: McAllen, TX
Undergraduate Education: University of Texas-Pan American
Medical School: Baylor College of Medicine
Bio: I’m originally from McAllen, TX a pleasant border town with more Mexican restaurants than street lights. I enjoy fishing, playing guitar, and turning a wrench. Intern year at Vanderbilt was good, but being in anesthesia is even better. Currently live in midtown, a nice neighborhood with plenty to do. Favorite part of anesthesia at Vanderbilt is definitely the people, from a great class with fun and interesting co-residents to highly invested faculty and leadership, I am grateful to be at VUMC and would choose it again in an instant.
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Erin Shirley

Hometown: Tulsa, OK
Undergraduate Education: University of Oklahoma
Medical School: University of Oklahoma, College of Medicine
Bio: Hi, my name is Erin Shirley. I was born and raised in Oklahoma, so Boomer Sooner! I have a wonderful husband, Jon, and two dogs, Remi and Argo. We spend a lot of time at local and state parks and are avid hikers. I grew up riding horses and have started taking lessons again at a barn outside Nashville. Currently, we live in Bellevue and commute to work. We are avid board game fans and love to host game nights with my co-residents. My other hobbies include cooking and gardening.
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Sarah Stender

Hometown: Charleston, SC
Undergraduate Education: Vanderbilt University
Medical School: LSU New Orleans
Bio: Hi! I’m Sarah. I’m a CA-1 originally from South Carolina, but I’ve moved around the South a bit. I went to college here at Vandy and med school in New Orleans. I chose to return to Vandy for residency for so many reasons. We have an incredible program with kind and smart people who work hard and have each other’s backs. Our faculty and co-residents are diverse with different perspectives and techniques to teach, and our patients are sick. We’re also given opportunities for higher level procedures very early on, and our volume is robust. When I’m not at the hospital, I really enjoy adventuring to the smaller towns and trails outside of the city – that is when I’m not on a deep sea fishing or sailing adventure. There is always a new part of Nashville to explore, and I’ve certainly discovered a lot since moving back. I live in the 8th and Melrose neighborhood, which is 5 minutes from the hospital and walking distance to some great restaurants and coffee shops. It’s also a very easy drive to the country and Percy Priest Lake.
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Sara Valek

Hometown: Dallas
Undergraduate Education: University of Texas
Medical School: University of Texas Health – San Antonio, TX
Bio: I am from Dallas, Texas, attended undergrad at UT Austin, then taught English in Prague before starting medical school at UT Health San Antonio.  My husband Evan, Labrador Carlos and I live in Lockeland Springs neighborhood in East Nashville.  I love gardening, exploring the city and going on hikes with Carlos around town – especially Shelby Bottoms. I enjoy hosting friends at our place and I look forward to having more gatherings! I feel so fortunate to have such an fun group of co-residents in this lively city!
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Olivia Valencia

Hometown: Tucson, Arizona
Undergraduate Education: University of Arizona
Medical School: University of Arizona College of Medicine - Tucson
Bio: Hi, there! My name is Olivia and I am originally from Tucson, Arizona. I chose to come to Vanderbilt for the unique combination of clinical excellence, emphasis on global health, and kind people. My expectations in all three areas have been exceeded! My favorite things about Nashville (other than our tight-knit resident family) are the cultural activities, including the Frist Museum of Art, the Nashville Symphony, etc., and the beautiful local and state parks, such as Percy Warner Park, Radnor Lake, and others. I live in the area around Vanderbilt University and the hospital, and I really enjoy having all these things right at my fingertips!
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