Graduate Certificate in Health Equity Alumni

The Graduate Certificate in Health Equity is offered for Vanderbilt University medical students who wish to deepen their knowledge and expertise in order to embark on leadership careers in this area. To learn more, please visit this page.

2022 Graduating Class

  • Jacqueline believes that it was a true honor and privilege to do health equity work during her time at Vanderbilt School of Medicine. She had opportunities to work on the Racial Equity Taskforce to dismantle structural racism at our institution, bolster the URM pipeline as president of the SNMA chapter, create meaningful longitudinal service opportunities for students as the Director of Service for the Social Mission Committee, evaluate ACE screening tools at Vanderbilt Pediatric Clinics, serve on the Shade Tree Board of Advisors among other roles. Jacqueline was honored with the Levi Watkins Jr. Student Award in 2020 for contributions to the institution and community in fostering a more diverse environment and was also inaugurated in Gold Humanism Honor Society. She hopes to be a pediatrician who continues to promote efforts in equity-related work and advocacy for vulnerable, underserved patients and their families. Jacqueline plans to continue to mentor and encourage students to pursue medicine, especially those who are underrepresented in medicine and for whom there are multiple perceived barriers to pursuing a career in healthcare. 

  • Heidi's involvement with health equity at Vanderbilt started as a first year through VPIL with continuity time each week spent at Mercury Courts Clinic. Here, she learned the importance of personalized care and gained skills in providing care for folks with fewer resources. Heidi continued learning during her time as co-director of Shade Tree Gynecology and worked towards health equity education changes as co-president of the Social Mission Committee. She is joining George Washington University's squad of OB/GYNs and hope to serve those in the DC area with the knowledge she has gained at VUSM. Long term, Heidi hope to work at a sliding scale or free gynecologic clinic providing care to uninsured folks

  • Rachel is a member of the Vanderbilt SOM Class of 2022. At Vanderbilt, she served as a clinical volunteer and Acute Care Coordinator for Shade Tree Clinic. She also served as the Director of Education for the Social Mission Committee, where she led the incorporation of student-driven changes into mandatory curriculum. She is most proud of the Medical Student Advocacy Guide, which has helped students advocate for vulnerable populations in the hospital and has been incorporated into VUMC resident education. Rachel is so excited to begin her residency training in Internal Medicine at UCSF. Her goal is to become a general internist or preventative cardiologist, focused on providing care to populations in need and improving cardiovascular health disparities.

  • Hatice Nur Eken (VUSM '22) has been a part of Health Equity certificate program. Hailing from Adana, Turkey, she has long been fascinated by the role of culture in medicine and generation of care inequities. Her work during medical school investigated racial disparities in culturally competent care in individuals with psychiatric needs, which culminated in a publication in Lancet Psychiatry. After graduation, she will be starting her residency training in psychiatry at Western Psychiatric Hospital at UPMC. In the future, she hopes to continue working with underprivileged populations with different psychiatric conditions and is passionate about exploring the influence of culture on diagnosis and treatment inequities in psychiatric care

  • Nicole Kloosterman is a graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine who completed the Certificate in Health Equity and Global Health. She is a current resident at Medical University of South Carolina and is pursuing a career in Otolaryngology. She hopes to continue incorporating health disparities research, public health prevention initiatives, and global health outreach in her future career

  • Kathy Lee is originally from Taipei, Taiwan. While at Vanderbilt, she spent a lot of time at the student-run Shade Tree Clinic serving as a social worker, preclinical and clinical volunteer, Director of Operations, as well as Dispenser-In-Charge. Throughout medical school, she also developed an interest in the unique health challenges that face the APIA community and explored this through APAMSA, serving both within the local Vanderbilt chapter as well as the southeastern region of the national organization. She is excited to pursue training in anesthesiology and hopes to continue developing her passions in health equity and immigrant health.

  • Katie is originally from Holmdel, NJ and graduated from the University of North Carolina in 2017 with degrees in Biology and Psychology. During her time at Vanderbilt, Katie was engaged with health equity work through Shade Tree Clinic, serving as a social worker, clinical volunteer, and finally Social Work Director of Shade Tree Clinic (2020-2021). She also served as Co-Director of the Shade Tree Surgery Clinic and Co-President of Physicians for Human Rights. Katie was inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha and is a recipient of the H. William Scott Jr. Award. Katie is excited to begin her residency trainingin general surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, with hopes of becoming a pediatric surgeon and advocating for health equity in her pediatric patients.

  • While at Vanderbilt, Timothy had the wonderful opportunity to engage in meaningful health-equity focused experiences and projects. Timothy worked at Shade Tree Clinic as a social worker during his first year and later led a quality improvement project in his third year that was focused on improving the clinic's appointment reminder system. Additionally, his research immersion experience was focused on investigating mental health access and outcomes in the pediatric immigrant population. He also served as a student member of the Racial Equity Task Force's infrastructure workgroup and was involved in the Social Mission Committee's education subcommittee, evaluating the school's social medicine curriculum. After graduation, Timothy will begin my pediatrics residency at the University of Michigan.

  • Aisha is originally from Bolivar, TN. She graduated from Harvard University in 2018 with a degree in Chemistry and African Studies. During her time at Vanderbilt, Aisha was engaged with health equity work by serving as the Director of Mentorship for Social Mission Committee (2020-2021), Director of Patient Health Education at Shade Tree Clinic (2020-2021), and Patient Health Educator at Shade Tree Clinic (2018-2019).She was inducted into the Gold Humanism Honors Society. She will be completing her Internal Medicine-Pediatrics residency at Vanderbilt where she hopes to continue her health equity work and advocacy.

  • Somto Ukwuani is a fourth-year medical student from Gaithersburg, Maryland. At Vanderbilt, Somto served as co-president of the Social Mission committee, SNMA URM recruitment coordinator, and president of the Meharry Vanderbilt Student Alliance. Additionally, she was a member of the Racial Equity Task Force Subcommittee on the recruitment and retention of learners and devoted much of her time in medical school to these efforts through Admissions Committee, VUSM Ambassadors, and Second Look Weekend leadership. Somto is excited to pursue a career in pediatric medicine and has interest in medical education. She believes the way we choose to teach and evaluate physicians in training reveals our values and plans for her career involve continually asking how our system is preparing people to serve vulnerable populations.

2021 - Inaugural Class

  • During her time at Vanderbilt, Annie was engaged with health equity work by serving as the Director of Community Outreach of Shade Tree Clinic (2019-2020), Director of Mentorship of the Social Mission Committee (2019-2020), President of Physicians for Human Rights (2018-2020), and as a student leader of the Social Medicine Consortium's Campaign Against Racism - Nashville Chapter (2018-2021). She was inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society and received awards for her research in interdisciplinary quality improvement and community vaccination efforts at the Collaboration Across Borders and Community Health Leadership Conferences. She was also a recipient of the VUMC Martin Luther King Jr. Award for work in eliminating race-based eGFR reporting at Vanderbilt. She hopes to focus on advocacy and community engagement to address health disparities within women's health in her future career as an OBGYN. 

  • Pauleatha Diggs is a fourth-year medical student at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (VUSM). She discovered an interest in blending the principles of community service and research together through community-based participatory research after completing a master's degree in Biotechnology followed by working for a nonprofit organization during her gap years before medical school. As a medical student, she held several leadership roles with the Student National Medical Association and also served as the Director of Research for VUSM's Social Mission Committee. She will be completing her Dermatology residency at Vanderbilt, where she plans to focus on cutaneous diseases that more frequently and more severely affect underserved populations.
  • At Vanderbilt, Will has been engaged in the Social Mission Committee, an organization dedicated to improving social medicine experiences at the School of Medicine. He will be starting as a urology resident at Vanderbilt.
  • Demetra was thrilled to be able to take part in the Health Equity Certificate program. As a medical student, she has been involved in the Student-Led Initiative for Disability Education and served as a Co-Director of the Shade Tree Clinic Gynecology clinic. She also completed a research year as a Burroughs Wellcome Fund SCRIPS scholar, studying inflammation and social stress in ovarian cancer, and was inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha and the Gold Humanism Honor Society. She is excited to pursue training in Obstetrics and Gynecology and hopes to serve as an advocate for her patients, providing person-centered care while pushing for greater health equity through legislative advocacy and research.
  • I was lucky to have many opportunities to engage in health equity work at VUSM. I served as the Director of Strategy of the Social Mission Committee, was a Co-Chair of the VUSM/VUMC Racial Equity Task Force, and was involved with the elimination of the race coefficient in calculating eGFR at Vanderbilt. I also had the opportunity to serve at Shade Tree Clinic all four years, starting as a volunteer social worker and then taking a leadership role as the Co-Director of the Gynecology Clinic. I'm excited to continue engaging with health equity and advocacy at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where I will be completing my residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology.
  • Katherine Kelly is a graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine who completed the Certificate in Health Equity. She is pursuing a career in neurosurgery and hopes to incorporate clinical outcomes research in socioeconomic health disparities into her career. In pursuit of this interest, she traveled to Zambia during medical school to work with the local neurosurgical team and has published on many topics surrounding health disparities, including those related to traumatic brain injury, hydrocephalus, craniosynostosis and Chiari Malformation, among others.
  • During my time at VUSM, I was involved in curriculum development of the Foundations of Health Equity I (FHE I) evening elective. I was involved in the student organization, Social Mission Committee, as the Director of Service, and served in that role for one academic year. Additionally, I had the opportunity to conduct various research projects studying social determinants of health factors on post-operative outcomes in head & neck surgery patients. I am planning to start residency in otolaryngology-head & neck surgery this summer, and am so grateful for the enriching educational experiences VUSM has brought me.
  • Mollie is originally from Portland, Oregon. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2016 with degrees in Sociology and Spanish. At Vanderbilt, Mollie worked as a social worker and clinical student at Shade Tree Clinic. She helped establish the Social Mission Committee (SMC) and served as co-president of the SMC during her 3rd year. In this role, she worked to advance health equity at VUSM through education, service, mentorship, research and recruitment initiatives. She helped develop a formal curriculum on transgender health and hormone therapy, and completed a yearlong research project focused on physician-level barriers that drive disparities in transgender health. As a 4th year student, Mollie was named a 2020 Pisacano Scholar by the Pisacano Leadership Foundation of the American Board of Family Medicine. She was one of only six students in the U.S. to be awarded the Pisacano scholarship this year. She is a member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society and Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society. Mollie looks forward to beginning her residency training in family medicine. Her ultimate goal is to become a primary care provider for patients from marginalized communities, as well as an advocate who works to transform systems that harm vulnerable groups.
  • Eva Niklinska is a 4th year medical student who recently matched into a dermatology residency at Vanderbilt. She is passionate about immigrant health and pediatric dermatology. While at Vanderbilt, she engaged in health equity work through her leadership positions at Shade Tree. After volunteering in both preclinical / clinical positions during her M1-M2 years, she served as the director of Patient Health Education in her third year. In this role, she led 15 first-year medical students in coordinating care for some of Shade Tree's most complex patients. Additionally, she served as a co-director of the 2020 Shade Tree Trot, one of Shade Tree's large fundraisers. Throughout her fourth year, she has continued to stay involved in Shade Tree as a clinical student and through coordinating patient COVID-19 vaccines. Outside of Shade Tree, Eva was also involved in implementing a course in the OBGYN clerkship to educate students on how to recognize and compassionately care for victims of sexual assault and intimate partner violence. She is grateful to stay at Vanderbilt for another four years and to serve for the community she calls home!
  • While at Vanderbilt, Michael was engaged in health equity through mentorship programs, advocacy, and research. He is passionate about moving the biomedical field towards justice by centering equity both in recruitment and research. Michael is an MD/PhD graduate, and he will continue his training in internal medicine with a goal of practicing, advocating, and pursuing scientific advances at the intersection of inflammation and health inequities in cardiovascular disease.
  • I completed my research immersion experience studying postpartum depression in Hispanic women in Nashville. My results found that presence of healthcare coverage at 2 months postpartum was associated with a statistically significantly higher chance of having a reduction in depressive symptoms. I also am currently conducting phone interviews with those who have completed the RCT to understand their experience of participating in the study. I have been closely involved with the Shade Tree Clinic, as a Spanish Interpreter, Co-Director of the Early Pregnancy Clinic, and as a Spanish Acute Care Coordinator.    I applied into internal medicine residency and am undecided as to whether or not I will subspecialize. Regardless, I plan to work in medical education either with medical students or residents, and also would like to continue my involvement in global health and local care of underserved populations. I thank the Office of Health Equity for the opportunity to educate myself in these critical issues so early in my career!
  • Petria Thompson served as the Region X director for the Student National Medical Association. In this role, she spearheaded initiatives to fill increase awareness of health equity via educational programming and direct-service. She is a recipient of the Levi Watkins Jr., M.D. Award and a member of GHHS and AOA. Petria will begin a preliminary medicine year at St. Mary's Medical Center in San Francisco, followed by a Radiation Oncology residency at UCSF. She hopes to combine her basic science expertise with her interest in health equity.
  • Michelle is a member of the Vanderbilt SOM Class of 2021. After growing up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, she moved down to Atlanta, Georgia to complete her undergraduate studies at Emory University. There she studied Biology and Sociology, which established her interest in the intersection between social factors and health. After joining the VU SOM community in 2017, Michelle dedicated much of her time to Shade Tree Clinic, where she served as a social worker, Director of Social Work, clinical volunteer, and Board of Advisors member. She also completed a medical education research project under the mentorship of Dean Amy Fleming, which focused on developing and studying the impact of a student-led bystander training curriculum that aimed to empower medical students to respond to bias and microaggressions. Michelle is excited to begin her residency training in internal medicine. She plans to pursue a career in general internal medicine with a focus on delivering primary care to underserved patient populations and advocating for health policy changes to improve health equity. She also hopes to continue developing her passions in medical education.