COMET Alumni

Class of 2019

Andrea Levchuk

Hello! I am from Minnesota but have lived in the Bay Area since 2010. I first moved here to provide care for my niece as she recovered from spinal meningitis. Helping with her activities of daily living and endless therapy inspired me to study speech-language-hearing sciences at the University of Minnesota.

After learning Spanish in Guadalajara and then dabbling in the tech industry, I made a plan to develop my career as a healthcare professional. I took a medical assisting course and started scribing for a physician as an entry point to a clinical setting. After observing the dynamics of different clinician-patient relationships, I became interested in NP and PA roles for their ability to bring quality healthcare to underserved populations.

The COMET Fellowship presents an amazing opportunity to learn from faculty mentors. My biggest wish for this experience is to get involved and participate in research. While I would love to jump on board with any active study, I am personally interested in exploring alternative healthcare delivery models and topical absorption of lipid-soluble vitamins.

My extra-curricular interests include global warming and conservation. If I could visit any place in the world, I would kayak Lake Baikal. My favorite hobbies are running 5 & 10k races, browsing floor plans of tiny houses, and trying new foods. On the weekends, my family and I explore Mountain View by foot and on bike trails.

Cathina Nguyen

Hello –  I am extremely excited to by joining the Class of 2018-2019 COMET Fellows!  This unique learning opportunity will help me achieve my goal of becoming the best family nurse practitioner that I can be.  I look forward to working as part of a team to makes individuals healthier and happier.

I am an East Coast native slowly making her way west in pursuit of knowledge!  During my undergraduate education, I double majored in History & Philosophy of Science and Psychology. Interested in learning more about health inequities and making an impact at a community level, I moved to California to pursue a Master in Public Health at UC Davis.  My thesis was on barriers that families of children with autism spectrum disorder face when utilizing therapeutic services. At Davis, I also joined the intramural ultimate frisbee team named “Public Stealth”!

After receiving my MPH degree, I was lucky enough to start my first real job in epidemiological research.  The work was extremely rewarding but I felt like I was still missing something.  I then remembered something that one of my professors at UC Davis told me – “I have looked at individual trees, but I felt like I needed to take a step back and look at the forest”.  I realized that after looking at many “forests”, I really missed working one-on-one with “trees”.  This prompted me to pursue a clinical health care degree and now, I am currently a Family Nurse Practitioner candidate at UCSF.  I am passionate about family medicine because I greatly enjoy caring for individuals in all walks of life and aim to take care of whole family units.  In my free time I enjoy critiquing superhero movies, learning more Disney trivia, and sweating it out in a reformer Pilates class.

Claire Godenzi

Some of my earliest memories are of growing up in Indonesia, Australia and Hawaii, where I was instilled with a love for unique cultures, people and travel. Following high school, I moved from Oahu to sunny southern California in order to pursue a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Chapman University.

Throughout my undergraduate career, I submersed myself within the field of medicine, taking on meaningful opportunities to further my passion for healthcare. During each summer break, I gained exposure to pediatrics as a lead intern in the Children’s Hospital of Orange County’s MI3 program. As a result, I discovered my zeal for working with families and furthering innovation in pediatric care. Pairing my love for children with my passion for global health, I led students on various medical mission trips throughout Asia as the leader of a small nonprofit organization. This experience opened my eyes to the true power of medicine, and the need for sustainable advances in healthcare within developing countries around the globe. For years, I have also worked as a Research and Development intern at AIVITA Biomedical, assisting in the implementation of their active Phase II clinical trial of a dendritic-cell based immunotherapy. Altogether, this experience allowed me to realize my passion for clinical research and ongoing scientific exploration.

Following graduation, I am exceptionally excited to bring my unique story, interests and passion to the COMET fellowship. Through this opportunity, I hope to learn all I can from the outstanding faculty mentors of Stanford University’s School of Medicine, in hopes of gaining invaluable knowledge that will better my ability to care for patients as a future pediatrician or family practice physician. 

Daniel Feygin

Hi there! I was born in St. Petersburg, Russia and raised in San Jose, California. My curiosity for medicine developed after I suffered a Spontaneous Pneumothorax (Collapsed Lung) at the age of 16 which lead to multiple surgeries and numerous hospitalizations. After experiencing the Pneumothorax I developed acute panic attacks and anxiety symptoms which sparked my interest in Neurology/Psychiatry. After graduating from UC Berkeley in 2015 with a degree in Psychology I started a Post-Baccalaureate program at CSUEB where I took both prerequisite and upper division science courses. During my time at CSUEB I was involved in a plant biology research lab focusing on RNA Sequencing and gene editing tools like CRISPR-Cas9. We used these methods to investigate how a model plant, White Lupin, is able to survive and thrive in nutrition deficient soil, primarily Phosphorous deficiency. During the summer of 2017, I was able to travel with CSUEB Global Brigades to Nicaragua to provide medical/dental services to the underserved and rural communities of Esteli. Being able to check vital signs, distribute medications, and provide educational workshops to children on the importance of dental hygiene reinforced my passion for the medical field. Currently, I volunteer at Stanford’s PANS Clinic as a chart reviewer. PANS stands for (Pediatric Acute NeuroPsychiatric Syndrome) which is a type of Encephalopathy that typically afflicts children before the age of 10 and leads to impairments and difficulties in cognitive, emotional and social processing. As a COMET fellow, I look forward to working with both doctors and fellow scribes to provide patients with the best healthcare experience possible. In my free time I enjoy traveling and exploring different countries, cultures, and their unique cuisines!

Gabriela Vargas

I was born in Mexico City, but have lived in San Jose from the age of six. I recently obtained my bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences as well as a minor in chemistry at Cal State Stanislaus. I enjoy running, cooking, and hiking during my free time.

From a very young age, I always dreamt of becoming a healthcare practitioner. My personal experiences growing up and the struggles my family faced when trying to obtain affordable and reliable healthcare only reinforced my willingness to pursue such career path. Growing up soccer was my passion and thanks to that I was able to get myself through college. Unfortunately, towards the end of my freshman year, I tore my ACL during a match and went through two different knee surgeries to reconstruct the damage done. This injury was a major event in my life at the time and during the process of healing, as a patient, I sincerely learned to appreciate all that healthcare providers really do for people. Thanks to the surgeons, physical therapist, and nurses that cared for me, I was able to complete all of my collegiate careers and played three more years after the incident.

I am ecstatic about participating in the COMET program and look forward to working alongside Stanford professionals and learning as much as possible. My ultimate goal is to become a physician’s assistant and be able to provide excellent patient care for less fortunate communities.

Jacqueline Masehi-Lano

 My healthcare journey began with an interest in bioengineering research. As an undergraduate at Caltech, I helped develop a biological “band-aid” for corneal wound-healing and worked with engineered heart tissues to study cardiac genetic defects. I was excited about performing quality research, but even more motivated by the results that could have a lasting impact.

To explore my interest in medicine, I worked alongside health professionals in providing direct patient care as a COPE Health Scholar. My desire to share my knowledge led me to become COPE’s Assistant Director of Training, where I empowered trainees with having the skills needed to thrive in the fast-paced setting of the hospital. Being part of the patient care experience solidified my desire to become a physician, because even in the most challenging times, they remain compassionate as ever. I aspire to be a part of the process of helping families make decisions that ultimately bring them closer together. I am excited to immerse myself in the world of physicians through the COMET fellowship, where I hope to learn what it means to be the best advocate for my future patients.

In my spare time, I enjoy playing with my three dogs, photography, and trying new food places. At Caltech, I was involved in the swimming team and was able to break 10 school records. Although I no longer swim competitively, this hasn’t stopped me from jumping in the pool whenever I can and I remain active in my lifelong love for the sport.

Jason Leddy

As the first person in my family to study science, I always wondered why I was an outlier. I grew up surrounded by journalists, lawyers, art historians, and writers. But no scientists. Did I miss some genetic memo about my life purpose? Did my parents play me more Carl Sagan tapes as an infant than Mozart? What I do know is there isn’t one singular moment that inspired me to become a doctor. My interest in medicine built over time. It started with a love of learning practical skills – from tying knots to fixing cars – and grew into a curiosity about plants, dinosaurs, and infectious diseases. I just thought science was cool.

While I grew up in Silicon Valley surrounded by tech, my love of applied science has led me to want to study medicine. I majored in winemaking at UC Davis because I enjoyed using what I learned in classes, in the labs and out in the fields to better understand how biology, chemistry, engineering and physics connect in complex systems – namely, the vineyard and winery. That approach helped me succeed as an honors student and orthopedic research assistant at the UC Davis Medical Center, where I became fascinated in another complex system, the human body.

As a COMET fellow, I’m excited to learn practical skills that will make me a thoughtful medical student and capable physician. When I’m not reading mystery novels or listening to flamenco jazz, I enjoy hiking and playing with my dog.

Jinhee (Lizzie) Kim

Hello! I grew up in the Bay area and graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2016 with a B.A. in Behavioral Biology. My interest in science and medicine stems from when I discovered that I loved to cook- only for me, this hobby was less culinary and more scientific. I experimented with different ingredients and analyzed their effects on my diabetic dad's blood glucose levels. Discovering which foods had the smallest effect on my dad's blood glucose levels was rewarding and this experience helped develop my passion for scientific experimentation and improving well-being.

During my undergraduate years, I was an art volunteer at various hospitals and had the opportunity to interact with various patients with different medical conditions. Bringing joy to a solemn hospital setting through art was exciting and I desired to continue to make a positive impact on patients. After graduating from college, I was eager to start gaining first-hand experience in the medical field and decided to work as a healthcare consultant. Interestingly, I found that I got the most satisfaction not by meeting my company's metrics, but when I saw that my work allowed physicians to spend more time collaborating and optimizing their patient care. This confirmed that helping and providing the best care to patients is my one true unwavering passion.

As a COMET fellow, I am eager to work alongside Stanford medical staff and to commit my time and energy to be challenged by the responsibilities that come with working in healthcare. During my free time, I like to go on runs, visit new coffee shops, and spend time with my family.

Jon Schulze

Hello! I’m Jon, this spring I will be graduating from USC with a B.S. in Human Biology - Biomedical Sciences Track and a minor in Development Economics. I grew up outside of Philly but was born in Zurich, and now I enjoy living in California. When I was a young teen, I was diagnosed with generalized epilepsy - now thoroughly controlled. My experience navigating the medical system so young built a passion in me to make that process easier for everyone else, which is one of the reasons why I want to become a physician. My hope is that COMET will grow my understanding of every nook of the medical field.

Some of my interests in healthcare pertain to healthcare access and quality in the developing world. This was fostered by my time working at The Lake Clinic in Cambodia and Lao Friends Hospital for Children in Laos, where I got to experience frontline health development up close. I also have an interest in neurologic pediatric care, and have done stints at Children’s Hospital LA in both neurosurgery and neurology.

Aside from professional aspirations, I love to cook, and surprisingly I’ve become quite good at it. From grilling to pan frying to accidentally burning all the ingredients I claim to be able to do it all. Oddly when I try something new it comes out edible more times than not! Outside of the home I really enjoy scuba and exploring the sprawling LA comedy scene.

Khushboo Jani

From an early age, I recognized that the state of our health deeply impacts our lives both physically and emotionally.  As I grew older, I quickly realized that to maintain health, it’s critical to be able to communicate about it—whether it’s with family or health professionals. Understanding the implications of quality healthcare communication, especially in multicultural communities, ignited my interest in pursuing the pre-medical path during my undergraduate studies. Due to my specific interest in the brain and human behavior, I pursued a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with an emphasis in Biology and a minor in Neuroscience from UC Davis. In addition to this coursework, I participated in a variety of extracurricular activities to gain invaluable experience in both research and clinical settings. As a Research Assistant in a Memory and Development Lab, I collected and analyzed data on a study about developmental metamemory. Through my roles of both a member and a Health Education Coordinator in the Bhagat Puran Singh Health Initiative, an organization that provides free health clinics to the uninsured and underprivileged South Asian and Sikh populations, I got the opportunity to be part of a team of highly motivated individuals and provide culturally appropriate healthcare services.

 Through these, and various other volunteering experiences, I’ve strived to gain the knowledge and experiences to best prepare myself for a career in the health professions. With COMET, I hope to continue this preparation and further expand my understanding of the healthcare field.

Moriah Montes

Hello! I was born and raised in the Bay Area. I grew up in Gilroy, California, but moved to Santa Clara to complete my undergraduate degree. I will be graduating from Santa Clara University with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Health Science. Throughout my undergraduate career, I volunteered with Stanford Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital with the Child Life Department at the Sunnyvale clinic, where I entertained patients meanwhile they waited to be called in for their appointments. I also volunteered at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in San Jose to immerse myself in the healthcare field. Apart from my volunteering opportunities, I had the privilege of completing an international internship in Bali, Indonesia, where I taught healthcare to the elementary schools in small villages.

Apart from volunteering, I enjoy playing the violin on my free time. As an undergrad, I was a part of the University Orchestra and a mariachi band.

As a COMET fellow, I hope to obtain a well-rounded hands-on experience in the healthcare field by working directly with physicians and other healthcare professionals. In addition, I hope to attain important patient care skills that will assist me as an aspiring Nurse Practitioner. As a fellow, I look forward to learning about providing quality care, while incorporating preventative medicine. I am excited to be a part of Stanford’s medical scribe program!

Nawang Sherpa

Growing up in the Himalayan region of Nepal, I had never imagined about moving to the States, let alone going to college or pursuing a career in health care. Upon moving to California and enrolling as a sophomore in Sonoma Valley High School SVHS) I was still unsure, which is why upon graduation I decided to attend Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC). One thing I was sure about was my interest in science. The education system in Nepal integrates the different branches of sciences in the same textbook. I learned about the solar system in astronomy while identifying the different components of the cell in biology; I learned to draw the atomic orbitals of atoms in chemistry while trying to understand the concept of inertia in physics. The integrative approach of Nepal gave me a panoramic view of the various branches of science and allowed me to approach each in a unique way, understanding how they interact and come together to support the life we know. I was able to further expand that knowledge in SVHS. Upon completing my lower division courses, I transferred to UC Berkeley (Cal) and I am currently in the process of getting my Bachelors’ degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Upon transferring to Cal I had the opportunity to get involved with molecular biology research focused on mRNA translation and regulation of translation. Our goal is to understand the underlying mechanism of stress granules formation which affects global translation and can be an underlying cause of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. I was also involved with a Global Medical Training (GMT), an on-campus medical organization that emphasizes on public health. I started as a general member and was very interested with the work that GMT did in the local community and abroad so I applied for a leadership position my second semester and eventually ran for executive position as a President of the club for 2017-2018 academic year.

I also attended two medical missions to Panama and Dominican Republic through GMT. The medical trip was an eye-opening experience as it gave us a different lens to view medicine from and was also emphasized the importance of global health and preventative care. We shadowed under the supervision of trained health professionals from the respective countries and had the opportunity to serve many impoverished communities that lacked direct health care. It’s an experience that will remain with me forever. At the end of the day our differences were redundant, we were all under the same roof; one to seek health and one to learn from.

One thing I’ve lacked in my career as a student is a mentor, so one major thing I hope to get out of this fellowship is mentorship. As a COMET fellow, I am excited to expand my clinical knowledge through interactions with my mentor and other fellows. On my spare time, I enjoy playing/watching basketball, hiking and learning new languages.

Nicole Zamignani

Hello! I was born in Los Angeles and recently graduated with a B.S. in Physiology from San Francisco State University. Through my experiences, I’ve developed leadership and communication skills that I now use to help others build self-confidence and feel empowered to become leaders of their own communities. My passion is to promote health and wellness as I am a strong believer that a healthy mind and body increases our creativity, productivity and overall happiness.

While interning at the educational non-profit Planet Bee Foundation, I learned how to effectively educate young age groups by inspiring environmental stewardship and individual action. I also volunteered on a medical brigade to an under resourced community in Panama setting up mobile clinics, providing preventative health workshops, and working alongside locals to implement sustainable health systems. Most recently, I worked as a tutor and teen leadership advisor at a Salvation Army Youth Center in Downtown Los Angeles aimed towards guiding and mentoring youth of the community.

I aspire to be a pediatrician to empower, inspire and educate the next generation to create healthy habits for themselves. My goal is to continue outreach in underserved communities, creating long lasting positive impacts on its members and working towards diminishing health disparities. COMET will give me the unique opportunity to understand how compassionate and personal relationships are created between physicians and patients. I hope to gain insight on providing quality patient care and to make meaningful contributions to the profession.

Sheel Vaniawala

Hello! I am Sheel Vaniawala and I live in Grand Blanc, Michigan. This May 2018, I will be a Michigan State University graduate with a Human Biology major.

I grew up watching the smiles both my parents brought to patients and their families as Pediatricians; hence becoming a physician was a natural inclination. In pursuit of my future career, I job-shadowed a Pediatric Surgeon in Flint. I also volunteered for 2 weeks at a Government Hospital in India where I experienced new challenges in resource-limited settings. As a result of these experiences, I realized how fortunate I am to be living in such a resource-rich country. My appreciation and newfound understanding paved the path to my dream of practicing medicine as a Doctor without borders.

I have lived in Kenya, Dubai and India, which has exposed me to the social, cultural and economic diversities in various parts of the world. As I grew up, I overcame cultural and language barriers that helped me in becoming a compassionate and empathetic person. I enjoy dancing and I have a Bachelor’s degree in the Indian classical form of dance (Kathak). I love meeting new people, trying out different cuisines, reading, and traveling.

I am excited to be a part of this COMET Fellowship Program that will broaden my experience and passion for my aspirations. I am looking forward to being an integral part of the team and working alongside physicians to gain insight as a medical scribe in this ever changing field of medicine.

Shiwei Sun

Hi! I was originally born and raised in Tianjin China, and I moved to the Bay area with my father when I was 16. Upon finishing high school, I was fortunate to obtain a unique experience and was brought onto a 5-year adventurous journey with the U.S Navy. The military was a place that empowered accelerated personal growth. Besides self-discipline, time management and leadership skills, I had also made many valuable lifetime friends.

I loved helping people in need and was always inspired by new medical related knowledge. After being honorably discharged from the Navy, I was thrilled to be back in school to pursue my medical dream. I finished my undergraduate education in Human Biology at University of California San Diego. Besides research and class time, I also enjoyed volunteering at the Veteran Affairs Medical Center emergency department. I believe the best patient care is not limited to professional medical skills, but also being compassionate and caring for the mental and emotional wellbeing of the patients. I am passionate and eager to become a doctor who can advocate for patients and make them feel heard and respected.

Participating in the COMET program would grant me the critical set of tools to facilitate my ambition. I look forward to working alongside experienced physicians and to be inspired by their expertise. In my leisure time, I enjoy playing with my two adorable golden retrievers. Their love and companionship are the best remedies to relieve my stress.

Sophia (Takemi) Kawamoto

I recently graduated from Carleton College in Northfield, MN in the spring of 2018, where I studied biology with a focus on ecology. While I have enjoyed my coursework and field research, my true passion lies in working with people. In the past few years, I’ve applied my study of biology to environmental education as a Cole Student Naturalist at Carleton College, an education coordinator at the Ceiba Foundation in Ecuador, and as an outreach intern at Groundswell Coastal Ecology in Santa Cruz, CA.

I am excited to apply my passion for communicating science to healthcare. I hope to pursue an M.D. and go into the field of women’s health. As a volunteer medical interpreter with a community health clinic in Northfield, Minnesota, I worked closely with physicians, nurses, and other staff and helped provide healthcare to underserved communities. I believe that as a COMET fellow will expose me to incredible physicians who both treat complex medical problems and recognize gender, racial, and class barriers to all people receiving equal care.

Touran Fardeen

Hello! I’m a California native, and I just graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Integrative Biology. My interest in healthcare was sparked at fifteen when my father was diagnosed with systemic lupus. Despite the trying aspects of his illness, I was inspired by the way teams of physicians collaborated to keep my father alive, and it expanded my interest in using coordinated holistic care to treat chronic disease.

As an undergraduate, I spent my time outside of class shadowing physicians in southern California and volunteering as a Health Advocate of Alameda Health System in Bay Area hospitals. These experiences clarified my ambition to be a physician, gave me multiple perspectives on health care, and instilled in me a thorough understanding of the challenges and solutions involved with aiding patients.

Ultimately, I aspire to be a physician who integrates knowledge of the social determinants of health into my approach to treating disease. The resources, opportunity, and experiences the COMET fellowship offers will teach me how to integrate a holistic, preventative approach that I believe will promote lasting health and provide my future patients with the best quality of medical care.

Trinidad Alcala-Arcos

I’m originally from Mexico City but moved to Sacramento with my family at the age of six. My interest in medicine stemmed from navigating a complex healthcare system and serving as the sole translator for my family at a young age.

While at UC Davis, I volunteered at Joan Viteri Memorial Clinic, a student-run clinic down the street from where I grew up, with the intent to serve my community and give back to a clinic that served low-income, uninsured families like mine who were often deterred from accessing healthcare for various socioeconomic factors.

Additionally, I volunteered at Harm Reduction Services, a syringe-exchange program providing vital public health services. At HRS I participated in the mobile outreach program where I was exposed to a high prevalence of STIs such as HIV/AIDS. This inspired me to join the NorCal AIDS Cycle, dedicated to raising funds for beneficiaries in Northern California offering services to folks living with HIV/AIDS. I cycled over 900 miles for NCAC in a span of 3 years with the commitment to ride so that others can survive.

Upon completion of my B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, I worked as an Assistant Clinical Research Coordinator for the CHARGE Study at the UCD MIND Institute. While I was fortunate to learn about clinical research methodologies and about different risk factors in Autism, I’m ready to delve into the COMET Fellowship to develop skills that will aid me in my career as an aspiring primary care physician.