COMET Fellows

Class of 2020

Al Gourrier Jr.

Hello! My name is Al Gourrier Jr. (AJ) and I’m from Las Vegas, Nevada. I attended Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Neuroscience and Psychology with an Anthropology minor. My liberal arts education and research experiences led me to a career in healthcare. I studied at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad Copenhagen in the spring of 2018. While there, I completed a European Clinical Psychology Practicum in which I attended a social psychiatry café, called Muhabet. The café is a safe place for marginalized refugees and immigrants who have mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia. Many of the guests who attended Muhabet were traumatized from war and also suffered from PTSD.  

I helped care for the guests and our social interactions aided their recovery by combating their loneliness and reducing their sense of isolation and stigmatization – conditions that can arise from both mental illness and immigrant status. My experience at Muhabet was more powerful than any other work I had ever done and sparked my interest in clinical observations. As a COMET Fellow, I look forward to gaining extensive clinical observation and an opportunity to expand my passion for patient care through direct transcription. I am passionate about connecting people with quality medical resources and I am eager, in my medical work, to be a figure in whom a patient can find strength and warmth.

Albino Folcarelli

Hi, my name is Albino Folcarelli and I am a native Rhode Islander. I recently graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in Biochemistry and minor in Psychology. In addition to my coursework, I also conducted neurobiological research at Columbia University Medical Center, and clinical psychiatric research at Harvard’s Lab for Youth Mental Health. Some highlights of my undergraduate experience were participating in medical volunteer trips to Nicaragua and becoming fluent in Spanish through studying abroad in Costa Rica and Ecuador.

My interest in medicine is rooted in my passion for helping children and families to be healthy and strong, particularly those that struggle with dysfunction. To that end, I plan to become a family practitioner and to specialize in pediatrics and child/adolescent psychiatry. I believe that this combination of training will enhance the scope of treatment that I can provide and allow for a more holistic perspective on family issues.

The COMET Fellowship’s focus on primary care and its structure as an immersive clinical experience, make it uniquely suited to prepare me for treating families as a primary care physician. I am thrilled by the opportunity to contribute to and be shaped by Stanford’s exceptional healthcare system.

In my free time I enjoy traveling, refurbishing vintage shoes and spending time exploring the Bay Area with my fiancé, Brilynn.

Alex Hernandez

I am originally from a small predominantly Latino community in Eastern Oregon. Growing up in a small rural town made me aware of the lack of Hispanic professionals in the medical field. Seeing this underrepresentation motivates me to pursue a carrier in medicine.

 I graduated from the University of Washington in 2013 where I obtained my General Biology degree. During my undergraduate years I had the pleasure of being part of Chicanos/Latinos for Community Medicine (CCM), a student group devoted to increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in healthcare and improving health outcomes in disadvantaged populations through education and activism. Through CCM I had the opportunity to serve underprivileged communities and Seattle’s homeless population.

Soon after graduating from the University of Washington I moved to Oakland California; where I started working at Every Women Counts (a women’s cancer detection clinic). Throughout this experience, I had the opportunity to interact and assist Spanish-speaking community members who lived below the poverty line. This experience served as a personal reminder for me to purse my medical career with the goal of someday assisting Spanish-speaking communities. Furthermore, I am excited to be a part of this COMET fellowship and I am looking forward to interact with physicians and peers that are passionate about healthcare.

Alexis Mendez

Hi! I’m Lexi- I was raised in Sacramento but have been living in San Francisco for the past 6 years. I am so excited to be apart of the COMET team where I will be expanding my knowledge and experience in research and clinical settings. In my spare time, I enjoy exercising, dancing, and traveling.

Surprisingly , my motivation towards becoming a doctor came later in my life as I continued to pursue my education. Being the first person in my family to graduate college I would have never dreamt that I would be working towards an MD degree. All my life I have always been a nurturing person and have always took an interest to people's mental health and overall quality of life. This led me to pursue a BA degree in psychology where I fell in love with the feeling of helping others and making a positive impact on their life. After completing my undergrad at San Francisco State, I continued my education through the SF State Post Baccalaureate program and through UC Berkeley Extension classes. During this time I volunteered with numerous programs while working as a medical scribe and medication manager. It was these experiences that ignited an undying passion for medicine particularly in underserved communities.

Upon completion of the COMET fellowship, I will continue to pursue my dream of becoming a dermatologist.  I hope that I will have the opportunity to travel around the world and volunteer my services to those who cannot afford to receive the care that they need. I am excited to grow and learn from the mentors of Stanford University’s School of Medicine and gain invaluable knowledge that will help me improve patient care and quality of life as a dermatologist.

Ashmita Chakraborty

I realized pretty early on that a career in medicine was the only thing I could envision myself doing and loving for the rest of my life, so coming into college at UC Davis, I decided to dive right in and chose to major in Neurobiology, Physiology, & Behavior. Through my active involvement with the undergraduate American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA), along with a student-run clinic that serves the homeless population of Sacramento, and my university’s Health Education and Promotion department, I developed a deep passion for healthcare, health education, and advocacy. I consider my involvement in these activities as a definite confirmation for my decision to pursue medicine as a career.

Beyond my academic and extracurricular pursuits, I love reading (Harry Potter fans… I’m a proud Slytherin), learning about new cultures (linguistically and gastronomically), spending time with friends, and following inspiring doctors on Instagram.

I’m incredibly excited to be joining COMET as a scribe-fellow, and am looking forward to the opportunities I’ll receive to continue growing as a future health professional. I’m lucky to have the privileges of immersing myself in a hospital environment, learning the intricacies and the importance of the patient-physician relationship, and learning how to provide care in a sensitive, culturally-competent, and respectful manner – all in one of the most respected healthcare systems in the world.

Christina Briones

Hello! I’m from the Bay Area but have spent the last four years at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. I will be graduating May 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. I’ve spent my undergraduate career working in student government by creating events and designing marketing material to encourage all students to find their place on campus. This past year, I co-founded the Gonzaga Science Scholars so that we could make a stronger presence on campus. This was done to allow us to create a more diverse and supportive community within our science building. These experiences have taught me how to communicate and understand the different identities that each individual hold.

My time at Gonzaga has taught me to think critically about how my degree will be able to help others and what I want to do in the future. I have been blessed to have grown up surrounded by medicine because of my dad. From these experiences I have learned that I want to go into medicine so that I can help on a personalized individual level.

I hope that the COMET Fellowship will give me the space to grow and learn within healthcare. In addition to getting hands on experience, I hope to better understand and witness the experiences of healthcare. I hope to receive guidance to help me toward my goal of becoming a physician assistant one day. I’m very excited to be a part of this year’s cohort and look forward to the next year!

Claire Wang

Hi there! My name is Claire Wang, and I am from San Jose, California. I recently graduated from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) with a B.S. in Psychology. Prior to CMU, I was a three-time member and former Team Captain of the US National Team for Synchronized Swimming. As Lead Coach and Board Member the past three years for Synchro AWD (Synchronized Swimming for Athletes with Disabilities), I have had the opportunity and experience of helping children and adults gain both exercise and therapy for their disability, while inspiring them to love the sport. Working with athletes with physical and cognitive disabilities is a cause I intend to make a lifelong passion. My passion for service has led me to want to become a physician. 

In addition, I was a research assistant in the Infant Cognition Lab in Pittsburgh, where I analyzed and curated data on infant cognition. I also attended a summer internship at the Department of Translational Medicine at Stanford University, where I researched the similar molecular pathways between placental diseases and cancer. 

The COMET fellowship really captures my attention because it is the best opportunity for me to learn the tools, techniques and protocols in working alongside physicians and the healthcare team. In my free time, I enjoy swimming, trying new ice cream flavors, exercising, and traveling!

Cody Greene

I am originally from Preston, Georgia a small town in the rural south-west part of the state. I completed my undergraduate education at Columbus State University in 2009 and commissioned into the United States Army as an officer following graduation. Being present in a variety of situations and increasing roles of responsibility was influential in not only building a sense of confidence but realizing how essential teamwork and mentorship are in achieving success. I had participated in radiological monitoring and humanitarian work in Japan during the 2011 tsunami and performed a myriad of other tasks that gave me a unique breadth of experiences. It was in the Army that I was first introduced to the field of medicine and the amazing work doctors do I was immediately interested.

After four years of service, I reached the rank of Captain, but I knew I wanted to pursue a path that would realize my growing vocational interest in medicine. I left the Army after seven years of service to follow the path to medical school. I moved to the Bay Area, which to me, represented a nexus point between institutions known for academic excellence and technological innovation.

I wanted not only clinical experience but the opportunity for research as well. I found the COMET program and knew I wanted to be a part of it. With COMET, I look forward to working with the high-quality physicians at Stanford and being at an institution known for being at the fore-front of medical innovation. 

Damini Patel

Hello! I’m a Michigan native, and recently obtained my Bachelor of Science degree in human biology last year.

My interest in medicine began after visiting my sick grandparents in India and seeing them go through many challenges just to receive subpar care. My curiosity to learn more led me to shadow the responsibilities of physicians through which I was able to learn compassion, empathy, and most importantly the satisfaction of providing optimal care. I quickly recognized these were traits I wanted to develop while pursuing my passion to help others and becoming a physician.

While in undergrad, I also volunteered at a brain injury rehab center and became a certified phlebotomist for a more hands-on clinical experience. During May 2016, I was fortunate to go on a medical mission trip to Peru where we held multiple health workshops and taught locals about sanitation and healthy living.  This experience reinforced my desire to focus on global health; thus I picked up two minors, bioethics and health promotion. Further, in 2017, I began to scribe in multiple emergency departments to observe a variety of symptoms patients present with in a fast-paced environment. In my free time, I enjoy traveling, watching movies, and shopping.

As a fellow, I am looking forward to delve into a specialty and be able to participate in research. Working alongside Stanford professionals will expand my knowledge about the ever-evolving field of medicine and help me develop the necessary skills to provide exceptional care in all communities.

Desiree Guzman

Hello! I am currently a senior at Notre Dame de Namur University, majoring in Biological Sciences. Upon graduation, I will be the first of my immediate family, and the first of 10 grandchildren to earn a college degree.

After my own battle with cancer I found my true passion, healthcare. My goal is to help people going through what I have been through. It is truly amazing how one event can forever change the outcome of your life. I never imagined that this would be my path. Cancer has shown me that I am stronger than I have ever imagined, and I can tackle anything that comes my way. I want to inspire people to never give up; even if the task at hand seems impossible to achieve.

Currently, I work at Illumina as a laboratory aide. My main role is to help my lab run efficiently as possible. Through this position, I am able to see how healthcare is being played out behind the scenes, and how new technology and research is impacting the world of health. While I love my current position, I realized that I want to help on a more personal level, which is why I want to become a Nurse Practitioner.

I am excited to begin my journey as a COMET fellow. Through this fellowship I will be able to act as a sponge, and absorb all of the information I will need to become a successful healthcare provider.

In my free time, I enjoy spending time with friends and family. I love being outdoors and going on hikes with my dog. I also love sports: professional, or just playing a game of softball with my friends.

Duc Giao

Hi! My name is Duc and I recently graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Molecular and Cell Biology: Medical Biology and Physiology. I was born and raised in San Jose, CA and I am excited to spend the next year at Stanford as a COMET Fellow!

My interest in science and medicine stems from my childhood curiosity of the inner workings of the human body. This childhood fascination has fueled my aspiration to become a physician scientist, a career that would allow me to both explore prevalent health issues and directly treat those ill.

During my undergraduate experience, I have had the unique opportunity to work at a cardiovascular research lab at UCSF using biochemical and imaging techniques to study myocardial properties and the ventricular pressure-volume relationship in large animal models. I have also been involved in a public health research group at UCSF that focuses on community-based participatory research to address cancer screening, tobacco control, and hepatitis B to promote health and health equity in underserved Asian American populations. Aside from research, I spend my free time volunteering in the Emergency Department at a local hospital in San Jose and serve as science tutor and peer advisor for a free academic support campus organization. Outside of my work activities, I love to travel with my friends and family, play and watch basketball, and spend time outdoors.

I am excited to join COMET to learn from and work alongside the world-renowned Stanford faculty and medical professionals, collaborate with like-minded fellows and colleagues, and surround myself in an environment of creativity, compassion, and care.

Eliza Harbert

Hello! My name is Eliza Harbert and I am originally from Monterey, California. I received my B.S. degree in Psychobiology from University of California, Los Angeles in 2014. At that point, I was still pretty unsure as to what I wanted to pursue. I decided to take a break from school and take time to discover what my passions and values were, so that when I did commit to a direction it was because I knew it was something I really wanted to do. Throughout the past four years after graduation, I discovered learning about my physical, mental, and emotional health was one of my passions. I received my 200-hour yoga certification and began teaching classes. I also received my doula training in order to support women throughout pregnancy. I worked as a rehabilitation aide in an outpatient physical therapy facility. I loved the patient-care aspect of that job, however soon realized I wanted to learn more about medicine and treating people. It has been quite the journey for me of trying different avenues and directions in order to figure out what I wanted to pursue. But all throughout, it was clear to me I had a passion for helping others with their health. My ultimate goal is to pursue a Physician’s Assistant program. I wanted to gain more hands-on care experience and knew Stanford’s COMET program was the perfect fit for me. I am so excited about this amazing opportunity to work with and learn from healthcare professionals at Stanford hospital.

Elizabeth Quijada

This summer I graduated with my Bachelors in Global Health from Arizona State University. As a first generation student barriers were already put in front of me. Even more barriers were placed when I began failing in highschool. My grandpa, grandma, and father all died within a span of three years during highschool. My highschool teacher told me I would amount to nothing. You could say the odds were stacked againist me. Yet, I still kept fightning. I applied to Arizona State University and knew I would make the most of my time there, and I did. I had always had ones big dream in life and that was to attend Stanford Univeristy despite all barriers. Now being given the opportunity to take part in the COMET Fellowship, I am honored and humbled.

My career in medicine began the day my father died from a brain anuerysm . It was unpredictable, and there was no cure. One moment, he was here, and the next, he was gone. As difficult as this event was, I also knew that I wanted to help those in this world that also had to experience these unpredictable events. Through all the obstacles and barriers, I have founf an unstoppable motivation to contantly aim for the impossible, no matter what others may think. And it this type of motivation that i want to take with me in my own medical career. Whether it is finding the answer to stopping brain aneurysms, or something else, I know I will constantly aim to solve the impossible.

With the COMET Fellowship, I want to use the resources given to pursue research that aims to cure the impossible. I also want to provide my patients with the same type of motivation to never give up hope and to always keep fightning. I know firsthand what it is to want to give up, but I also know what it takes to keep fighting.

Elwyn Moir

I grew up in Australia, where I completed a B.A. in Philosophy at The University of Queensland (UQ), and Master of Mental Health (Psychotherapy) degree through UQ’s School of Medicine. Before graduating, I volunteered with Lifeline, Australia’s suicide prevention service. Later, my roles included counseling for older people experiencing domestic violence, and deployments to government declared disasters. Those experiences were an opportunity to support people who were overwhelmed, and I was enriched by their generosity and the incredible stories they shared with me during that work, for which I was awarded the National Emergency Medial in 2012.

Later, I returned to Lifeline in the privileged role of clinical supervisor, supporting the many paid and volunteer counselors in their work with over 1,000,000 Australians each year, often with lives at stake. Again, I learned as much from the smart and generous counselors I was supporting as I hope I was able to provide for them. My workplace also facilitated my own psychotherapy practice during those years, in which my capacity to provide effective support for ongoing clients benefitedfrom everything I had learned.

Therapy highlighted the relationship between physical health, social circumstances, and mental health. Isolation, stigma, cultural differences, sleep, diet – more than once, even complications from untreated podiatry issues – proved pivotal to clients’ wellbeing, as did their access to a support network of doctors and specialists. In 2016, my life reached a turning point when I married my husband and moved to San Francisco. Reflecting on my place in that network of professionals, I made the decision to retrain and pursue a career in medicine.

My master’s research explored underlying mechanisms of what actually works in psychotherapy. That question of what the evidence shows truly works, and an interest in the relationship between physical and mental health, drive my pursuit of a medical career as an effective expression of empathic concern for others. I look forward to applying that drive to my time in the Stanford COMET Fellowship.

Farheen Shaikh

Hi there! I am super excited to be joining the Class of 2019-2020 COMET Fellows! Stanford is a world-class institution and this is an outstanding opportunity to train with, learn from some of the best medical practitioners in the world!

A doctor by training, I completed my medical education in Pakistan before moving to the US 10 years ago. The field of medicine has always been close to my heart (doctors in family, sickness of close relatives), however, helping the sick has become my life-long mission after a near-death experience. My long recovery taught me patience and perseverance, grit and determination. I continued to study, take exams and did several observerships in Internal Medicine, Pulmonolgy and Cardiology to get clinical experience. I am now ready to the next phase of my career!

On a personal level, I love cooking, gardening and spending time with my family. On the weekends, you’ll often find me hiking on the trails in the East Bay.

Huma Amir

My passion for the healthcare profession became solidified as an undergraduate at Washington State University when I came across, quite by accident, a lab tech position.  Within weeks, I was fully immersed in lab animal research, performing complex surgeries in animal models.  I went on to continue work at Duke University in two separate neuroscience and behavioral research labs.  This kindled my interest in human behavior which led me to complete a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Therapy.  I completed my internship at the Duke Alcohol and Addictions program which gave me further insights into the intersection of human behavior, neuroscience and pharmacology.  Subsequently, I took up a position as a Social Worker where I worked with dual-diagnosed patients, typically a combination of mental retardation and schizophrenia.  These patients gave me experience in the specialized care and intervention needed for these patients.

I have been fortunate enough to have worked in many varying healthcare fields over the years.  Now, I have come full circle back to my original passion and hope to enter into a Physician Assistant program and integrate all the aspects of my background in research, neuroscience and mental health.  The breathtaking pace of research and innovation and emerging healthcare and disease challenges will drive the future of patient care and will require the training I am hoping and looking forward to gaining exposure to through the COMET Fellowship.

I enjoy reading, gardening, volunteering and running around with my four kids.

Jacob Less

My name is Jacob Less, and I am originally from the Bay Area. I am a recent graduate from UCLA, where I earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology. My prior experiences have allowed me the opportunity to explore my passions for serving underrepresented communities, advocating for accessible community health services, and providing quality patient care. I want to one day pursue a future career in medicine so that I can build personal and empathetic connections with others, while also innovating methods in disease prevention and holistic treatment.

During my undergraduate years, I was a social caseworker, and later Outreach Committee chairman, for the Mobile Clinic Project at UCLA. With this project, I helped medical students offer basic needs services and program outreach awareness events for the homeless population of West Hollywood. Additionally, I had the privilege to work as a peer counselor and counseling coordinator for the Filipino Community at UCLA. My three years working in higher education with my community has helped me learn more about my mixed-race identity and has furthered my vision to increase the representation of Filipinos in medicine.

I am both humbled and excited to be a part of the incoming COMET Fellowship class. I plan to further the clinical experience I have gained as a medical scribe and support the Stanford healthcare team in providing effective and collaborative patient care. It is my hope to build relationships with faculty, mentors, and my peers and discover meaningful research opportunities. I believe this program is the next step in achieving my long-term goal of becoming a physician and look forward to enhancing my perspective on the field of medicine.

Jennifer Marte Jimenez

I was born and raised in Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic and moved to the United States with my mom and brother at the age of thirteen. I recently graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biomedical Sciences. During my undergraduate years, I was fortunate to volunteer at Shepherd’s Hope, a clinic that provides free medical care to low income families and communities in the central Florida area. During my time as a volunteer here, I found my passion to work in the public health sector as a medical provider.

I went on my first medical mission in pursuit of more experience in public health with Global Medical Training (GMT). This trip was to my home country, the Dominican Republic. Throughout this mission trip, we provided free dental and medical care to more than 800 patients, and I saw firsthand the different health issues that a whole community can face due to a lack of public health resources. A couple of months after my mission trip with GMT, I was part of another medical mission trip to Cusco, Peru, this time with Medlife. While in Peru, we visited different areas in the outskirts of the Cusco region and provided medical care to more than 1000 patients. Working with local professionals and other volunteers contributed to the reasons for me to come back home and further emerge myself in the public health field.  

I am very excited to embark on this journey, and I look forward to expanding my knowledge and experiences in the medical field as a COMET fellow. Additionally, I look forward to getting to know the state of California as I transition from the east coast to the west coast of the country. My love for traveling and doing outdoor activities will, undoubtedly, make this transition more enjoyable.

Julie Moon

Hello there! I was born and raised on a tiny island known as Guam then moved to California to attend UC Irvine. I graduated from UCI in June 2018 with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Biology. I have always had an immense interest in medicine since I was a third grader, but my passion grew over the years as I researched more on what it means to be a doctor and the responsibilities that medical professionals hold.

After a series of health issues that plagued me throughout my undergraduate years, my drive towards becoming a medical doctor increased. Not only did these experiences pique my curiosity on the workings within the human body, but it also made me realize how huge an impact a compassionate doctor and nurse had on my overall well-being and recovery. It inspired me to want to become a healthcare professional who communicates with empathy during a patient’s, possibly, most difficult moment.

During my undergraduate years, I spent some time as an Emergency Room volunteer at St. Joseph Hospital of Orange and shadowing a Neurosurgeon in Guam over my summer break. These experiences instilled in me a deep appreciation and respect for all healthcare professionals, which further motivated me to continue pursuing medicine. Through the COMET Fellowship program, I hope to learn more about the healthcare field and gain a more well-rounded clinical experience by working with a plethora of new people.

Outside my aspirations of becoming a physician, I enjoy crocheting cute animals, reading psychology books, exercising at the gym, and binge watching anime and Kdrama.

Jyotsna Natarajan

Hi! My name is Jyotsna Natarajan. I graduated in March 2019from UC Davis with a B.S. in Genetics and Genomics. For as long as I have known, I wanted to work in the medical field. I believe that it started with an interest in biology and chemistry. I always had a real curiosity for how things work deep down in the body. I am fascinated by the smallest function in a cell can have a great impact on the whole body. That’s why I studied Genetics in college. I was eager to learn more about the basics of what makes up a human being and see how small changes can result in big outcomes.

What really reinforced my interest in pursuing a career in medicine was helping people in need. I was fortunate to be a part of a student run clinic on campus, Shifa Community Clinic. The clinic provides medical services the underserved population in Sacramento. With this opportunity, I was able to have the experience of working with patients and learning more about the interpersonal relationships that a physician has with their patients. I have learned more about patient care and it has strengthened my desire to help people in this capacity.  

I believe that the COMET fellowship will be a unique opportunity for me to learn more about the medical field and learn more about the typical day of a physician. I am eager to learn more about how a physician interacts with their patients and how they connect the different pieces of the physical exam to create a diagnosis. I am hoping that this opportunity provides another perspective for me in the healthcare field.

Kavya Tallapaka

Hello! While I now consider the Bay Area home, I’ve lived in many places: from India, to New England, to Southern California. I’ve just completed my bachelors in Biochemistry/Cell Biology from the University of California, San Diego.

My story in medicine thus far hasn’t been particularly glorious or unique; but it has nonetheless been impactful. Whether researching skeletal muscle myopathies, tutoring high school students, or volunteering in a variety of clinics, I prioritized commitment to those communities I served. Working in these underserved communities demonstrated the personal nature of medicine and the power of listening to someone’s story. Be it a veteran’s traumatic experiences, a deported immigrant’s harrowing journey, or an underserved student’s academic struggle, actively listening to another person’s story can be as effective as any drug.

I hope that the COMET fellowship will widen my perspectives of what healthcare can be and provide me with an understanding of supporting different dynamics of patient populations through professional-patient interactions and learn more about providing healthcare as a whole. Ultimately, I hope that this program will provide me with the experiences to bring me closer to my goal of becoming a primary care physician.

Kyle Davis

Hey! I am a native of San Diego, California, America’s Finest City! I recently moved to the Bay Area in January after graduating from The University of Montana located in Missoula, Montana. I was brought here by Stanford’s Leadership Education for Aspiring Physicians(LEAP) program where I am tasked with developing and implementing a project that will improve health outcomes in a community of my choosing. My interests include science, music, sports, and community engagement.

While at the University of Montana, I was a student athlete and played football. Although I spent the majority of my time attending to a school and football schedule, I was able to use my summers to volunteer at Community Medical Center hospital as well as serve as an intern in the cardiopulmonary rehabilitation department at St. Patrick’s hospital. I really enjoyed my time working in hospital settings and it affirmed my lifelong desire to work in the medical field. It is now my goal to immerse myself in the medical field fully now that my athletic obligations are completed. My studies in exercise science, specifically the heart’s activity while the human body is in motion gave me an interest in how we as a society can use exercise as medicine.

Through the COMET fellowship I aim to learn the day-to-day routines of doctors and other healthcare professionals. Working alongside them will be an incredible honor and a great experience as I continue my journey in the field of medicine!

Lauren Myers

I am originally from Los Angeles, California. I grew up in a small town, Inglewood, where high mass incarceration rates and low-income lifestyles were the norm. As a community college student, I started volunteering in a local hospital, and gained insight and experience that revealed the true meaning of healthcare, compassion, and being a community leader—something I always internalized. In 2013, I transferred from a community college to UCLA and pursued a B.A. in Afro-American Studies with a double minor in Evolutionary Medicine and Education. My studies fueled my curiosity and motivated me to explore historical and social circumstances of vulnerable populations. I learned how social justice and medicine combine to create a recipe for change in a community. After graduating in 2015, I learned phlebotomy and worked in transfusion medicine, an eye-opening experience that led me to volunteer in an emergency department, where the majority of blood transfusions are performed. I witnessed emergency traumas and life saving procedures in the emergency department that demonstrated the level of commitment physicians put into saving lives on a daily basis. As a current Master’s of Science student at ASU, I am conducting research on the relationship between zip codes and rates of obesity, addressing the outcomes of health disparities. COMET is an irreplaceable opportunity to gain skills of a clinical leader, while learning the language of medicine. In my spare time I love listening to music, reading, mentoring, and taking trips with family and friends!

Marcia Mata

Hello! I am a Bay Area native who is passionate about providing quality care to underserved communities. As the daughter of Salvadoran immigrants rising out of a low-income community, I have long been perplexed by the health inequities my family and those around me continue to face. While I have always been and continue to be inspired by my community’s ability to heal and prosper without access to proper medical care, we deserve better. These experiences guide me on my path to becoming a physician.

After graduating from Wesleyan University with a Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience, I became the Social Services Coordinator at Next Generation Scholars – a college-access non-profit organization for underserved students. In this position, I realized that educational achievement does not depend solely on what takes place in a classroom. When I help families tackle issues like unemployment, food insecurity and unstable housing, I am allowing my students to focus their time and energy on their studies, ensuring they are able to thrive. This has motivated me to become a physician that uses a holistic approach; one that addresses the external factors that underlie health inequalities in vulnerable communities. I wholeheartedly believe in considering a patient’s cultural needs when addressing their medical needs. As a COMET fellow, I hope to continue learning how to best advocate for my future patients and work with the Stanford medical staff to provide the best possible healthcare experience to current patients.

When I am not cooking, buried in a mystery novel or breaking a PR at the gym, I enjoy going to the beach and traveling with friends.

Melissa Chase

Hello! I am Menominee Native American; adopted from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Sonoma County, California. Middle school through early college, I grew up as a competitive volleyball player, often in and out of my primary care physician’s office for physicals and the occasional X-ray for injuries. Dr. Mark Sloan (no relation to Grey’s Anatomy), inspired my interest in medicine and was the most influential person propelling me towards deciding on a medical career.

In my time as an undergraduate, I have been blessed with a wide variety of clinical experiences. I’ve been an Atlantis Global surgical fellow in Athens, Greece where I was privileged enough to obtain over 100 hours of participation in clinical rounds in the fields of cardiology, pulmonology, family medicine, pediatrics, emergency medicine, neurology, nephrology, and orthopedics. This is my third year as Chief Scribe for a local Emergency Department, we are a STEMI/CVA center and specialize in acute care of such clinical presentations. I have additionally spent the last four years as Head T.A and student instructor for human anatomy on our campus where I teach lecture material and lead our cadaver lab.

As a COMET fellow, I am incredibly excited to work alongside Stanford medical staff and eager to learn as much as possible during my time here. In my free time, I am working towards Officer Candidate Selection for the Marine Corps- if all goes as planned I will commision as Second Lieutenant before applying to medical schools within the next year.

Neslihan Erbasi

Hello! I’m Neslihan. I was born and raised in Turkey. I have been living in the Bay Area for the last three years.

I have earned my Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry from Turkey and Spain, where I spent my junior year. My passion for getting into the medical field in the U.S. has started about 3 years ago. Since then I’ve been trying not to miss any opportunity that might help me to get there. Out of these opportunities, COMET will be the most impactful one for me and I am very excited to get started.

I grew up in a large family and was the first generation to graduate from college. However, I didn’t want to stop there and wanted to keep pursuing my medical school dream. The earliest memories that made me think of studying medicine comes from my childhood. My father passed away after a heart attack when I was six years old and ever since wondered what I could have done to prevent it. That thinking determined my pathway to eventually study medicine and devote my life to understanding and curing diseases.

In additional to school and work, I have been volunteering for the last 7 months at Stanford Hospital. When I find some free time, I hunt for Latin dance nights around Bay Area, cook with my friends, and visit new places.

Sana Siddiqui

Hello!  I was born and raised in Orange County, California and graduated from UC Irvine in the summer of 2018 with a B.S. in Biological Sciences.  Throughout my undergraduate career and in the past year, I have had the opportunity to be involved in biological research and learn from incredible professors as well as gain unique clinical experiences in order to pursue a career that values a holistic approach to medicine. 

The knowledge I have gained from volunteering at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County, shadowing physicians at the UC Irvine Medical Center, and participating at St. Joseph Hospital of Orange as a COPE Health Scholar has strengthened my desire of helping others from a medical standpoint.  Prior to these experiences, I had always aimed to combine my passion for medicine with my interest in helping others, and it was these experiences that had a profound impact in my increasing understanding of healthcare professions. 

As a COMET Fellow, I look forward to an immersive clinical experience with hands-on patient care.  I am excited to be taking part in this fellowship at Stanford, becoming an integral part of the patient care team, and learning from experienced physicians.

Yaki Alejandre

Hello! I am Yaki Alejandre and I was born in Guadalajara in Mexico and lived there until I was 10 years old. My family migrated to Ontario, California to reunite with the rest of our family and have been living there since. I attended San Jose State University and recently graduated with a degree in Public Health and minor in Nutrition and Food Science.

Throughout my life I have always been fascinated by science and knew that it was something I wanted to pursue as a career. My mom pursuing to be a nurse sparked an interest in the healthcare field since occasionally she would take me to volunteer with her. However, it wasn’t until my mom got injured at work that I truly decided to be a health professional, because the doctors did not want to treat her and simply said that it is all in her head. I learned about the different healthcare professionals in my undergraduate studies and realized that Physician Assistant and Doctor in Osteopathic medicine is what I really wanted to do. This is because throughout my life, studies, and involvement in different organizations like Peer Health Education, I have realized that a holistic perspective to health is the best approach to live healthy and happy lives.

I am beyond thrilled to be joining the COMET Fellowship and be exposed to the different specialties there are as well as working alongside different healthcare professionals and scribes. I am ready to start fulfilling my careers goals and bring my passion to help others as well as help me be a better healthcare professional for when I am able to officially start practice.