Our Summer 2022 Staff

Courtney Pollakus, Project Coordinator

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Courtney Pokallus is a Healthcare Administration Major with a minor in Global Public Health at Arcadia University. She has also completed two seasons competitively swimming for Arcadia and has experience volunteering for multiple organizations including the One Project and her local public library. With a great interest in the healthcare system in the United States, Courtney is committed to advocating for patients rights. As the Associate Director of Provider Outreach and Education for The Power of the Patient Project, Courtney also serves as the Project Coordinator for MedFocus Research & Publishing.

Riham Alwaely, Senior Writer/Researcher

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Riham Alwaely is from Kansas City, and is currently a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City pursuing a bachelors degree in Chemistry and a double minor in Biology and Business Administration. She plans to become a dentist and aspires to bring about confident smiles in people through oral medicine. She is an advocate for patients and has a great interest in the sociology of medicine.

Hugo Amador, Senior Writer/Researcher

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Hugo Amador is an undergraduate student at Cornell University. He is currently studying cellular & molecular biology, journalism, and Latin American studies. After being born and raised in Honduras, Hugo moved to the United States in flee against gang violence where he has worked with many organizations in research/advocacy – primarily towards immigrant and refugee populations. He has given many TEDx talks, having his talks published with global organizations, and has also worked on clinical research within immigrant populations in the New York metropolitan area along with an infectious disease team. Hugo is the recipient of prestigious and competitive academic fellowships, such as the Cornell Commitment Fellowship, and is the founder of Hugo’s Movement, a not-for-profit that advocates for the access to equitable healthcare, education, and liberty of victims of war and gang violence, primarily immigrant children and adolescents. Hugo also is a contributor to Today's Patient, our online magazine.

Aaliya Anaya, Senior Writer/Researcher

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Aaliya Anaya is a graduate of California State University, Channel Islands with a Bachelor's degree in Health Science. During her undergraduate program, she was an intern with the California Department of Public Health where she was inspired to be in the field of public health. Her goal is to pursue practical frameworks to build a foundation of evidence through research and to promote that evidence through advocacy in order to improve population health. She has a passion for addressing the systemic social issues affecting underserved communities through policy change. She is planning to pursue a Master’s in Public Health with a focus in Health Policy and Management.

Abigail Arient, Senior Writer/Researcher

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Abigail Arient is a recent graduate of Stetson University with a Bachelor of Science in Health Science and a Bachelor of Art in History. With interests in health promotion, patient advocacy, and accessibility she hopes to pursue a career in physical or occupational therapy. She is also a Certified Pharmacy Technician and a medical billing coordinator and has received numerous academic honors.

Olivia Arkell, Senior Writer/Researcher

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Olivia Arkell is a recent graduate from Hamline University who studied psychology, philosophy, neuroscience, and political science. She has a strong interest in biomedical ethics and the psychotherapeutic value of psychedelics. Olivia is always looking for ways she can expand her understanding on how we can transform the way we treat mental illness in the clinical setting. She demonstrates this passion through researching and interpreting literature then translating it into a short article/blog form that is easy, reliable, and comprehensible for the general public to read. Olivia is part of the editorial team of Today’s Patient, the official online magazine of The Power of the Patient Project: The National Library of Patient Rights and Advocacy.

Emelia Behnan, Senior Writer/Researcher

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Emelia Behnan is a Master of Public Health candidate at the University of Southern California  with a focus on community health promotion. Emelia has a background in healthcare in the areas of health information management and patient billing. She has also volunteered her talents and time to several organizations to help community members with English proficiency and navigating the healthcare delivery system.

Dima Bischoff-Hashem, Senior Writer/Researcher

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Dima Bischoff-Hashem is an undergraduate at Rutgers University pursuing a double major in public health and computer science. She interned with The Power of the Patient last summer, and she is particularly interested in healthcare policy and affordability in healthcare. Last semester, She worked in a lab in her school’s department of cell biology and neuroscience, researching treatments for traumatic brain injuries. She also interned with three social work professors at Rutgers to contribute research for their publication on environmental justice. Dima hopes to take classes in addiction policy and public health law and aims to affect policy change in her career. Dima is also a contributor to Today's Patient, our online magazine.

Julianna Celestin, Senior Writer/Researcher

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Julianna Celestin is an ambitious-driven graduate from Florida State University, where she has obtained degrees in Family & Child Sciences and Public Health with a Minor in Child Development. She is currently pursuing a Master of Health Services Administration in Healthcare and later a Juris Master with a specific concentration in Healthcare. Her aspiration is to become a Healthcare Administrator and Researcher focused on strengthening systems solutions to public health, comprehensive health systems, and health care problems. Julianna's focus is improving access to healthcare. She is passionately committed to progressively improving the social efficiency and quality of healthcare services that are being provided and not provided to those in the underserved, underrepresented, and vulnerable populations.

Airiana Davis, Senior Writer/Researcher

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Airiana Davis is a graduate of Georgia State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Health and a minor in Chemistry. During her time at GSU, Airiana was not only committed to her academics but she was involved within the community, serving on the Executive Board in one of her eight organizations. She has the heart to minister and the experience working with various non-profit organizations, like Books for Africa and the Second Harvest of South Georgia Food Bank. Airiana also has a background with years of experience in the arts as a model, dancer, artist, designer, instrumentalist, and creative director. With her background in art and knowledge as a public health graduate, Airiana desires to bridge the gap between both to serve, seek intervention, and improve the lifestyles of individuals in underrepresented minority communities. One of Airiana’s goals is to collaborate with national leaders to develop, implement, and administer creative art services in public health systems for equality, health promotion, behavior change, and mental health on a global scale.

Anat Ferleger, Senior Writer/Researcher

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Anat Ferleger is a recent graduate from American University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Public Health, on the pre-med track. Throughout college she spent her time volunteering at a local fire station as an Emergency Medical Technician, as well as working with SOUL programs running workshops focused on academic, athletic and professional enrichment opportunities for low income DC youth. During the Covid-19 crisis, she volunteered administering vaccines at clinics around Washington, D.C. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and hiking with her Goldendoodle, Chloe. In the next year, Anat is planning to apply to medical school and hopes to use her interest in medical sociology to better herself as a physician. 

Bansi H. Kakadiya, Senior Writer/Researcher

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Bansi H. Kakadiya has a bachelor's degree in Biology from the University of Georgia and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Biomedical Sciences. Through her education, she wants to help people in need in the rural parts of the country. She enjoys volunteering for food banks, hospitals, and homeless shelters in Georgia in her leisure time. She is currently working to open a nonprofit organization in India to provide education for girls. 

Bansari Kheni, Senior Writer/Researcher

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Bansari Kheni is pursuing a Master's of Public Health with a concentration in Population Health at Wright State University. Bansari is a dentist by background and has experience of more than three years of treating patients. She became interested in studying public health during her junior year of undergraduate school as she is someone who has always prioritized health and serving the community. Her current goal is to give better health outcomes to the community. She would like to see the potential impact of her work by giving some unique concepts on public health in the community by improving the health of individuals and society.

Mason La Fleur, Senior Writer/Researcher

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Mason La Fleur is a senior at Grand Valley State University studying Health Communications. He serves as the President of the GVSU Health Communication Club, is a member of GVSU Students for Choice, and the GVSU Beekeeping club. Upon graduation, he plans to pursue a Master's in Health Administration with the career goal of working in a healthcare facility. In his free time, Mason enjoys reading, working out, spending time with friends, and watching movies. 

Anna Lu, Senior Writer/Researcher

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Yu-Tung Lu also goes by Anna. She is currently in professional year 1 in the Doctor of Pharmacy program at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. Her future goal is to do the residency program after graduating and put emphasis on patient-centered care.  She believes that asides from the medications that pharmacists place importance on, that other factors such as social environment, mental health, and others  significantly  impact a patient's health.

Michelle Powell, Senior Writer/Researcher

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Michelle Powell is an undergraduate student at Michigan State University majoring in Human Biology with plans to become a physician or PA. She is passionate about writing stories to help people that led her to join her school’s Her Campus chapter. With her desire for journalism, Michelle is a member of the editorial staff of Today’s Patient. Her focus is to explain medicine and medical issues to help patients with any misunderstandings they may have about the healthcare system. She joined our MedFocus Research & Publishing staff to contribute her talents to our project.

Regina Rush, Senior Writer/Researcher

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Regina Rush is a Research Analyst, who studies state, local, and educational technology solution trends throughout the United States. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology with a minor in Anthropology from the Florida A&M University. For the past year and a half, Rush has spent her time doing market research.  Regina plans to obtain her doctoral degree in Sociology. 

Anooshka Shukla, Senior Writer/Researcher

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Anooshka Shukla has a Bachelors of Science and with a major in Public Health from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) and is currently pursuing Masters of Public Health from the same university, with plans to graduate this summer. She worked as a Teaching Fellow for Citizen School in Boston, MA which works to help inner city students achieve their full potential. She assisted senior citizens in an adult day care center providing health care information. Anooshka also volunteered in a local pharmacy assisting with logistics and customer service. Being passionate about public health, Anooshka is always excited to empower patients, especially in mental health area. 

Faalik Zahra, Senior Writer/Researcher

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Faalik Zahra is a recent graduate from the University of Cincinnati who studied neuroscience and journalism. She has always had a strong inclination towards writing and sharing stories which have led her to pursue a journalism degree as well as founding an online media portal, Bearcat Voice. As a Senior Contributor, Faalik combines her passion for writing and her interest in medicine to work on educating patients on different medical illnesses, procedures, and treatments.