Skip to Main Content
CWRU Links

School of

Cleveland 2019

Cleveland Biosketches Class of 2019

Brian Baker

Brian Baker head shot

I am from Dublin, Ohio, and I have a degree in Biology from The Ohio State University. A conversation with an old friend (to whom I am eternally grateful) put me on the path to becoming a CAA. I’ve always had a strong, innate curiosity about physiology and medicine, and I look forward to mastering the cutting-edge science of anesthesia with my fellow classmates. I spend most of my time either with my dog, Compy (short for Compsognathus); writing web applications of dubious utility; reading as much news as I can tolerate; or with my girlfriend, Janet, who will be starting a new job at Cleveland Clinic this summer!

Madeline Deabler

Madeline Deabler head shot

Entering college, I knew I wanted to be in the medical field, but I wasn’t sure which of the professions suited me best. As an undergraduate at CWRU, I studied Nutritional Biochemistry and Metabolism along with Psychology. After spending four years on this campus, I fell in love with the school and the city and knew I wanted to stay. Once I heard about the MSA Program in Cleveland I decided to shadow. Needless to say, I loved my experience shadowing a CAA. I observed one of the most special aspects of this career: the way in which anesthesia professionals were able to secure the patients’ trust in a short amount of time, making them feel so at ease. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to continue my time in Cleveland and at CWRU in the MSA Program, and I am looking forward to a future in this profession!

Justin Ellingworth

Justin Ellingworth head shot

I was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. I graduated from St. Ambrose University in 2015 with a BS in Biology. During my undergraduate years, I worked as a clinical assistant in the emergency room at Genesis Health Systems in Davenport. This experience solidified my intentions to work in the medical field. After seeing and shadowing anesthesia providers, I quickly realized I wanted to practice anesthesia. When I learned about the MSA Program at CWRU and their emphasis on clinical education, I was set on applying and I could not be more excited to be a part of the Cleveland Class of 2019!

Madeline Fortune

Madeline Fortune head shot

I was born and raised in Akron, Ohio. I graduated from Baldwin Wallace University in 2016 with a BS in Biology and a minor in Latin American Studies. Throughout my undergraduate career, I knew I wanted to be in the medical field but I struggled to find where I fit in. I was introduced to the CAA profession and the MSA Program through a neighbor who happens to be a doctor at University Hospitals. As I looked more into the program, I realized that it could be a perfect fit for me. I decided to shadow the program shortly after doing my own research about what CWRU had to offer. After my first day shadowing in the OR, I knew that this program was the perfect fit. I love that the MSA Program is extremely hands-on and that it will challenge me on a daily basis. I believe that this program will shape me to be the best medical professional I can possibly be. I am looking forward to starting the MSA Program at Case Western Reserve University and in a few short years starting my career as a CAA.

Amanda Galambos

Amanda Galambos head shot

I was born in Trenton, New Jersey, but I spent most of my childhood years in the small town of Dover, Ohio. I graduated from Mount Vernon Nazarene University with a BS in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. From the time I began my undergraduate education, I knew I wanted to be an Anesthesiologist Assistant. My dad, who is an anesthesiologist, exposed me to the career when I was 17. After spending a day shadowing a CAA, I was convinced this was the perfect profession for me. I love being in the OR but I also love patient interaction, so being a CAA will give me the best of both of those worlds. Since I first learned about the profession I have wanted to attend CWRU because I believe it is the best program out there. I could not be more excited and honored to be a part of the MSA Program at CWRU and start my journey to becoming a CAA!

Erin Hammond

Erin Hammond head shot

I was born in a suburb of Cleveland; after moving and relocating many times with my family, we ended up back in the greater Cleveland area for my high school years. I attended Pensacola Christian College in Pensacola, Florida where I graduated with a BS in Natural Sciences with an emphasis in pre-medicine and a minor in English. As I was applying and preparing to enter medical school, CWRU emailed me about the MSA program. I realized that, although I wanted the prestige of being a physician, I did not want the lifestyle and schedule of one. Becoming a CAA will allow me both to help others and to work in the OR. I am beyond excited to start these next two years at Case Western Reserve.

Stephanie Herald

Stephanie Herald head shot

I graduated from Roosevelt University Chicago with a BS in Biology/Pre-Medicine with a concentration in neuroscience and minors in chemistry, mathematics, and psychology. The operating room environment always appealed to me, and I thought this meant I should attend medical school. As I started the first year of courses I realized that the lifestyle just wasn’t for me. I decided to take some time off to work with patients in different settings while I searched for a career that would better suit me. I was fortunate to find out about the MSA program through a family friend and the career piqued my interest. I decided to shadow a CAA and immediately fell in love with the profession. I knew it was the right choice for me. I am so thankful to have found a program and future career that I am passionate about and am very grateful for the opportunity to pursue this career at CWRU.

Yasmine Hirbawi

Yasmine Hirbawi head shot

I am from Cleveland, Ohio, and I attended Ohio State University where I graduated in 2016 with a BS degree in Biology. Following graduation, I worked at the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center as a Research Technician with a focus on MDS. Working at the Cleveland Clinic also gave me the opportunity to shadow multiple physicians, including a couple anesthesiologists. I’ve always wanted to pursue a career in the medical field that involved patient interaction, hands-on work, and would challenge me to become the best medical professional I can be. After shadowing the anesthesiologists in the OR, I realized that this was the type of setting I was looking for. I was especially drawn to the amount of case variation and different types of surgeries that I could be a part of every day. A friend of mine informed me of the MSA Program and as I looked into it, I decided that this was the career path I wanted to pursue. I believe that CWRU will provide me with the best opportunities in this profession and I am so grateful to be a part of it. I look forward to learning alongside my fellow classmates and becoming a CAA. 

Samuel Kelly 

Samuel Kelly head shot

I am from Cleveland, OH, and graduated from John Carroll University in 2016 with a degree in biology.  I learned about the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession during my sophomore year of college and became interested in the field. I attempted to go the route of an accelerated nursing program in order to become a nurse anesthetist but things fell through. I remembered CWRU’s program and shadowed a CAA. That’s when I fell in love with the program and everything involved with it. I decided that the MSA program was a perfect fit for me. I am super excited to start the next chapter of my life at CWRU and to become a CAA!

Emilie Lanter

Emilie Lanter head shot

I graduated from Thomas More College in 2015 with degrees in Biology and Psychology. My original game plan was medical school, but a year spent taking medical school coursework in the Special Masters Program at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine made me come to the difficult realization that I didn’t want to be a doctor after all. I began working in cardiovascular research at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, where providing anesthesia to mice undergoing surgery piqued my interest in the field. I was lucky to have two friends in the CWRU MSA Program, who helped me realize what a perfect fit the CAA career is for my interests and lifestyle. I am excited to be a member of the Class of 2019, and look forward to becoming a compassionate and skilled anesthetist!

Daniel Lee

Daniel Lee head shot

I earned a Biological Science degree from the Master’s University. At this university, I developed an interest in Organic Chemistry and Physiology due to amazing professors. Originally, I was going to go to medical school; however, life circumstances pushed me to reconsider my option. After some self-evaluation, I decided that medical school was not the right option. This caused me to consider other careers, which eventually led me to discover the CWRU MSA Program. This program truly brings together everything that I desire: one-on-one patient interaction, involvement in science and healthcare, critical thinking, and work-life emphasis. Furthermore, when shadowing at CWRU, I found CAAs to be “down to earth” and friendly. They were enthusiastic about their career and wanted me to be likewise. As an entering student in MSA Program Class of 2019, I appreciate the opportunity that I have been given and I am excited to one day be the CAA showing future students what this career is like!

Melissa Mermiges

Melissa Mermiges head shot

I am from Grosse Pointe, Michigan, and I graduated from Michigan State University with a BS in Human Biology. Some of my interests include my German Shepherd, Game of Thrones, and travel. I have always dreamed I would be in the medical field, but after graduating I was very unsure of what I wanted to do. I took a year off trying alternative options. Then a podiatrist suggested I look into becoming a CAA. I shadowed at University Hospitals, and I loved the atmosphere of trust the CAA established with his patients. I really enjoy how CAAs don’t have to limit themselves to one specialty, and they get to see a variety of different surgeries throughout their career. I went into the medical field with the hope that I would one day be able to act in an uncontrollable situation and save someone’s life. I feel the profession of a CAA is the perfect choice for me to have a fulfilling career.

Jake Miner

Jake Miner head shot

I graduated from The Ohio State University in 2015 with a BS in Public Health. After graduation, I worked at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center as a Clinical Research Specialist in the Stem Cell Transplant Program. While there I had the opportunity to work alongside a variety of physicians on a daily basis. My initial career aspirations were to attend medical school, but as time went on my desire began to dwindle. Eventually a friend of mine who was familiar with the CWRU CAA program proposed it as an alternative. After shadowing, I knew that being a CAA was the profession that fit my skills and personality best. Shortly thereafter, I began working in the OR at Southwest General Hospital as an Anesthesia Technician, which further solidified my desire to become a CAA. I look forward to beginning the MSA program and starting my career as a CAA.

Emily Mycyk

Emily Mycyk head shot

My path to becoming a student in the CWRU Anesthesiologist Assistant program is a bit of a winding one. As a young college student, I had no idea what career I wanted and ended up graduating with a BS in Advertising from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. After a few unfulfilling years working in sales, I concluded I was in desperate need of a career change. On a whim, I decided to enroll in an EMT-B class to explore medicine and after a week I was hooked. I completed a post-baccalaureate pre-health program at Loyola University Chicago with the initial intent on becoming a Physician’s Assistant, but as fate would have it, a friend of mine knew an Anesthesiologist Assistant practicing in Wisconsin he thought I should shadow. After my shadowing experience I knew this was the career I wanted for myself and after research and several incredible recommendations as to Case Western Reserve’s program, I knew this would be the best place to pursue it. I’m thrilled at the opportunity to be part of such a prestigious program and cannot wait to learn all I can alongside the class of 2019.

Kristen Porvasnik

Kristen Porvasnik head shot

I have always been interested in pursuing a career in the medical field. After spending some time in high school shadowing in the OR, I found everything that I was looking for in the profession of an anesthesiologist assistant. With this in mind, I graduated from John Carroll University in 2016 with a BS in Cell and Molecular Biology. Following graduation, I worked as an anesthesia aide at Southwest General Health Center. I am very excited to finally be a part of CWRU’s MSA Program!

Samantha Prochaska

Samantha Prochaska head shot

I was raised in Canal Fulton, Ohio, before attending The Ohio State University. I graduated with a BS in Accounting, and have worked as an auditor/SEC Financial Reporting Accountant for the last 9 years. After working three different types of accounting jobs and still being unsatisfied with my career, I began to realize that the problem wasn’t the job, it was me. After speaking with a friend of mine who was an Anesthesiology resident at CWRU, I became very interested in the MSA Program. I began the educational requirements to get into the program while continuing to work my full-time accounting job and began learning more about the MSA Program at CWRU and about a career as a CAA. After all of the coursework, the research on the career, and finally my shadowing experiences, I was convinced that this was the right choice for me. I’m extremely excited about the opportunity to be a part of CWRU’s Class of 2019 and can’t wait to get started!

Jonathan Rifici

Jonathan Rifici head shot

I am from Cleveland, Ohio and I graduated from West Virginia University in 2013 with a BS in Chemical Engineering. I worked in the chemical field for 3 years before deciding to make a career change. I have always been drawn to the medical field and after shadowing several CAAs I knew this was my true calling. The biggest draw of both the program and the profession was the interaction with the patients. The CAAs I shadowed demonstrated a remarkable ability to comfort and calm the patients during one of the more stressful and often terrifying events in life. Witnessing this really inspired me. In addition to excellent patient care, I was drawn to the intellectual challenges that CAAs encounter on a daily basis. The on-the-spot problem solving combined my love for engineering and medicine into one perfect package. I am honored and excited to be a part of the CWRU program in this growing and rewarding career.

Gregory Rivenbark

Gregory Rivenbark head shot

Being a Cleveland area native, I’ve lived my entire life in this area. I grew up close by in Elyria, Ohio, and began my college career at Lorain County Community College. After completing a wide range of prerequisites, I was offered a scholarship to the Cleveland State University Mandel Honors College to continue my pre-medical focused education and to finish an undergraduate degree in Biology in their Honors Program. During two years at CSU my beautiful daughter, Olivia, was born. She is the absolute light of my life. I am a first generation college student and graduated summa cum laude from CSU, having earned a B.S. in honors Biology; after finishing the capstone project of a yearlong research internship; having written and defended my thesis. Serendipitously, I received an email advertising the MSA program at CWRU while I was considering applying to medical school. Upon meeting with the staff, instructors, and shadowing CAAs, I realized this was the program, the profession, and the career that I had been searching for. Based on the strength, atmosphere, and culture exemplified by this program, I have no doubt that I will become a CAA worthy of carrying on the MSA program legacy. As a CWRU grad I expect to enter the field with a high level of expertise and professionalism and to be worthy of the title, like those before me. I’m excited to work towards the continued growth of this field.


Nicholas Simpson

Nicholas Simpson head shot

I graduated from Saint Louis University in 2012 with my bachelor’s in nuclear medicine technology. I enjoyed my time working as a nuclear medicine technologist in the St. Louis area but always wanted to do something more.  Finally, a friend of mine suggested I look into becoming a certified anesthesiologist assistant (CAA). Her husband is in the profession and she thought it would be something I would enjoy. After shadowing, I agreed with her! Each and every professional I had contact with spoke highly of Case Western Reserve University’s Master of Science in Anesthesia program, so I was thrilled when I was accepted. I am excited to get started!

Kera Sparks

Kera Sparks head shot

I grew up in Grosse Ile, Michigan and graduated from Grand Valley State University in April of 2017 with a major in Biomedical Science and minor in Chemistry. For the last year of my undergraduate career I was a part-time student while working full-time as a Med Tech at an assisted living facility. I have always had a passion for the medical field and I knew I wanted to pursue further schooling past my undergraduate degree. I began researching Masters programs and came across the MSA at Case Western Reserve University. I immediately started exploring this profession, realizing it was exactly what I was looking for: patient contact, time in the OR, and expanding my knowledge about the effects of medication on the body. I shadowed a CAA at University Hospitals further confirming that this profession was a perfect fit. CWRU’s emphasis on clinical exposure was a huge draw for me because I am a firm believer in learning by doing rather than just watching. I am extremely excited and honored to be part of the incoming Class of 2019!

Yuanyuan Wang

Yuanyuan Wang head shot

I received my B.S. degree in biology from Zhejiang University, China, continued my study in molecular biology and biochemistry at SUNY-Binghamton, and moved to Cleveland to be with my family. Having always been passionate about healthcare, I clarified my decision to pursue a career in the field of anesthesiology upon graduation. Therefore, when I learned about the CAA profession and the MSA program at Case Western Reserve University, I requested a shadowing opportunity as soon as I could. The shadowing experience and further research assured me that the CAA profession would be the perfect career choice for me: it satisfies my desire to comfort and care others in need; it furthermore combines my interests in biochemistry, challenging problem-solving, and direct patient interaction, and allows practitioners a balanced lifestyle. I am extremely grateful to be part of the prestigious MSA program at Case Western Reserve University and I look forward to a fulfilling future as a CAA.

Andrew Wikaryasz

Andrew Wikaryasz head shot

I am from a small town called Dexter near Ann Arbor, Michigan. I’ve always been fascinated by the body and its mechanics and chemical functions. I graduated from the University of Michigan in 2016 with a BS in Biomolecular Sciences with a plan to pursue a career in healthcare. After graduation, I became a Patient Care Tech (PCT) at a nearby hospital and got great hands-on experience and greater opportunities to shadow doctors in different fields. I found out about Case Western Reserve University's Master of Science in Anesthesia program through the medical school expo that was held at the University of Michigan and I fell in love. I strongly believe that the program will fulfill my desire to care for people and provide me with perfect work/life balance.