Washington DC Biosketches Class of 2019

Zain Asif

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I was born and raised in Northern Virginia right outside the Washington, D.C. area. I graduated from George Mason University in 2013 with a BS in Biology. My younger brother has autism which naturally led me to an interest in the medical field. After graduating I got a job at a glaucoma clinic and one of the patients who came in happened to be a CRNA. I shadowed him and immediately knew anesthesia was my calling. I knew I had to be a part of applying medical knowledge in an active, stimulating environment; being required to adapt to many different situations, while making arguably the biggest impact on a patient's life. I am honored to be in the CWRU MSA program and look forward to this life changing and immensely rewarding experience.

Nick Bontempo

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I was born and raised in upstate New York where I earned my B.S. with a major in biology and minor in chemistry from Utica College. My interest in the health field began during my first few years of undergrad. My original intent was to attend medical school. Following this decision, I began working on completing the necessary course work along with setting up various shadowing opportunities. During this time I held 2 jobs at 2 local hospitals, further immersing myself in the world of healthcare. This exposure put me in daily contact with a number of professionals in a number of specialties. My interest in anesthesia began during that time, leading me to re-evaluate my original plan. Following further consultation with professionals working in the field, I found that pursuing a career as a certified anesthesiologist assistant (CAA) would provide the best fit.

Addison Cain

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I am from Springfield, Ohio. I attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where I received a BA in Biology with a focus in pre-medical studies. I have always known that I wanted to pursue a career in medicine, but I was originally unsure which field would be best for me. During my sophomore year at Miami I learned about the certified anesthesiologist assistant (CAA) profession. It only took one day of observation in the OR for me to know that anesthesia was what I wanted to do. Everything about this job was exactly what I was looking for in a career. It was mentally engaging and challenging, it put to use my interest in science, medicine, and the human body, and it allowed for me to be in the OR experiencing the exhilaration of being part of a surgical team. Additionally, this career path has the ability to provide me with the freedom and flexibility to pursue my interests outside of medicine.

Kerlly Castellano

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I was born in Quito, Ecuador but raised in Orange County, CA before heading to Boston University to earn my BA in Biology. While working at Cedars Sinai Medical Center after college I encountered various anesthesiologists who exposed me to the CAA profession. I have always been interested in the human body and fascinated by anatomy and physiology. This passion is evident through my love of science and body movement. My enthusiasm for pursuing a career in the anesthesia subspecialty evolved as I observed procedures, learning about the value of anesthesia and how CAAs provide patient care. I am so honored to be a part of the CWRU MSA class of 2019 in Washington D.C. and I can’t wait to be a part of this noble profession.

Richard Davies

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I received a Bachelor of Science degree from SUNY Geneseo in New York State. I considered a career in clinical medicine but wanted to get a better understanding of the overall healthcare system first. This led me to attend the University at Buffalo, where I received a Master’s in Public Health. Upon graduation, I thought about the types of clinical medicine I liked the most and anesthesiology stuck out to me. I had met some certified anesthesiologist assistants (CAAs) a few years earlier while shadowing my brother during his oral surgery residency and thought the field seemed very interesting and engaging. I shadowed a few CAAs thereafter and found the career to be a perfect fit for me. I feel very fortunate to be a part of the CWRU Master of Science in Anesthesia program class of 2019 and look forward to a long and rewarding career as a certified anesthesiologist assistant.

Michael Diskin

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I was born in Detroit, MI. I pursued my passion to become a psychologist when I began my studies at Michigan State University. After several healthcare experiences, I became interested in providing clinical care as a physician and set my goal on medical school. In 2011, I completed my BS in Psychology and Human Biology with two specializations before enrolling at Michigan State University's College of Osteopathic Medical School. From the start of medical school I underwent health struggles and surgeries which affected my studies. I remained committed to my intention to improve the quality of life of my future patients who were in similar circumstances. After much reflection, I changed my career plans to become a healthcare provider sooner. I enrolled in a post-baccalaureate program at the University of Pennsylvania and discovered the certified anesthesiologist assistant (CAA) profession. Having shadowed anesthetists, and wanting a career in the OR, I knew this was the career path for me. I could not be more excited to join CWRU's DC MSA program Class of 2019 where I will receive the best training possible to make a difference in patient care!

Maria Fortner

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I grew up in Wadsworth, Ohio and graduated from The Ohio State University with a BS in biology and a minor in public health. Throughout my undergrad years I never knew what I wanted to do and explored a wide variety of professions from education, to business, and then healthcare. I was always drawn more to the healthcare field but I couldn’t find the right fit for me. It wasn’t until a year after I graduated that I was introduced to Case Western Reserve University’s MSA program. After I shadowed a CAA, I instantly became fascinated with the profession and finally knew that this was the right career path for me. After living in Pittsburgh and Columbus I am excited to explore a new city and to be a part of everything the Washington, DC program has to offer.

Janet Ha

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At a young age my mother moved my sister and me to Virginia in hopes of a better life. I was raised and studied in the public schools of Fairfax County, Virginia. After high school, I was unsure of what I wanted to major in and took a year off. I studied IT first at NOVA, and took an anatomy and physiology class that simply took my heart. Soon after I changed my major to biology and transferred to George Mason University. Life is always full of surprises, and during my last semester at GMU I became unsure about entering medical school and giving up time with my young family. That was when I received an email about CWRU’s certified anesthesia assistant program. I researched the program and was able to shadow CAA’s at Washington Hospital Center. I realized that getting a Master of Science in Anesthesia would encompass my passion for being in the medical field and allow me to spend time with my family. I am excited to start on my new adventure of becoming a CAA at CWRU-DC.

Rhiannon Hainds

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I was born in Illinois, raised in Iowa, and attended the University of Denver in Colorado where I obtained my Bachelor’s in Biology in 2014. I studied abroad in Peru, Spain, and participated in Semester at Sea during my undergraduate career. For the past few years I have worked as an Ophthalmic Assistant in Denver, Colorado and Atlanta, Georgia. I always knew I would further pursue a career in medicine, but I was uncertain in exactly what field I wanted to work. My father is an anesthesiologist, so I was exposed to the field at a young age. My father encouraged me to look into the CAA profession. After shadowing, I understood this career encompasses everything I was looking for. I chose CWRU D.C. because of the hands-on clinical training approach and the students’ involvement in furthering the profession. I look forward to being a part of the Class of 2019 and am grateful for this opportunity!

Alex Jurcisin

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I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. During my senior year of high school, I decided to enroll in the United States Marine Corps. After completing boot camp, an injury ended my time in the Marines. I was then faced with the decision of what to do next. I had decided to enlist in the Marines because I wanted to help people, so I decided to go to college to earn a degree with which I could do the same. Now, 4 years later, I have a Biology Degree from High Point University. I am extremely grateful and honored to be a part of the MSA Program at Case Western Reserve University and I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Parth Kalola

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I spent most my life in Galloway, a small suburb outside of Atlantic City, NJ. In 2013 I graduated from Drexel University with a BS in biology. When it was time to choose a major, I decided on the pre-med track, but it wasn’t until I shadowed an anesthesiologist that I realized what I wanted to do in life. The anesthesiologist, Dr. Ashish Sinha, was the person who introduced me to the certified anesthesiologist assistant (CAA) profession. I began doing research immediately and applied as soon as I could. I didn’t get in the first time, but I didn’t stop there. Instead, I decided to find a profession that would allow me to work and continue my journey towards becoming a CAA. I enrolled in a program to become a Sleep Technologist and then began my Master in Biomedical Sciences at Rowan University. After 3 years of long night shifts, studying for MCAT, studying for finals, and filling out applications, I finally made it. I was accepted to all the schools I applied to and interviewed with. I even accepted seats at a few programs not knowing if I would ever have a chance anywhere else. Finally, I was accepted to CWRU. I chose to go to CWRU because I knew that no other program would better prepare me for my career as a CAA. I believe the experiences that lie ahead of me will be one of a kind.

Andrew Le

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Before entering this program I was an undergraduate studying biology at Northern Arizona University. I was unsure of what exactly I wanted to do in the future, but I knew I wanted to do something in medicine. Over the course of the summer I researched various programs and came to the conclusion that the certified anesthesiologist assistant (CAA) program at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) would be the best fit for me. I am thankful for having this opportunity to be a part of this program.

Nancy Long

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I graduated from the University of South Carolina with a major in Biological Sciences and a minor in Medical Humanities. I have always enjoyed studying anatomy and learning about the wonderful intricacies of the human body. I’ve always known that I wanted a career in the medical field where I could use this passion to serve others. While shadowing in the OR my attention became the certified anesthesiologist assistants (CAAs) in the room and the care they provided to their patients. I didn’t know much about the profession at the time, but it was very eye-opening to see what a vital role they played into the patient’s overall surgical care. After researching the anesthesia field and shadowing more CAAs, I realized this was the profession I wanted to pursue. I am very excited and incredibly grateful to be a member of CWRU’s MSA Class of 2019 in Washington, D.C.!

Emilia Morales

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Born and raised in Monterey, California, I moved across the country to New Jersey/New York to pursue my undergraduate studies at 3 universities simultaneously: Saint Peter’s University, where I double majored and graduated with Honors with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Biotechnology. Meanwhile, I was accepted into Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons pre-medical internship program, I worked on my honors senior thesis in pediatric psychiatry. I continued my studies at Rutgers Medical School by conducting biotechnology research. After graduation, I worked as a medical scribe at CityMD in Manhattan before moving back to Monterey to focus on studying for the MCAT. During my time in Monterey, I volunteered at Meals On Wheels, tutored students, worked at Central Coast Pain Institute (CCPI) & at Jeffrey’s Grill and Catering, trained for 2 Big Sur half marathons and the Big Sur International Marathon. Additionally, I fundraised for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Man/Woman of the Year campaign. My time at CCPI solidified my desire to pursue Anesthesiology. I am proud and honored to be a part of CWRU’s DC program, and I look forward to the rewarding journey ahead.

Catherine Olumba

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I was born and raised in Washington D.C., and ever since I can remember I have had a strong interest and desire to enter the medical profession. I attended Bowie State University and received a BS in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations. I did this while simultaneously pursuing the pre-med track. I later continued my education and earned an MA in Corporate Communications. Even after completing these degrees, I still had a very strong desire to enter the medical profession as I knew that was the career I wanted. I did research about different medical professions and came across the certified anesthesiologist assistant (CAA) profession. When I did more research and I read in detail about the profession, I fell in love with it as it encompasses all of the ideals I would love to have in my career; caring for patients and having work-life balance are just a two of the many aspects I love about the CAA profession. I am beyond thrilled to begin my journey here at CWRU with the class of 2019 and to enter the growing CAA profession.

Nick Peterson

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I attended The Ohio State University, receiving my BS in Biochemistry in 2014. In the Fall of 2015 I began a post-baccalaureate pre-medical program at American University and continued it up until just a few weeks before starting the Master of Science in Anesthesia (MSA) program in Washington, DC. I was first made aware of the MSA program through various family members and emails during my undergraduate years. I realized being a certified anesthesiologist assistant (CAA) was the career for me after witnessing my fiancée and friends go through the program. Seeing how rewarding the program and profession was for them led me to do my own research, confirming that this is the perfect career for me. I am honored to be a part of Case Western Reserve’s DC MSA class of 2019 and cannot wait to see what the next two years hold.

Trena Pilegaard

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I came to Case Western Reserve's MSA program in a roundabout way. Born and raised in California, I went to undergrad at Christendom College in Front Royal, VA for a degree in English Language and Literature. After that, life took me to Rome, Italy as a Residence Coordinator, then to Arlington, VA to work in education, and then finally to Washington, DC where I was a lobbyist for agricultural issues. I have always been interested in the medical profession. It combines my love of science and helping people into one job, but I didn't want to be a nurse or a doctor. I considered being a PA for a time, but after working in several jobs where I had worn multiple hats I wanted a very specialized focus. When I heard about Case Western Reserve University's MSA program from a friend who is a certified anesthesiologist assistant (CAA), it piqued my interested. After some research, I knew this was the field I wanted to work in. It was specialized! I was also extremely impressed with CWRU's location in Washington, DC, and the students and staff I met there. I am very excited to be a part of the Class of 2019 and I am really looking forward to being a CAA!

Mohammad Pradhan

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I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. I graduated from the University of Georgia with my bachelor’s in biology. Growing up, I was always involved in volunteering, especially at my local mosque. This developed my interest in helping people. Throughout my education, I found I have a passion for science. Biology, biochemistry, and microbiology were always my favorite subjects and they made me become more fascinated with the human body. Combined with my interest in helping people, I was led to a career in medicine. After researching different fields and talking to my professors I decided on joining the anesthesia care team as a certified anesthesiologist assistant (CAA) because it was the perfect balance and was exactly what I was looking for. I'm excited to be a part of CWRU MSA program class of 2019!

Akash Sinha

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I was born and raised in Raleigh, NC and graduated from the University of South Carolina with a BS in biology and a minor in business. Since I was a child, I knew I wanted to work in a medical profession. Throughout my college career, I was involved in genetic research, shadowing, volunteering, etc. I originally planned on attending medical school, but decided to pursue other options.  After speaking with a current CWRU MSA student and looking into the certified anesthesiologist assistant (CAA) profession, I knew this was the right path for me. I was particularly interested in CWRU’s MSA Program because of the immediate hands-on learning and clinical exposure. I am extremely excited to begin this journey and proud to be part of CWRU’s MSA Washington, DC Program class of 2019!

Kevin Sistani

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From a young age I knew I would be staying close to home and becoming a Terrapin at the University of Maryland. It was in high school when I knew I was leaning towards getting a degree in Biology.  After some years working in a neuroscience research lab, I realized I wanted more patient interaction. This motivated me to attend some pre-health society meetings where I was fortunate enough to have a representative from Case Western Reserve University's DC site come and speak about the certified anesthesiologist assistant (CAA) program that was being established in the area. I believe it will be an amazing fit for my specific learning style, particularly because of the early hands-on experience. I was ecstatic to be admitted to the DC CWRU Master of Science in Anesthesia program. I’ll be close to home and I am looking forward to the amazing and extremely challenging opportunity that lies ahead. I cannot wait to be a part of the Class of 2019.

Scott Vazquez

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I grew up in North Canton, Ohio. After graduating high school I took two years off and played junior hockey in Boston. From there, I attended Hamilton College, where I earned a degree in Neuroscience and a minor in dance. During the summer before my sophomore year I shadowed a few physicians, one of whom was an anesthesiologist who told me about the certified anesthesiologist assistant (CAA) profession. I was extremely interested in the idea of being an important part of a medical team and working in the OR. Once I decided that medical school was not for me, I shadowed a CAA and quickly realized that this profession would allow me to accomplish my career goals while helping others in a challenging, hands-on environment. I couldn’t be more appreciative for the opportunity to be apart of the class of 2019. I am looking forward to what the future may bring.