Class of 2020 Biographies

Isaac Alghoosen | Cleveland

I am a Wisconsin native, and earned my bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences from Marquette University in 2011. Before arriving at Case Western, I worked as an Emergency Department Technician at a Level I Burn Center and as an Anesthesia Technician at a Level I Trauma Center where I gained experience in trauma, transplant, cardiac, and neuro cases. In my free time I enjoy reading, cheering on the Milwaukee Brewers, and going on runs with my dog Brody.


Samantha Alper | Houston

I was born and raised in Houston, and completed my bachelor’s degree in Biology at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. After graduation, I decided to continue the research I started in my senior year and obtain my master’s degree in Biology at the same institution. I knew during this time that I wanted a career in the medical field, so I began working as a medical scribe in the Orthopedic Surgery Department at the Houston Methodist Hospital. While working as a scribe, I had the opportunity to interact with all members of the healthcare team, and learned about the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession from one of our resident physicians. After researching more about the profession and shadowing a CAA, I decided this was the path for me. I chose Case Western Reserve University’s Houston location for many reasons, including the desire to stay close to home and the opportunity to continue working the Texas Medical Center.


Ashwinraj Amalraj | Cleveland

I was born in a rural town in southern India and immigrated to Canada at the age of ten. I attended York University in Toronto, majoring in Kinesiology and Health Studies. I can’t recall a time in my life when I wasn’t captivated by all the intricate details of biology, human medicine, and the technological advances that transform medical care. I believe we live in an incredible time—a disease could be fatal one year and cured the next due to innovations in surgical procedures or drug development. These interests placed me on the physician’s path, allowing me incredible learning experiences and opportunities. One such opportunity was to serve as the president of the Canadian Association for Research in Regenerative Medicine, a stem cell advocacy and research organization. Additionally, I spent over five years volunteering at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto and working as a clinical research assistant at the Ross Tilley Burn Center. To be brief, the things I have learned, the altruism I’ve witnessed, and the compassion I see in healthcare will always draw me into a profession in this field. When I discovered the MSA Program, I believed that becoming a certified anesthesiologist assistant would propel me in the right direction. Anesthesia is fascinating because it deals completely with pain, which is something that is fundamentally understood by all people. Pain connects us as human beings, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to learn the science and art of anesthesia and to help patients in their most vulnerable state.


Ariel Amman | Cleveland

I am from Brighton, Michigan. I attended Michigan State University for undergrad, where I majored in Human Biology with a minor in Bioethics. I always had plans to go into the healthcare field, but I was never quite sure what to do specifically. Anesthesiology had always interested me, and when I looked into the MSA program, I knew this was the field for me. After shadowing an anesthesiologist, my mind was completely made up. I love being in the operating room, and how each case and patient is unique.


Hediye Bashi Zadeh Fakhar | Houston

After managing at least 100 natural deliveries, I graduated overseas with a bachelor’s degree in Nurse Midwifery and spent two years providing care to patients in under-developed areas. After immigrating to the United States, I started shadowing different healthcare professionals because I knew that I wanted to advance my education in healthcare and I enjoyed spending time taking care of patients. While I was shadowing a doctor at Memorial Hermann TMC, I learned about the CWRU MSA Program. After more research, I realized that this field would best fit my interests in medicine and my teamwork and communication skills. While taking the required courses, I volunteered at the anesthesia clinic at Memorial Hermann TMC for more than a year and met some of the CWRU CAA students. They truly impressed me by their vast knowledge and the high level of professional training that CWRU was offering to them. To be more exposed to the anesthesia field, I worked as the Research Coordinator at the Pediatric Anesthesiology Department at Baylor College of Medicine.


Samira Ben Salka | Houston

I was born and raised in Marrakesh, Morocco and graduated as a nurse anesthetist. My passion towards this field increased as I started working in the Regional Hospital in Morocco. My work in the surgical unit and the emergency department there taught me to be a lifelong learner to better assist my patients. My ambition to learn and to improve my procedural skills motivated me to look for new opportunities in higher education. Three years later, after working in the Regional Hospital, I arrived in the United States in search of new opportunities and research. I was not able to receive full credit for my previous degree, but was determined not to give up and chose to return to college to pursue a new degree. I successfully completed two associate degrees at Houston Community College. Then, I transferred to the University of Houston where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a minor in Medicine and Society. Returning to college was a great opportunity to improve my skills and to learn new subjects. I could relate each concept to my work in the hospital, and I continually apply the classroom knowledge through volunteer work at the Methodist Hospital and by conducting research at the University of Houston and Texas Children’s Hospital. I am so honored to have this priceless opportunity to continue my education at CWRU in Houston to achieve my dream career and give the best care to my patients.


Allison Berger | Cleveland

I grew up in an impoverished Columbus neighborhood, and graduated high school in the quiet suburbs. As this social mobility would have never been possible without the help of so many others, it filled me with a sincere desire to help others and sparked my initial interest in healthcare. However, shortly after high school my family struggled with opening up a restaurant and for the next seven years I put my educational goals on hold to volunteer my labor to the family business, while working other jobs for income. During those seven years, I not only saw how much of a people-oriented and teamwork-focused person I truly am, but I also saw how the help of so many different employees again carried us to success. This experience made me completely determined to become a medical professional, and motivated me to apply to The Ohio State University, where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology. When I heard about the MSA Program at CWRU, I was immediately interested and I participated in a shadowing experience. I knew that it was a perfect fit for me.


Trevor Boensch | Cleveland

My love of science and innate interest in human nature led me to earn bachelor’s degrees in Anthropology and Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Although my research experience at Loyola University Hospital Cancer Center and Northwestern University were both invaluable to developing technical lab protocol skills and diligently focusing my attention to detail, I have always sought to apply my knowledge in the natural sciences in a way that can more directly help others. Becoming a certified anesthesiologist assistant will allow me to help immediately and significantly improve the health of the community. After two years of intensive clinical training and the rigor of a demanding curriculum, I will be able to diminish patients' pain through harnessing discoveries in human physiology and pharmacology in order to complete an array of otherwise unfathomable surgical procedures. I am truly delighted to be a part of the outstanding, challenging, and gratifying Master of Science in Anesthesia Program at Case Western Reserve University.


Se Chang | Washington, D.C.

My curiosity for life and love for science led me to study Biotechnology as an undergraduate student at James Madison University in Virginia. It was my lifelong dream to pursue a career in medicine. After graduating from college, I worked as a medical scribe for about two years. During this time, I was exposed to many medical conditions. I loved going into the operating room to shadow, and found total joint replacement surgeries to be wild and particularly fascinating. While traveling, I came across the history of anesthesia at Massachusetts General Hospital. Although I had no particular interest in anesthesia prior to that moment, I realized the importance of this profession. Shortly after that, I learned about the MSA Program at Case Western Reserve University. Everything was new to me about this profession. I did some research, which led me to shadowing in the operating room more specifically with anesthesia in mind. After shadowing a few anesthesiologists and CRNAs, I felt that this was a perfect fit for me.


Matthew Chapman | Houston

I was born and raised in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and graduated from Tulane University with a bachelor’s degree in Cell and Molecular Biology. During my time as an undergraduate, I participated as an intern in Touro University's anesthesia department. I knew I wanted to do something medical, but it wasn't until then that I knew that the operating room environment was right for me. After moving to Houston and finding the Master of Science in Anesthesia Program, I decided that it was the right choice for me and my future aspirations.


Cynthia Colt | Cleveland

I attended Duquesne University, where I received my bachelor’s degree in Multimedia, Advertising and Public Relations. Upon graduation I competed for and was awarded one of three annual positions in a forensic photography preceptorship offered by Miami-Dade County. After completing the preceptorship, I earned a certification in Forensic and Biomedical Photography. I gained forensic and medical experience while working for the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner’s Office and the Harris County Institute of Forensic Science. Working alongside several pathologists led me to research additional career options in the medical profession, including the MSA program at CWRU. Subsequently, a number of shadowing opportunities reinforced my desire to enter the field of anesthesiology. I was impressed by the hands-on structure of the curriculum and how quickly the students were immersed in the daily tasks of the CAA.


Connor Conti | Washington, D.C.

I was born and raised in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, and later attended East Stroudsburg University. During my undergraduate studies, I double majored in Biochemistry and Chemical Biotechnology along with a double minor in Mathematics and Physics. Combining a strong passion for the biological sciences with my love of helping others made pursuing a career in medicine my most desired choice. During my last year of my undergraduate studies I learned about the Master of Science in Anesthesia Program at Case Western Reserve University. This was my first-ever exposure to the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession. After speaking with my universities’ premed advisor and a few anesthesiologists, I felt that this profession sounded like a perfect fit for me.


Adriel Crispo | Cleveland

I am from Hillsborough, New Jersey, and I graduated from The Ohio State University in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience and a specialization in cellular and molecular neuroscience. After graduating, I worked as a unit clerk on a neuro-progressive unit at the Wexner Medical Center. I also worked as a research lab assistant investigating the cellular mechanisms underlying remyelination post spinal cord injury in mice, and began working as an emergency department medical scribe in the Mount Carmel health system. Because of an interest in underpinning drug mechanisms, I pursued a Master of Science in Pharmacology during my gap year. While exploring next steps, I learned about the CWRU MSA program. Standing at the head of the OR table monitoring patient vitals and anticipating pharmacological needs while shadowing a certified anesthesiologist assistant, I found my niche.


Stefanie Dietz | Washington, D.C.

I was born and raised in North Richland Hills, Texas near Fort Worth. In 2015 I received my bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences from Texas A&M University. Originally I was interested in becoming a veterinarian, but eventually decided that this wasn’t the path for me. In high school, I had spent two years doing clinical rotations at a local hospital and the operating room was by far my favorite place to be. With the prospect of vet school eliminated, I started researching growing medical careers that involved work in the operating room. This led me to the American Society of Anesthesiologists website, where it mentioned certified anesthesiologist assistants. Immediately, I was intrigued by their job description and, after looking into the career and shadowing, I fell in love with the job and decided that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I learn best by doing hands-on work, and when I learned that CWRU gets students into the operating room sooner than other schools, I knew this was the program for me.


Cassandra Dunn | Houston

I was born and raised in Georgia, and I graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences. I became a flight attendant for Delta Air Lines after college, because the thought of diving straight into medical school scared me and traveling the world sounded like a better idea at the time. During my adventures, I discovered the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession through a friend currently working in the field. After shadowing her several times at a children’s hospital, I was hooked on the CAA profession and pediatric anesthesia.


Eric Enache | Washington, D.C.

I earned my bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan. After graduation, I stayed in Ann Arbor to work in clinical research at the Veterans Hospital and within a year I came to the conclusion that I wanted a more hands-on, fast-paced career. I learned about the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession from a coworker whose daughter is in the field, and, upon deeper investigation, saw that not only did it align with my interests, but that it also fulfilled them almost perfectly. Interviewing at CWRU was a great experience that served as a confirmation of my initial impressions—the quality of the students, faculty, and facilities were instantly recognizable to me, and I walked out knowing for a fact that if I was accepted, I would go here.


Benjamin Erickson | Washington, D.C.

I earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2017. My initial exposure to the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession came during my sophomore year of undergrad. I was able to shadow at Cleveland Clinic, and my first day in the operating room gave me the chance to reflect on the kind of career in healthcare I would want. After further observation in the operating room and understanding how our healthcare system is shifting towards a focus on advanced practice providers, I realized that becoming a CAA would be a good fit for me due to its focus on critical thinking and hands-on work.


Kelly Featherston | Cleveland

I grew up in Dearborn, Michigan. As a child, I had severe asthma and was hospitalized multiple times, which led me to pursue a career in medicine. I was accepted into Henry Ford Early College, a specialized high school program for students interested in the medical field. At the end of the program, I received both my high school diploma and my Associate Degree in Respiratory Therapy. After a year of working as a respiratory therapist, I decided that I wanted to advance my career. I pursued a pre-medical education at the University of Michigan, where I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience. After working with and shadowing physicians, I decided that being a physician no longer peaked my interest. I found out about the certified anesthesiologist assistant program through another respiratory therapist, and shadowed a CAA. I fell in love with the field! The past six years as a respiratory therapist have provided me vast experience in critical care. I really enjoy working in the trauma center and the pediatric and neonatal intensive care units. I believe my experience as a respiratory therapist will help me to become an excellent CAA.


Iliana Fisher | Washington, D.C.

I was born in El Salvador, but raised in Houston, Texas. I graduated from the University of Houston with a bachelor’s degree in Biology in 2016. Ever since I was small, I knew that I wanted to be part of the healthcare field because I was fascinated with the human body and I wanted to help my community. It wasn’t until later when I started working at Memorial Hermann hospital as an anesthesia technician that I became aware of the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession. Speaking with the alumni from CWRU made me realize how great the program is and how satisfied they are in their work-life balance.


Jaclyn Fleener | Washington, D.C.

I am from Clarksburg, Maryland, which is close to Washington, D.C. I graduated from Providence College with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. I always knew that I wanted to be involved in the medical field, but I wasn’t sure what the best fit for me would be. After graduating, I worked in an human leukocyte antigen typing lab that matched patients with bone marrow donors. I had learned about the MSA Program at Case Western Reserve University from family members who had the opportunity to work with certified anesthesiologist assistants. After shadowing an anesthesiologist, I was drawn to the complexity of anesthesia and the direct patient involvement. The CWRU MSA Program impressed me with its challenging curriculum and hands-on experience. I am excited to start my journey and to help those close to home and my community.


Payam Ghaderi | Houston

I am a native of Houston, graduating from University of Houston with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and went on to earn my master’s degree in Medical Science in Florida. Growing up I stayed active, becoming proficient in a second language, training to play collegiate basketball, and playing the violin for more than six years. As a child I was always fascinated with human physiology and the general sciences, thus taking me down the path of medicine. I was introduced to the MSA Program by a family friend who was an anesthesiologist and who spoke highly of the CWRU MSA Program, which sparked an interest and desire to become an CAA. After shadowing at Memorial Hermann and speaking to other successful CAAs, I knew this was the profession for me. I had found a career in which I could provide quality, hands-on anesthesia care as a trained medical professional—all while being a part of a supportive anesthesia team.


Sierra Glass | Cleveland

I was born in Kent, Ohio. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry with a concentration in Biochemistry from Kent State University. During my undergraduate years, I conducted research on immunological approaches to cancer treatment. I also shadowed physicians and volunteered at medical camps for children with serious illnesses. While always drawn to the medical field, I was undecided about which path I should take until I shadowed a certified anesthesiologist assistant through the CWRU Master of Science in Anesthesia Program. The physiological and pharmaceutical aspects of this career as well as the close patient interactions all drew me to the profession. I am excited to see what these next two years at Case Western Reserve University have in store.


Brijette Gray | Houston

I graduated from Idaho State University with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2012. Shortly after, I moved to Houston, Texas. I then decided that I wanted to pursue a career in healthcare, and went back to school to take the premedical prerequisites. Having looked into a variety of medical specialties, I was unable to find one that I felt really passionate about. I ended up taking the MCAT and subsequently received information from Case Western Reserve University about my potential eligibility to their MSA Program. I did some research and I was sold. I began to shadow certified anesthesiology assistants and CWRU CAA students, and each experience further cemented my interest in not only the profession itself but also CWRU specifically. The program offers a rigorous and innovative curriculum that I feel will really challenge me to become the best CAA possible.


Tedra Hall | Houston

I graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2013 with bachelor’s degrees in Economics and African & African Diaspora Studies. Although not the traditional health professions’ path, by the end of college I had experienced enough variety to be confident that the medical field was where I was purposed to serve. I initially set my sights on medical school, but after starting a family, I realized how important a good work-life balance was for me. While on my pre-med quest, I met an anesthesiologist who said that if she could do it all over again, she would be a certified anesthesiologist assistant and she spoke highly of Case Western Reserve University’s MSA Program. After investigating the program myself, it was clear that this is where I belong.


Michelle Hoathian | Houston

The medical field has always been my interest since I began college at Texas A&M University. I majored in Biomedical Science, and had my mind set on becoming a doctor, but I did not want to limit myself to only medical school. I was open-minded towards other career choices in healthcare, and in my sophomore year, I discovered the CWRU MSA Program by chance. After emailing the school for more information about certified anesthesiologist assistants, I was offered an opportunity to shadow in the Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. From that opportunity, I became certain that becoming a CAA was the right career choice for me because I was impressed with the skills and details a CAA was required to know. It led me to want to become a member of the anesthesia care team.


Lily Hong | Washington, D.C.

I was on the premed track, and starting medical school applications and my first long-term job at a local optometry office. There, I realized I liked the work-life balance, but I still had a passion for working in the health field and learning about the human body. I heard about the MSA Program at Case Western Reserve University. I had never heard of it, and, naturally, I reached out to the program to learn about the curriculum, the profession, and, of course, statistics of getting in, getting a job, and the lifestyle of certified anesthesiologist assistants. I loved every bit of it, and, after shadowing a local CAA and meeting other students already in the program, I knew this was for me. The comradery, the education, the lifestyle that ensues—everything.


Molly Hospelhorn | Cleveland

I have a bachelor’s degree in Sign Language Interpreting from Eastern Kentucky University. I have worked as an interpreter for ten years, but always maintained an interest in the medical field. After shadowing several certified anesthesiologist assistants, I knew this was what I had been looking for. As CAAs, we have the privilege to provide care to patients during a critical time in their lives while working in an environment that encourages problem solving, allows for autonomy, and keeps us on our toes intellectually. What more could we ask for? I am beyond excited to have the opportunity to attend the MSA Program at Case Western University! I recently moved here with my four year old son. Moving during the winter has been quite an experience, but we are loving Cleveland so far.


Austin Hossfeld | Cleveland

I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio and graduated from The Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to do with my degree at first, and I initially stumbled into a position in OSU’s Biosafety Level 3 Program. There, I helped maintain the facilities and contributed to various projects involving tuberculous research. While I found the work interesting, I knew research and biosafety was not the life for me. Through shadowing and volunteering at hospitals, I eventually discovered the certified anesthesiologist assistant career path and fell in love. A quick Google search then brought me to the CWRU MSA Program website, and the rest is history.


Ashley Hudson | Houston

I am from Magnolia, a small town just outside of Houston, Texas. I spent four years on active duty in the United States Army before transitioning into the Texas Army National Guard, in which I served for six years. I received my bachelor’s degree in Biology at the University of Houston-Downtown in December 2017. I always knew I wanted to do something in medicine and found anesthesia to be the most interesting after volunteering at a hospital when I was sixteen, during which I had the opportunity to shadow an anesthesiologist and nurse anesthetist. I originally wanted to go to medical school, but then I found out about the Master of Science in Anesthesia Program at Case Western Reserve University’s Houston location. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but after talking to the staff and current students, I was sold.


Patrick Huguelet | Washington, D.C.

I am from Milford, Michigan, a small town in the Metro Detroit Area. I attended the University of Michigan, where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience. I knew a career in healthcare was my calling because it seemed like the perfect blend of applied natural science and creating interpersonal relationships with patients. I scheduled a shadowing opportunity, and saw the compassion and skill of the certified anesthesiologist assistants. This solidified my desire to pursue anesthesia specifically. It was such a rewarding experience, and I was happy to discover that the field is expanding and that there are so many opportunities to engage with and grow the profession.


Ijeabalum Ibezue | Washington, D.C.

My family is originally from Nigeria, but I was born and raised primarily in the United States. I knew I wanted a career in medicine because I have always had a huge interest in issues regarding healthcare disparities and health inequities. My curiosities lead me to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Biology at the University of Cincinnati on the premed track. Throughout the years, I have been involved in various aspects of healthcare including shadowing, working as a medical scribe, volunteering in the emergency room, studying public health issues abroad in Ghana, and working in various laboratory settings. My initial intention was to go to medical school, but I was becoming increasingly hesitant about doing so due to lifestyle demands on many physicians. I began exploring other healthcare professions and I was introduced to the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession. After doing extensive research, shadowing, and talking with individuals in the field, I made the decision to pursue this career path. This profession encompasses everything I ever wanted in a career!


Kelbie Kerr | Houston

I was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After high school, I moved to Mobile, Alabama to attend the University of South Alabama where I completed my bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences with a minor in Chemistry. After completing undergraduate research on metastatic breast cancer, I began contemplating careers. I originally thought that I wanted to attend medical school after shadowing many specialties, and, while in the process of applying, I learned about the MSA Programs from another classmate whose family member was a practicing certified anesthesiologist assistant. I shadowed an anesthesiologist at the University of South Alabama Children and Women’s Hospital, and I immediately knew that this was the specialty in which I would enjoy having a career. I gained more knowledge on the aspects of the anesthesia care team and each specific role, and I decided that CAA was the specific role that I believed would be best fit.


Anna Kim | Cleveland

I am from Dallas, Texas and graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with a bachelor’s degree in Child Learning and Development. Although my major was more related to psychology, I had always intended to pursue a career in the medical field, but was uncertain of which path to take. However, an anesthesiologist I met on a medical mission trip to Africa suggested I look into becoming a certified anesthesiologist assistant. After some research, I made the trip to Cleveland to shadow a CAA through the CWRU MSA Program, and made the decision to pursue this path. I was very pleased to hear the positive experiences other CAA professionals and students had throughout their career and learning experiences.


Rikki Kucinski | Cleveland

Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, I graduated from Miami University with a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and a minor in Spanish. Although I had always been interested in a career in medicine, I struggled to find my place in the field. After graduation, I started working as a research technician at the Cleveland Clinic, focusing on the pathogenesis of Multiple Sclerosis. Working at the Cleveland Clinic gave me the opportunity to not only shadow multiple health professionals, but to also take the time to truly reflect on what I was looking for in a career. Coincidentally, my neighbor, who is a certified anesthesiologist assistant, introduced me to this program and, after shadowing him, I knew I had found my niche. I thrived on the dynamic, fast-pace work environment as well as the empathetic patient interaction.


Nechemiah Kushner | Cleveland

After studying abroad and finishing my bachelor’s degree in Chicago, I took some time off of school to work and think about my future. Having a career in medicine had always been a goal of mine, but when it came to applications and committing to years of schooling I realized that there were more options available than the traditional paths. After multiple recommendations from physicians and certified anesthesiologist assistants in the area, I decided to look into the Master of Science in Anesthesia Program at Case Western Reserve University—and I’m happy I did! Being able to work in a clinical setting and providing patient care after only two years of medical training at a top twenty-five medical school (and, not to mention, the great job outlook) really solidified the fact that this program was a perfect fit for me!


Alexis Lambros | Washington, D.C.

I grew up in New York, and later attended High Point University in North Carolina for my bachelor’s degree in Biology. My entire life I knew I wanted to be a part of the healthcare field and thought I would eventually become a physician. After graduating, I became a medical scribe, and though I knew healthcare was the right field for me, I was unsure about going to medical school or the life of a physician. I began exploring more options and became very intrigued by the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession. After further investigation and application, I knew CWRU’s Master of Science in Anesthesia program was the fit for me!


Samuel Lind | Washington, D.C.

My current hometown is Charlotte, North Carolina, but I spent the majority of my life in Indiana. I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, receiving bachelor’s degrees in both Biology and Psychology with a minor in Chemistry. At Chapel Hill, I was continuously involved in my pre-health society, which led to a shadowing opportunities with a certified anesthesiologist assistant. This exposure sparked my interest in the field and eventually led me to the CWRU MSA Program. I’m honored to be a member of the CWRU MSA Class of 2020 in Washington D.C., and am excited for what the future holds!


Jose Lara Loayze | Houston

The medical sciences were always very appealing to me. I did my undergraduate studies at Florida Atlantic University, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences. In order to keep pursuing my passion for the medical field, I worked at a hospital as a certified nurse assistant, an EKG technician, and a phlebotomist. I worked in pre-op, same-day surgery, and PACU. During my time there, I became really interested in the field of anesthesia and was able to see the important role the anesthesia care team plays in the surgical department. I knew I wanted to be a certified anesthesiologist assistant after I researched schools and found the MSA Program at Case Western Reserve University. The CWRU MSA Program is one of the pioneers in the field with the Houston location being next to one of the biggest medical centers in the world. The diversified clinical experience the school offers is one of the key factors that drew me to this school. I’m very excited and honored to be part of this great program.


Anh Lee | Houston

My journey within the healthcare industry began at the University of Texas at Austin, where I earned a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering in 2015. Because of my love for both science and mathematics, I pursued a career that combined the complexities of cellular and molecular biology with the principles of engineering. I started my career in industry, working as a field engineer for a startup company specializing in radiology equipment. Soon after, I had the privilege to join the sales support team for a well-known medical devices company staffed in the operating rooms at Memorial Herman Hospital. After observing many medical professionals across different surgical specialties, I found that anesthesiology was the most intriguing to me. As an engineer, I knew that my work contributed indirectly to patient care; however, becoming a certified anesthesiologist assistant would enable me to be directly involved as well as equip me with the skills and training to know that patients’ lives are safe in my hands.


Paul Manganaro | Washington, D.C.

I was born and raised in Slinger, Wisconsin. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2018 with my bachelor’s degree in Pharmacology and Toxicology. I became interested in the sciences during my high school years, and, after my first few years of college, I became interested in the certified anesthesiologist assistant program after shadowing and talking to students going through the program. The complex physiology and pharmacology is what drew me towards the profession as well as its rapid growth. From that point on, I set my goals to become as prepared as I could for the MSA Program.


Michael Mangiapani | Washington, D.C.

I grew up in Vero Beach, Florida, and always had an interest in science and medicine. In high school, I shadowed orthopedic surgeons to get a taste of what working in an operating would be like. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Biology at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. After graduation, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in medicine, but was unsure about my next step. I decided to work at Duke University’s Human Vaccine Institute, researching HIV vaccine designs, where I stayed for two years. Later, I earned my master’s degree in Medical Physiology at North Carolina State University. Afterwards, I began to consider specific careers in medicine in more depth, and I eventually found the Master of Science in Anesthesia Program at Case Western Reserve University in Washington, D.C. I knew this was the path for me.


Brendon Martinez | Houston

I graduated in 2017 with bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Houston. My intentions of entering the medical field have been with me since middle school. I even went to a high school that specialized in medical exposure for all four years. I capitalized a lot of my experiences around attending medical school, but the closer I got to finishing my degree the more I was unsure about that route. It wasn’t until my junior year, in a biochemistry lab, that I was introduced to the CWRU MSA Program by a lab partner. From there, I did research, shadowed, and fell in love with the fact that I would be a part of a surgical team–all while helping those in need in the field I’ve always pursued. Thus, I knew this program was for me. Now, I am both excited and thankful for the opportunity given to me and can’t wait to train at one of the most renowned medical centers in the country.


Brooke McDonald | Washington, D.C.

I earned by bachelor’s degree in Neurobiology from the University of Cincinnati. Since I was eleven, I have always had a passion for science and I knew that one day I would work in the medical field. My interests constantly changed, but my love for how drugs affect the brain and body stayed constant. I thought medical school was my end goal, but realized in college it wasn’t the best fit for me. Then I came across the CWRU MSA Program and it seemed too good to be true. After shadowing several certified anesthesiologist assistants, I felt so at home and loved every second of it.


Josiah McFarland | Washington, D.C.

I graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences. I originally entered the university as an engineering major, but quickly changed my focus to the medical field after some exposure volunteering and interning. Although my mind was set on medical school, I came across the CWRU MSA Program randomly in an email from a school organization. Immediately intrigued by what CWRU offered, I scheduled a visit and shadowing appointment. The job of a certified anesthesiologist assistant seemed to fit my desires perfectly. Patient interaction, responsibility, and manageable work hours were all included. It was hard to pass on such a great opportunity with so much praise from current students and professionals.


Mallory Mews | Cleveland

Born and raised in small town Bonduel, Wisconsin, I attended Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with high hopes of gaining exposure to the dynamic field of health and medicine. I had previously talked to only two health-related professionals in my life: my own doctor at a local clinic, and a physical therapist who doubled as an athletic trainer. So, I began my career search with the obvious—I shadowed a physician. On my most memorable (and arguably life-changing) shadowing experience in the operating room, the anesthesiologist brought up the new local anesthesiologist assistant program. The more the program and the profession was discussed, the more intrigued I became. I had always enjoyed my shadowing experiences in the operating room, but never found myself particularly drawn to the scalpel. Needless to say, the opportunity to pursue a career in anesthesia;, fulfill a very important function in the operating room; work closely with patients; complete school in just two years; and maintain a near perfect work-life balance in the future seemed too good to be true – yet it is true.


Austin Moats | Houston

Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology from Florida State University in 2018. My mother’s career as a registered nurse originally stimulated my interest in healthcare. In the summers between semesters, I would shadow various healthcare professionals at a local hospital. After spending extensive time with a certified anesthesiologist assistant, I decided this was the career I most wanted. The operating room setting was appealing to me, and I enjoyed the aspect of teamwork in patient care. I dedicated the rest of my undergraduate time to meet the requirements to apply to a MSA Program. Case Western Reserve University’s reputation and status in the anesthesia community drew me to this program.


Mwaibviseni Mutezo | Houston

I was born and raised in Zimbabwe, and moved to the United States after high school. I graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in Zoology and Biomedical Sciences. After a few years of working and additional post-graduate education within healthcare, I found out about the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession from an anesthesiologist. I was immediately interested, and did research before making the decision to apply. I’m excited to join a growing and highly fulfilling profession with evolving opportunities for growth and personal development.


George Nicolas | Houston

I was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, and completed my bachelor’s degree in Biology at Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio. After completing my undergraduate studies, I stayed in Canton to do research. I knew during this time that I wanted to pursue a career in the medical field, but couldn’t decide on which direction to take, so I began exposing myself to various specialties to get a better sense of direction. After many weeks of shadowing, I began working as a medical scribe in the emergency department at Sierra Providence. It was during this time that I discovered the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession and decided that this was the path meant for me.


George Patterson | Cleveland

I am from Berkley, Michigan, and graduated from Northern Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry. I have always wanted to be in the medical field, but I wasn’t exactly sure where I fit in. Therefore, I shadowed many different healthcare professions, but it wasn’t until I shadowed an anesthetist after I graduated from NMU that I knew this profession was where I was meant to be. The work-life balance that certified anesthesiologist assistants enjoy is amazing for the healthcare field, and I love that CAAs take care of patients in their most vulnerable state. As a CAA, I know that I can truly save someone’s life if they’re in a sticky situation. Additionally, every CAA I have met absolutely loves their job and never regrets this career path!


Dean Pham | Washington, D.C.

As a self-proclaimed liberal arts nerd, I enjoyed the humanities and social sciences in school. I wanted to apply those philosophical theories to health and disease. I completed a bachelor’s degree in Ethnic Studies from The University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in Public Health at the The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. After I graduated, I worked as a research associate in pediatric surgery, looking at the human factors associated with quality improvement, patient safety, and reducing preventable errors in hospitals. My first exposure to anesthesia was during our safety simulations, where I discovered how vital these professionals were not only in the operating room, but across multiple hospital units. I drifted toward the anesthesiologists who became my mentors and were encouraging when I decided to apply to certified anesthesiologist assistant programs. I look forward to gaining the clinical knowledge and skills befitting a CWRU CAA. I hope to combine my insights from public health training with my work as a CAA.


LiMei Qin | Houston

I was born and raised in China, but came to the United States at age twelve. My experience, as a patient and a family member of the critically ill, evoked a strong interest in becoming a healthcare provider. During college, I volunteered in several hospitals and participated in a summer internship in the operating room where I was able to shadow surgeons and anesthetists. During this experience, I was heavily exposed to the operating room atmosphere and was amazed by the collaboration between the surgical team. I was especially drawn to the work of the anesthesiologists and CRNAs as I observed them carefully monitoring the patient, keeping her stable, pain-free, and comfortable while ensuring electrolytes were within limits. After graduating from college with a bachelor’s degree in Biology, I wanted to explore other areas of medicine and began working as a clinical medical assistant in Family Medicine and Dermatology. Through these experiences, I gained a deeper understanding into the lifestyle of a physician and realized that becoming a doctor was not suitable for me. With self-reflection and reevaluation of my goals and passions as well as my skills and interests, I began considering other careers in the operating room and discovered the CWRU MSA Program. After shadowing a CAA at a local hospital, I realized that the work of a CAA offers new challenges, flexible hours, and a quality lifestyle that is ideal to me.


Aaron Rushing | Houston

I am originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and I attended the University of New Mexico where I earned my bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering in hopes of pursuing a fulfilling career in microelectronics. I soon realized that engineering did not afford me enough of an opportunity to use all of the interpersonal skills I had to offer, so I began exploring other career paths. In talking with a close friend of mine who had recently attended the CWRU MSA program, I began researching the field and eventually shadowed an certified anesthesiologist assistant in the operating room. The fast-paced analytical nature of an anesthetist’s role during surgery provided everything I was looking for in a profession, and I decided to go back to school to take the required prerequisite courses to apply.


Allison Schroeder | Cleveland

I was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, where I first became interested in the medical field through my personal experience with injuries. I graduated from The Ohio State University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and minor in Chemistry. Upon graduation, I returned to Chicago to pursue a research assistantship at University of Chicago Medicine, where I studied the role of inflammation in cardiovascular disease. I learned of the Master of Science in Anesthesia Program at Case Western Reserve University through a friend, and instantly admired the balance of mental challenges and hands-on patient experience within the profession. I look forward to treating a variety of cases and patients while working alongside other medical professionals.


Farahnaz Shafiey | Houston

I completed an associate degree in Anesthesiology at Iran Medical School University, and then completed a bachelor’s degree in Public Safety and Emergency Management. Afterwards, I had the opportunity to work as an anesthesiology assistant at various hospitals in Iran. My career was very rewarding, and after I moved to Houston, I completed post-baccalaureate science courses at Texas Southern University and Houston Community College so that I could continue in this career in the United States. I’m thankful that the leadership at CWRU believed in me, and granted me the chance to study at such a remarkable program. I’m looking forward to acquiring knowledge and skills that will enable me to help patients in the United States!


Benjamin Shultes | Cleveland

During my senior year of high school, I was honored to participate in a program that allowed me to go on rotations with doctors, nurses, therapists and other medical professionals. This invaluable experience inspired me to attended Case Western Reserve University and complete a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry with a minor in Physics while following the premeded track. I knew I wanted to be in the medical field, but I wasn’t certain which career path suited me. Having grown up in upstate New York, I was unfamiliar with the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession until I learned about it through a friend in college. After shadowing a CAA, I knew I had discovered the ideal fit for me. I enjoyed the balance of patient interaction and the chemistry behind pharmacology.


Brett Siemon | Washington, D.C.

I grew up in Springfield, Ohio and attended Wittenberg University, where I earned a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with a minor in Sociology. My interest in the medical field began my senior year in high school due to some illness in my family. Initially, I planned to attend medical school for Neurology, but after some reflection and many conversations with current doctors, I decided not to go that route my senior year of college. I had already taken the MCAT, and I heard about the CWRU MSA Program. After learning about the career, I asked around the hospital where I volunteered about the profession. Everyone I asked had great things to say about CRNAs and CAAs. I shadowed an CAA and loved the operating room experience.


Emil Simon | Houston

After graduating from Houston Baptist University with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and English, I was unsure as to which field of interest to pursue. I loved literature and art. However, I also loved human biology and being a practical problem-solver. I loved working in labs, hovering over impressive bio-tech equipment, and making precise decisions that gave tangible results. During my gap year, I spent time shadowing doctors as well as working as a Montessori teacher. I shuffled through quite a few choices for healthcare professions before I was introduced to the CWRU MSA Program through a friend and an anesthesiologist. After spending some time in the operating room with a certified anesthesiologist assistant, it felt like something immediately clicked. The career felt patient-centered, fast-paced, diverse, and, above all, satisfying. My first day shadowing in the operating room, I saw a patient’s emergence from anesthesia. At that very moment, healing took a tangible form. It was duende.


Hannah Sneyd | Washington, D.C.

I was raised in Tucson, Arizona where I earned my bachelor’s degree in Psychology and my master’s degree in Cellular and Molecular Medicine from the University of Arizona. My interest in health and science began during my undergraduate career. After working fulltime in a biomedical engineering lab following undergrad, I became more interested in the clinical aspect of medicine and decided to working as a research specialist in trauma surgery while completing my masters. My initial shadowing experience in anesthesia, along with my clinical experience and time spent in the operating room, led to my pursuit of the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession. After spending time with a practicing CAA and seeing their involvement in patient perioperative care, I became fascinated with the profession and knew it would be a fulfilling, long-term career.


Maithreyi Srikanth | Cleveland

I'm from Rochester Hills, Michigan. I graduated from the University of Michigan in April 2018 with bachelor’s degrees in Biopsychology, Cognition and Neuroscience, and Evolutionary Anthropology. I've always known that I wanted to be a medical professional of some kind, and for a long time I thought that meant attending medical school. So, I took the MCAT after my junior year of college and applied in that cycle. But during that time I found out about the MSA Program at Case Western Reserve University, and found myself really interested in it. I did research into the certified anesthesiologist assistant career and decided that it fit perfectly with my academic interests and gave me the work-life balance that I wanted.


Jenna Staikoff | Cleveland

I am from Cleveland, Ohio, and I graduated from The Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology. Early in my undergraduate career, I heard about the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession through a friend and decided to shadow. While shadowing, I learned of the many advantages of being a CAA. The profession combined my interest in physiology, medicine and helping others into one fulfilling career. I gained more insight into healthcare by volunteering, obtaining my EMT-B certification and working as a cardiac monitor technician at the Cleveland Clinic. These experiences helped further solidify my decision to apply to the MSA Program at Case Western Reserve University.


Daniel Stelzer | Cleveland

I am originally from St. Louis, Missouri, and I earned my bachelor’s degree in Natural Science at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio where I played rugby for four years. I had been set on medical school since I started college, particularly after volunteering with children with Muscular Dystrophy. As college progressed, I realized that despite my desire to be involved in healthcare, medical school was not the right choice for me. After looking for other options, I came across information for MSA Program at Case Western Reserve University. As I researched the profession further, it seemed to better fit my desire to serve others through hands-on healthcare and patient interaction. I found anesthesia to be particularly interesting because it includes reactions that occur on a molecular scale that have effects on much larger scale anatomical structures. What helped confirm my decision was shadowing a fellow Xavier grad who had graduated from the CWRU MSA Program. His perspective on the importance of certified anesthesiologist assistants in the operating room to ensure the safety and peace of mind for their patients was the final bit of motivation that landed me at CWRU.


Jenny Timineri | Washington, D.C.

My heart was set on medicine after working in mobile clinics in Cape Town, South Africa during my junior year study abroad. I graduated one year later from the University of Rochester with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, where I focused primarily on neuroscience and developmental biology. After graduating, I became a board registered EEG tech, where I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with neuromonitoring techs. The first awake craniotomy I saw made me instantly fall in love with the operating room setting. I started a post-baccalaureate program and took my MCAT in the hopes of becoming a surgeon, but I soon realized that I needed a career that would allow me more balance outside of the operating room. While I was applying to medical school, I learned about the CWRU MSA Program, researched the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession, and instantly knew it was for me.


Alexander Tran | Houston

Born and raised in Houston, Texas, I graduated from the University of Houston in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Public Health. I have always been interested in medicine as a kid, and my interest developed into a passion as I grew older. My fascination with anesthesia sparked when, ironically, I had my first surgery on my rotator cuff due to an injury I sustained while swimming. The accountability that anesthesiologists exude and what they are able to do with their profession absolutely captivated me. I have always worked in pharmaceutical settings, to become familiar with drugs and to learn the ins and outs of medicine. I worked as a medical assistant to receive hands-on experience, and shadowed as an intern at MD Anderson Cancer Center - Anesthesiology Perioperative Department, in the world’s largest medical center. I first learned about the CWRU MSA Program when a friend was accepted into Case Western Reserve University in Houston. Joining CWRU is an absolute dream come true. I look forward to fulfilling my dream career as an AA, and advocating for this unique profession and everything it has to offer.


Melissa Tran | Houston

I obtained my bachelor's degree at the University of Miami in 2017, but was raised in Dallas, Texas. I had worked as a pharmacist technician for over five years. I learned that I enjoy the aspect of providing medication to better patient health, but would prefer to administer and directly witness the effects of this medication myself. From there, my interest in anesthesia grew. After shadowing different anesthetists in multiple settings of practice, I believed becoming a certified anesthesiologist assistant was the best route for me.


Phelan Trinh | Houston

I didn’t always know that I wanted to be in medicine, but my firm belief in learning through firsthand experience and exploration eventually led me to become a certified anesthesiologist assistant. After teaching, receiving business and research internships, and earning a bachelor’s degree in Bioengineering at the University of Washington, I found the greatest level of self-fulfillment and satisfaction in the field of healthcare by working at SightLife, a nonprofit eye bank, surgically recovering corneas. At my next job, I postprocessed hundreds of CT and MRI scans. There, I appreciated the team dynamic, but missed the operating room. When I discovered the role of physician extenders, I became elated; shifting their time and attention towards the patients instead of navigating the politics of healthcare was exactly what I desired. I became more specifically interest in anesthesia when I shadowed Dr. Nam Hung Tu at Houston Methodist, and she told me how much she loved the anesthesia care team model. The ability to take away pain safely is simply fascinating to me.


Pavel Vaisberg | Cleveland

I was born in Minsk, Belarus, and moved to Columbus, Ohio at the age of two. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry in 2016 from The Ohio State University, and recently completed my master’s degree in Medical Physiology at Case Western Reserve. I believed my entire life that I wanted to go to medical school to become a surgeon. I loved learning science and doing hands-on work, and became attracted to surgery when I learned that I could do both simultaneously. However, during my education, I began to realize that the life that medical students and doctors live was not for me. I am thankful to an old friend who is currently in the MSA Program for telling me about this program because working as a certified anesthesiologist assistant will still give me the rewarding life that I always wanted. I know from experience how great the instructors are at CWRU, and I am extremely excited to continue my education here.


Taylor Vance | Washington, D.C.

I was born and raised in Colorado, where I grew up loving the outdoors. I attended school at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, where I worked in the dining hall as the Student Unit Operations Manager. I also worked as a scribe in several emergency rooms throughout the Denver metro area. Since my early teens, it has been my goal to work in anesthesiology. I first heard of the program from a family friend, and it has held my attention ever since. I decided on the CWRU MSA Program’s Washington, D.C. location after visiting the program and falling in love the staff, location, and the city.


Clay White | Washington, D.C.

I was born and raised outside of Columbus, Ohio. After high school, I attended The Ohio State University where I majored in Biology and was also a member of the varsity diving team. I have known for a long time that I wanted to work in the medical field, but was unsure which path to take. During my sophomore year of college, I shadowed an anesthesiologist who told me about certified anesthesiology assistants and it really caught my interest. I spent time in the operating room with some CAAs, and discovered that this was the career that I wanted to pursue.


Jose Yap | Cleveland

While in pursuit of a medical career I have found that there are certain personal characteristics vital for success. Those bearings include determination, personal integrity, unyielding dedication, industriousness and genuine interest in serving others. These attributes have provided me with the motivation to pursue a career in anesthesia. I believe this specialty encompasses all the disciplines and principles in medicine that makes the practice dynamic. What makes it exciting is that you can never remain complacent, and should always remain judicious and vigilant. I have always known myself to be calm and insightful in periods of stress, which is essential in this field. An anesthesiologist friend of mine suggested that I consider a career as an certified anesthesiologist assistant. After extensive research and reflection, I applied to CWRU MSA Program.


Michelle Yensel | Washington, D.C.

My father was in the United States Air Force, and growing up, we moved a lot. Eventually, my father retired and we settled in Browns Mills, New Jersey. In 2018, I graduated from Rowan University with a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences and a minor in Psychology. Like many others, I initially wanted to attend medical school. Specifically, I wanted to work in the operating room. After shadowing numerous doctors, I was disappointed when many physicians advised me to pursue a different career path. A friend of mine who was leaving for medical school in the Caribbean advised me to look into a Master of Science in Anesthesia Program, which was the route he wished he would have taken. Two weeks later, I drove from New Jersey to Ohio to shadow a certified anesthesiologist assistant at the CWRU MSA Program in Cleveland. I could tell that the CAA I shadowed really enjoyed his job, and that there was nothing else he’d rather do with his life. He stressed how much he loved the flexibility of the profession, the work-life balance, and the time he had to spend with his family. This was when I knew that the CAA profession was the right choice for me. It would give me everything I wanted in a career: working in a team setting in an operating room and being able to balance a family and a career.