Class of 2021 Biographies

Zukhruf Ali | Houston

I was born and raised in the suburbs of Houston, Texas, where I attended the University of Houston. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biology with university honors in 2019. I also earned minors in Medicine and Society and Spanish for the Global Professions. Although I always intended to go into healthcare, I was not exactly sure in what capacity. I first learned of the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession when shadowing an anesthesiologist at Children’s Memorial Hermann through a student organization. It was through this experience that I realized just how extensive the anesthesia care team is and the different professions within it. I was able to speak to anesthesiologist assistants, students of the CWRU MSA Program, anesthesiologists, anesthesia residents, and nurse anesthetists. I concluded the experience completely intrigued and, after extensive research, found myself adamant in being a part of this program. I love that the profession offers constant challenge, ample patient interaction, and the opportunity to play an important role in a patient’s healthcare experience. I am honored to have been accepted into this program and look forward to growing into a medical professional of the highest caliber.


Taryn Arcarese | Cleveland

I grew up in Monument, Colorado, and graduated from Colorado State University with a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences where I was a four-year varsity athlete in softball. I continued my studies at Colorado State, and earned my master’s degree in 2018. My experience working at a primary care health clinic in a low-income community solidified my desire to serve through the medical profession. However, I struggled to find a career option I felt fit my personality and skillset until I discovered the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession. After shadowing an anesthesiologist for a day and seeing how he worked with the operating room team to solve problems as well as his patient interaction convinced me that this is the career for me. I am especially attracted to the anesthesia care team model that a CAA works in and to be able to pursue this career at CWRU is an honor. I’m excited to be a part of the Class of 2021 and begin this next step in my journey!


Mohamed Askar | Cleveland

I attended Michigan State University, where I received my bachelors’ degree in Microbiology. Initially I was on a premedical track with plans of attending medical school. Upon graduation, I was uncertain about medical school, but because of my passion for medicine and genuine interest in helping others, I was determined to find my place in the healthcare field. I learned about the CWRU MSA Program through a family friend. I was able to schedule a shadowing opportunity at University Hospitals in Cleveland, where I had the opportunity to observe a certified anesthesiologist assistant and a first-year MSA student. I was impressed with the high level of care these professionals provide and the amount of time they spend with patients. One of the things that attracted me to the CWRU MSA Program is the early exposure to the operating room. Like many others, I learn better when I’m observing and getting involved with hands-on demonstrations.


Emily Ausloos | Washington, D.C.

I was born and raised in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a bachelor’s degree in Neurobiology in 2018. Throughout my undergraduate career I was heavily involved in research and thought that I would continue on to pursue a PhD in Physiology after graduation; however, after a few years of research, I realized it was not the best fit for me because I wanted to have more direct patient interaction. A friend of mine recommended the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession, and I began to shadow at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee. After learning more about the profession and shadowing several CAAs, I knew this was what I wanted to do. The field’s rapid growth along with its integration of physiology, pharmacology, and patient interaction are the aspects that drew me in. As fate would have it a few of the CAAs that I shadowed were graduates from the CWRU MSA Program in Washington. I’m excited to follow the same path.


Feras Banna | Cleveland

I was born in Chicago, but grew up on Cleveland’s West Side. I started my career as a respiratory therapist, where I have been introduced to many skilled anesthesiologists. At my employment in the surgical intensive care unit (SICU), I have always been impressed by how well those physicians and anesthesiologists managed patient care. In the SICU, I learned that healthcare demands teamwork and communication. They trusted respiratory therapists to manage ventilators and make ventilator changes as needed, but when complications occur we reached out to the anesthesiologist to find the appropriate course of action. Years later, I was working in a PACU and met a certified anesthesiologist assistant student who told me about the profession and how happy he was. When I decided to further my career, I have shadowed anesthesia providers and was very impressed with the CAA profession and the amount of focus each patient received. I knew that CWRU was the school for me! I am excited to continue to learn about human physiology and chemistry in order to help patients get through a surgery in a safe environment.


Douglas Blakely | Washington, D.C.

I am from Flossmoor, Illinois, a southern suburb of Chicago. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from The University of Missouri - Columbia in 2017. In my time at Mizzou, I was heavily involved in music performance, research, and tutoring in the biological and nutritional sciences. I revived the local chapter of the Minority Association of Pre-Health Students, and served the community through the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. After graduation, I worked for a year and a half in an optometrist office, which showed me how much I enjoy connecting with and caring for patients. I always wanted to pursue a career in medicine, but, honestly, I was dissatisfied with the idea of having to sacrifice so many of my extracurricular interests for a career. What excites me the most about this pathway to anesthesia is the opportunity to immediately become a part of such a rapidly expanding profession. The certified anesthesiologist assistant profession provides the opportunity to be hands-on with patients, take their pain away, and give them access to surgeries to improve their quality of life. I have the opportunity to advocate for a profession, and provide a clinical education for the next generation of anesthetists. Most importantly, this profession provides a quality of life that is unheard of in medicine, and I could not be more excited about starting my journey at CWRU!


Patrick Bonano | Cleveland

I received my bachelor’s degree in Biology from Case Western Reserve University in 2019. I focused on organismal topics, such vertebrate zoology. Normally these studies wouldn’t translate well to the CWRU MSA Program, but a lot of my work focused on topics similar to anesthesia, such as pain reception and the moral and philosophical issues of welfare. I learned about the program as a sophomore, and was hooked immediately. Anesthesia had interested me even as a child, and I had planned to go to medical school and become an anesthesiologist. My number one career goal is ultimately to help people. This profession fulfills this spectacularly, in that I am directly responsible for aiding patients through surgery, as well as the fact that I can see the results of my work in real time. This, coupled with the unique combination of individual and team-oriented work environments that this field offers, will make sure that every day on the job will be just as exciting and fulfilling as the last. Once I did some research on certified anesthesiologist assistants, I knew right away that it was everything I was looking for in a career. I specifically chose the CWRU MSA Program because of its excellent track record of preparing students to become excellent anesthetist, and the fact that CWRU MSA students almost immediately begin in a clinical setting. As a CWRU alumnus, the level of excellence doesn’t surprise me.


Shawn Brewer | Washington, D.C.

I was born and raised in southeast Michigan, and I earned my bachelor's degree in biology at Alma College in 2016. I then continued my education at the University of Toledo, where I obtained a master's degree in biomedical science in 2018. Before being accepted into this program I had been working at a pain clinic in Ypsilanti, Michigan under three fantastic anesthesiologists. Here I gained valuable insight into the practice of anesthesia watching countless procedures. I had first learned about the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession while working at the clinic when a patient informed me of the field and peaked my interest. After looking further into it and all it had to offer, I knew it was where I needed to be. Outside of school and work, I enjoy backyard games, playing sports, watching a good comedy, and meeting new people. I am really looking forward to being a part of this incredible and compassionate community of anesthesia care providers and learning all I can to help patients in need.


John Butrus | Washington, D.C.

To put my knowledge of human biochemistry and physiology to use to provide care to others who may need it was always my dream and vision throughout my studies and post-graduate life. After receiving my bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences, I enrolled into medical school on the Caribbean island of Dominica. I completed two years in the basic science curriculum before I made the difficult decision to withdraw from the program before the initiation of clinical rotations. Upon returning home to family in Northern Virginia, I began to research various opportunities and professional avenues. I was fortunate to have shadowed an anesthesiologist and CNRAs in the Washington Metro area, and was exposed to the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession. I became fascinated with working in a team setting to ensure optimal patient care in an operating environment and striving in this new opportunity to make my dreams reality. I was drawn towards the CWRU MSA Program due to the emphasis on clinical exposure and technologically-driven simulated training offered to students in an engaging, collaborative setting.


Celsie Channell | Cleveland

I was born and raised in Canal Fulton, Ohio. I majored in Biology and minored in Chemistry at the University of Akron. I always knew I wanted a career in science and eventually found a passion for healthcare after working as a medical scribe at Aultman Hospital in Canton, Ohio. I struggled to find a career that really fit my goals and desired lifestyle until I shadowed a certified anesthesiologist assistant through the CWRU MSA Program. I loved how involved and challenging the position was, and knew instantly that this career was the perfect fit for me. I have worked with children with disabilities over the past two years, and would love to combine these passions in a career in pediatric anesthesia. The program at CWRU was my first choice because students are immersed in the field and operating room sooner than others, and it offers a whole range of opportunities for students. I am excited to begin this journey close to my hometown and challenge myself daily.


Jana Choberka | Washington, D.C.

I grew up in a small farm town east of Columbus, Ohio with my parents, siblings, and our pet pig Minnie Lou. As an undergraduate at the University of Toledo, I took on several leadership roles such as being a resident advisor, founding member of the Pregnancy Center on Campus, executive board of the Pre-Health Professional fraternity member, and The Bridge president. The Bridge is an organization that actively tries to bridge the gap between the campus and community. I am very passionate about service to others and hope to use my degree to volunteer with Doctors Without Borders. I love to travel, craft, cook and do anything outdoors! I have always wanted to be a part of the medical field and believe that becoming a certified anesthesiologist assistant is the best path for me to achieve my goals. I am super excited to start the CWRU MSA Program and begin a hands-on learning experience in a very established program.


Melanie Cieciuch | Washington, D.C.

I grew up in northern New Jersey just outside of New York City. From the time I was in preschool I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. As a young child, I wanted to become a doctor. It took some research and soul-searching to get to where I am now, but I could not be more excited about my future career as a certified anesthesiologist assistant! I attended the University of Pittsburgh and earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Chemistry. I completed the premedical track, and shadowed doctors and physician extenders throughout my undergraduate career. I felt that the work and lifestyle of a physician assistant suited me well, but also fell in love with anesthesiology. So, while rapidly trying to figure out a final plan my senior year, a Google search and a stroke of luck presented me with the CAA profession. I had finally found my niche!


Mark Coelho | Washington, D.C.

At a young age, I discovered I had a passion for the medical field. This led me to declare a biology major and premedical focus at the University of Maryland, College Park. While in undergrad, I realized that I learn best with hands-on learning. At my school’s Health Professions Graduate School Recruitment Fair, I learned about the CWRU MSA Program and realized that this would be a great fit for me. I shadowed an anesthesiologist, and was fascinated by what they do. I am excited that I will be joining this profession. I am also very blessed to have the opportunity to study at CWRU. I look forward to playing a crucial role in the operating room as a certified anesthesiologist assistant to help a patient have a successful surgery. I am very excited and honored to join the MSA Program.


Joyce Contreras | Houston

I was born in Ecuador, and lived there for seven years before moving to Florida with my family. I attended the University of Florida and graduated Cum Laude in May 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. Attending UF was one of the best decisions I ever made because it opened unimaginable opportunities for me. From going on a medical service trip to Delhi, India to shadowing anesthesiologists and anesthesiologist assistants at Shand’s Hospital, where I grew passionate about helping others. I am thankful and excited to start this new journey in my life with the CWRU MSA Program in Houston, Texas!


Jordan Cordova | Washington, D.C.

I was born in Denver, Colorado, and earned my bachelor’s degree in Mind, Brain, and Behavior Psychology from Colorado State University. Well before I began college, I knew that I wanted to impact lives in a positive way. Through my family’s involvement in the Labor Movement, fighting for affordable and quality healthcare in Colorado has always been a part of my upbringing. It was when I began my classes that I established an appreciation for the human brain and psychology. After a few short semesters, the sole knowledge of the human mind and brain just wasn’t enough to keep me satisfied. This is when I started taking more science-based classes. It was this intrinsic love for science and people that kindled my interest in pursuing a career as a healthcare provider. After researching different fields of medicine I decided to explore anesthesiology. I have had several opportunities to shadow multiple anesthesiologists and certified anesthesiologist assistants. Anesthesiology, as I’ve come to understand it, both supplements and supports all other fields of medicine. I find this field to be the perfect balance of patient interactions, clinical practice, and rapid analytical thinking. I am thankful that I can continue to pursue my passion at the CWRU MSA Program.


Morgan Cortez | Houston

I am from the San Francisco Bay Area. I completed my undergraduate career at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, where I earned a bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences in Physiology and in Latin American Studies with an emphasis in language, culture, and history. I found great value in studying the humanities in conjunction with the sciences and believe this combination, along with my education and training at CWRU, will better me as a healthcare provider able to implement a holistic approach to patient care. I first discovered the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession during my time as a Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center volunteer. I began volunteering as a general medicine aide and transitioned to a labor and delivery aide. Volunteering in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit on the mother baby floor inspired me to pursue a career in anesthesia. I desire the opportunity to impact people's lives in a positive way on a daily basis with a career with a high level of responsibility and autonomy. I am drawn to anesthesia as an art, the role of a CAA in crafting the proper care warranted by each circumstance, and the importance of applying personal judgment and reasoning skills to combine science and the art of medicine.


Tyler Czupil | Washington, D.C.

Originally from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Biobehavioral Health from Penn State University in 2018. The medical field had been my goal for many years, but I was not able to find a specialty that really excited me until I became aware of the CWRU MSA Program. Everyone involved truly seemed passionate about their work and loved their profession. The heavy focus on pharmacology and physiology, in addition to a fast-paced work environment and diversity of cases, let me know that this was the direction I should be headed. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be a part of CWRU MSA and am excited to discover what the next few years in Washington, D.C. hold.


Thomas De La Fuente | Houston

I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. After high school, I served in the U.S. Army MEDEVAC. When I completed my service I had the honor of working for Memorial Hermann on Life Flight in Houston for three years. While rotating in the operating room, I learned of the CWRU MSA Program. It quickly became my goal. I returned to school to complete my bachelor’s degree in Biology. At the start of my final year in college, I took a job with a local fire department. I'm looking forward to being able to advance as a healthcare provider while still having the opportunity to serve the community around me.


Jenna Deer | Houston

I graduated from Louisiana State University with a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and Human Movement Sciences with plans to attend medical school. I love expanding my knowledge and, after many orthopedic surgeries, I fell in love with medicine and the operating room. However, after interning with medical students, residents, and attendings at a local hospital, I found that I didn’t want the lifestyle that surgery would bring me. I surfed the Internet, looking for something that would keep me in the operating room without completely consuming all of my free time. Coincidentally, the next day, CWRU sent me an email about the MSA Program; it immediately sparked my interest. I drove to Houston to shadow a certified anesthesiologist assistant, and I liked what I saw. I applied to the program, and I have been looking forward to starting ever since. I’m thrilled to be a part of something that will expand my knowledge, incorporate teamwork, keep me in the operating room, and offer a good work-life balance. I love to know the cause and effect of things, and this profession will give me so much of that as I learn. I have also always been a huge fan of Houston, so being in a city that offers so much was an added bonus. During my gap year I worked as a case tech, which has even further helped me to solidify that the choice I made was the right one.


Madison Dembinski | Houston

After growing up in a suburb of Chicago, I attended the University of Dayton, where I majored in Biology and minored in Spanish. During my time at Dayton, I volunteered in the Dayton Children’s Hospital emergency room and in the Miami Valley Hospital post-anesthetic care unit. My experiences with patients in the PACU developed my interest in the field of anesthesiology. Luckily, while I was applying to medical schools, I received an email from the CWRU MSA Program inviting me to apply. The more I looked into this program, the more certain I was that this was the best path for me. After completing my degree I began working as a medical scribe in a rural emergency room. During this time I have been able to witness both sedations and intubations and form relationships with many doctors. I look forward to practicing and improving my Spanish in Houston, and I am excited for the clinical experience that the CWRU MSA Program offers.


Linh Duong | Washington, D.C.

I graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Clinical Laboratory Sciences. I am a first-generation Vietnamese immigrant, and only the second person in my family to graduate with a college degree. I began working as a medical technologist. Despite loving my work, I discovered that it lacked the rewarding aspect other healthcare professions seemed to provide. In addition to pursuing a more fulfilling career, I decided to apply to CWRU MSA Program after shadowing an anesthesiologist assistant at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. CWRU seemed to be the perfect fit for me because its simultaneous lecture and rotation structure is similar to my undergraduate program. I hope to provide care for those in need, and to eventually practice overseas in developing countries. I will never forget how fortunate I am to be in a country where I have a chance at an education that will allow me to provide care to those that are less fortunate in countries like Vietnam.


Rashma Faroqui | Washington, D.C.

I was born in Chicago, Illinois and grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. I earned my bachelor’s in Neuroscience and my master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences. During my time as an undergraduate, I worked as a research assistant in a nephrology lab, where I investigated the effects of estrogen on the kidney’s proximal tubule. During this experience, I anesthetized mice and had my first introduction to anesthesia. I volunteered in the emergency department and was motivated to pursue a career in the medical field so that I could have a direct impact on patients as a care provider. While exploring health professions, I found myself fascinated with the operating room. When I shadowed anesthesia providers and met with students from the CWRU MSA Program, I knew this program was the perfect fit for me.


Kasie Feck | Houston

I am graduated from Miami University in Ohio with a double-major in Biology and Premedical Studies and a minor in Spanish. I focused my studies on biochemistry and physiology because I was interested in learning how the body works, and these classes prepared me well for the MCAT and for the CWRU MSA Program. My interest in anesthesia began with a research internship with an anesthesiologist at a children’s hospital in Columbus. This opportunity allowed me to research the pharmacology involved in preventing the incidence of postoperative nausea and vomiting following ambulatory procedures. I applied to both the CWRU MSA Program and medical school, and decided that this program was a better fit for my interest in pharmacology and would allow me to work with patients more quickly. I am excited to use my background in physiology to better understand the pharmacology associated with anesthesia.


Cassandra Flores | Houston

Across the world, Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center in Houston is recognized for its contributions in the medical field. Growing up in Houston, I dreamed of being a part of this renowned network to help others in need. I earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology at the University of Houston-Downtown then a master’s degree in Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Texas at Dallas. Afterwards, I felt ready to begin a medical career and quickly began researching possible professions in the medical field. I came across a certified anesthesiologist assistant and became instantly fascinated with the profession. After shadowing a CAA, I noticed the profession’s duties and responsibilities aligned with my goals. I would help others, work with a team of doctors and nurses, and have autonomy in the operating room to see the procedure from beginning to end. The CAA that I shadowed worked with such ease and expertise during the surgeries. Knowing she was an CWRU MSA alumna, I set my sights on this program. I’m excited to embark on this journey at CWRU and believe my educational background coupled with the guidance of the faculty and staff will help me become a skilled anesthetist. Finally, my dream of being a part of the medical field at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center can become a reality.


Courtney Graff | Houston

I was born and raised in Spring, Texas just north of the Greater Houston Area. I graduated from Baylor University in 2018, where I earned a bachelor’s degree in Health Science and Biochemistry. After experiencing a health scare in high school, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in medicine to help others. My original intent was to attend medical school. However, I began to reevaluate my plans after an internship in Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center my junior year of undergrad. During this internship, I further immersed myself in the world of medicine and had daily contact with a number of professionals in various specialties. While I love all aspects of medicine, anatomy, and physiology, my interest in anesthesia was truly predominate. Ultimately, this experience prompted me to apply to the CWRU MSA Program. I am eager help people by contributing to the surgical team in the operating room, while also having the freedom to pursue my various interests outside of medicine.


Kimberly Guice | Houston

While attending the University of Florida I shadowed many physicians in all sorts of specialties, but nothing captured my heart the way anesthesia did. I have known for years medicine was the route I would peruse, but the specific path was not always clear. When I heard of certified anesthesiologist assistants, I was fortunate to be able to shadow a few at UF-Shands and fell in love with the profession. I am more than ecstatic to have the opportunity to leave my comfort zone in Florida to explore a new city and culture, and to learn and grow with people who share the same passion of anesthesia as I do.


Christopher Hager | Cleveland

I grew up in North Ridgeville, a small city outside of Cleveland, Ohio. I attended Cleveland State University and received my bachelor’s degree in Biology. Like many others applying to this program, I pursued a premedical track throughout undergrad with plans of going to medical school. After graduation, I was fortunate enough to secure a research assistant position at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals. Not long after, my father was diagnosed with cancer and I put applying to medical school on hold to care for him. During this time, I ran into a friend of mine who graduated from Cleveland State who went on to the CWRU MSA Program and who now works as a certified anesthesiologist assistant at University Hospitals. After shadowing her, I was amazed at the amount of autonomy she had as a CAA as well as the variety of cases a CAA encounters on a daily basis. Any thoughts of applying to medical school were soon abandoned, and I knew then that this was the career for me. The years I spent caring for my father taught me how important it is to be an advocate for the patient, which is among the most important duties of a CAA. The level of trust a patient gives you as a care provider, and it is because of this that I look forward to my future as a CAA.


Jamie Heet | Houston

I was born and raised in the Greater St. Louis area and earned my bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Maryville University in St. Louis, Missouri. I have always had a love for science, but my fascination with medicine began when my grandfather was diagnosed with Stage II large B-cell Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2008. His experience with experimental treatments sparked my drive to understand medicine and pursue a career in the medical field. In my first two years of college, I worked as a scribe in the emergency department and was fortunate enough to see a wide variety of medical cases. It was in this capacity that I was first introduced to anesthesia. After shadowing a certified anesthesiologist assistant, I thoroughly enjoyed how dynamic the job was. It include many types of surgical cases and requires an interdisciplinary team approach. However, what I appreciated most during my observation hours was the ongoing need for patient assessment and analysis. I am very excited to be a student in Case Western Reserve University’s Master of Science in Anesthesia Class of 2021.


Jennifer Herrera | Houston

I attended Texas Tech University, where I majored in Microbiology and minored in Chemistry. I knew that I wanted a career in the medical field, specifically anesthesia. I first came across the CWRU MSA Program when I shadowed a certified anesthesiologist assistant at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas. I became intrigued by the career, and quickly wanted to learn more about it. I researched the program and knew that this was the right career path for me. I am thrilled to join a growing profession and to be at one of the largest medical centers in the world. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to pursue an master’s degree at Case Western Reserve University.


Taylor Holewinski | Cleveland

I am from Hortonville, Wisconsin. I attended the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, where I majored in Biology and minored in Chemistry. Throughout my time at Oshkosh, I worked for Fox Valley Hematology and Oncology as a medical assistant. My interpersonal interactions with our patients assured me that I wanted to be involved in healthcare. My interest in anesthesia started early on and I discovered my love of the operating room by shadowing anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists, and anesthesiologist assistants. The teamwork that evolves in the operating room as well as the variety of patients we get to see are just a few reasons why I am confident this is the career for me.


Alexa Hoy | Cleveland

I am a first-generation college student from Cleveland, Ohio. I graduated from Cleveland State University, where I earned a bachelors’ degree in Psychology and Biology in 2017. My interest in the medical field and helping others developed early when my younger brother, Axel, was diagnosed with autism. Growing up as the older sibling of an individual with autism inherently molded me into an advocate, caregiver, and protector. For me, the obstacles and questions that come alongside autism led to scientific curiosity and a natural interest in research. As an undergraduate, I was selected for a summer internship through the Lerner Research Institute at the Cleveland Clinic; I interviewed with the Clinical Research Unit and joined their team in June 2016. After my internship, I was offered a position as a research student and then hired as a full-time employee after graduating. While my original plan was to attend medical school, my work in clinical research helped me realize I enjoy collaborating with others, working under pressure, and problem-solving in a team setting. Once I shadowed with the CWRU MSA Program, I finally felt that my strengths and interests were in line with a challenging yet rewarding profession in healthcare. I am excited to start at CWRU, and know I will receive the strongest educational and clinical experience for becoming a certified anesthesiologist assistant.



Edward Jackson | Houston

I am from West Palm Beach, Florida, and I graduated from Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College at Florida Atlantic University with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. Growing up, I faced many challenging life experiences that influenced me to pursue a career in medicine. It was in my senior year of high school when I was first exposed to the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession while researching requirements for medical school. While on the premedical track in undergrad, I shadowed various doctors and, afterwards, began to desire more flexibility and work-life balance from my career. After researching the CAA profession, I knew this was the right path for me. I am honored and thankful for the opportunity to continue my education at the CWRU MSA Program. I can’t wait to be a part of such an amazing profession.


Ashkan Jahromi | Houston

I am an Iranian-American born and raised in Dallas, Texas. I graduated from Texas A&M University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. My interests in medicine began during high school, where I spent two years observing clinical rotations and gained a handful of extraordinary experiences in the operating room. These early experiences initially pushed me towards becoming a physician. I volunteered at the Texas A&M Family Medicine Clinic as an undergraduate and worked as a medical scribe at a sleep medicine clinic for two years after graduating. While working as a medical scribe, I learned about the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession from a family anesthesiologist, and shortly thereafter discovered the MSA Program at Case Western Reserve University. After shadowing an anesthesiologist at the local Baylor Scott & White Heart Hospital, I knew I had found my match: a career that mixes patient care and anesthesia in an operating room environment with a great work-life balance. I am more than excited to start my education at CWRU and am humbled by the opportunity to train within Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center.


Gurpreet Kaur | Cleveland

I discovered the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession through a family member who mentioned seeing a friend add the CWRU MSA Program to his social media. I immediately did some research and went in for a shadowing experience. The vital role that certified anesthesiologist assistants play in creating each patient’s anesthetic care plan while also being exposed to a variety of medical cases daily caught my attention. I appreciated the power they have in the operating room as well as the work-life balance the profession allows. After graduating, I was still not confident about my career plans, so I took time off before furthering my education. I became a clinical research coordinator at Cleveland Clinic Foundation and also continued to run a humanitarian relief organization my friend and I had established in 2015. I knew then I wanted a career in medicine that would allow me to provide pivotal care to patients while also having time to continue with our non-profit. I remembered my shadowing experience with a CAA and went back to shadow once more. I realized that this is the ideal profession for me, and I am thrilled to be a part of CWRU MSA Class of 2021.


Olivia Kehoe | Cleveland

I was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biology with a concentration in Psychology from North Carolina State University. I have always been drawn to healthcare and originally thought I wanted to be a doctor after volunteering at Levine Children’s Hospital for three years in high school. Everything changed when I received an email from NC State’s Pre-Health Club detailing the CWRU MSA Program and the career path of a certified anesthesiologist assistant. The work-life balance in this career immediately appealed to me, and I focused on becoming a CAA from that point forward. I shadowed two anesthesiologists in Charlotte and fell in love with the environment of the operating room. I was later given the opportunity to shadow a CAA at University Hospital. This experience confirmed everything I had researched about Case Western Reserve University, and I pictured myself in their shoes a few years from now. I was drawn to the sense of community that CWRU fosters, and I am proud to be a part of this program.


Mehik Khawaja | Houston

I was born in Dallas, Texas and then raised in six different countries. My passion for healthcare and for science stemmed from my travelling experiences as a child. Since I was always on the move, I searched for similarities between cultures. The one place where I could always find universality was in scientific concepts and the need for good healthcare. Thus, I was drawn to learning all I could about science in order to use it to contribute to healthcare. I completed my bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and Chemistry at the University of Toronto. My undergraduate studies and travelling experiences molded me into an analytical, curious, compassionate, and highly adaptable individual. Initially, I was interested in medical school. However, after graduating I realized that I needed a career where I could achieve a greater work-life balance while still being involved in healthcare. When I learned about the CWRU MSA Program, I felt that it was the perfect fit for me.


Alexandra Kwit | Cleveland

My path to embarking on my educational journey as a certified anesthesiologist assistant emerged at a time when I was struggling to find a profession that would fulfill my personal and professional goals. I graduated from John Carroll University with a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry, and from there went on to medical school. I was pursuing both a medical and business degree. While completing my MBA on hiatus from medical school, I began to reflect on my experience as a medical student and the future that was ahead of me. Ultimately, becoming a physician could not offer the balance between professional and personal aspirations that I was looking for. As I vigorously researched different careers and took a slew of personality tests to see where my professional compatibility fell, one career always stood out among the rest: certified anesthesiologist assistants. With the challenges, diversity, and opportunities this profession brings, I finally feel like I have found the balance I have long sought in a field that will allow me to bring everything I learned together in the most meaningful and fitting way.


Lance Lagunzad | Houston

From a young age, I knew that my calling would be within the field of medicine. I graduated in 2017 from the University of Cincinnati, with my bachelor’s degree in Allied Health Sciences with a focus in physiological sciences on a premedical track. After graduation, I was lucky enough to go through two service years with Americorps, where I worked with high school students to teach them about different aspects of healthcare with the hope of inspiring a career in healthcare. Growing up, I thought that I would just become a doctor. It wasn’t until I had my shadowing experiences that I realized I had reservations. While getting my applications ready for medical school, I received an email regarding the CWRU MSA Program. After reading the email, I realized that it checked all my boxes for what I wanted out of a profession. I decided to shadow a certified anesthesiologist assistant, and immediately knew that it was what I wanted to do with my life. I am excited that I will be able to relieve high stress situations for patients while being able to live a full life with my family. As an Ohioan, I recognize CWRU as a distinguished program known for putting out top-notch students who excel in their profession. I’m beyond excited to join the CWRU MSA team.


Richard Lenz | Cleveland

My name is Richard Lenz, and I graduated from the University of Iowa with bachelor’s degrees in Human Physiology and Medical Informatics. I was determined to go into the medical field, but I wasn’t quite sure which direction I wanted to head. I shadowed many different medical professionals in many different fields of medicine, and I found myself most interested in becoming a certified anesthesiologist assistant. Performing many hands-on procedures to provide anesthetic care during a wide variety of cases is what really sparked my interest in the field. I am thrilled to start my journey at Case Western Reserve University because of the prestige of the university and just how quickly we are able to get in the operating room to apply our course work to direct clinical experiences.


Austin Levi | Washington, D.C.

After two years of playing professional hockey, I was facing a fork in the road: continue on the path I was on or change my course entirely and complete my undergraduate degree. I chose to study Biology at the University of Prince Edward Island under a hockey scholarship. In my final year, I completed an honors thesis in Biomedical Research that allowed me to grow as a scientist, and provided a stepping stone to explore career options in medicine. As I learned about the work of certified anesthesiologist assistants and shadowed in the operating room , my path became clear. On top of providing a great work-life balance, this profession is predicated on collaboration, expertise, and composure. The lessons I have learned throughout my hockey career together with my interest in medicine have confirmed that the CWRU MSA Program is the perfect fit. I know that being part of an anesthesia care team will allow me to live the life I envision—a life in which my team and I are able to help others in their time of need.


Benjamin Lippitt | Cleveland

Throughout my life I have lived only in one state: Rhode Island, where there are beaches, pine groves, small town folks, and big time thinkers. I had never really considered leaving, which is why I attended the University of Rhode Island for my undergraduate studies. There, I earned a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology with a premedical focus. I grew up with a great interest in the biological sciences, fitness, wellness, and medicine. My hobbies include hiking and a love for the outdoors, fitness, snowboarding, and cooking. I have always been geared toward helping others and making an impact on the lives of those less fortunate. After college, I worked as an aide in an orthopedic clinic, medical assistant at an urgent care, medical technician in the emergency department, and an EMT on a private ambulance. These experiences have opened doors for me and have introduced me to the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession, through which I discovered Case Western Reserve University. From the moment I read about the CWRU MSA Program, I knew this was something that I wanted to pursue because it is the culmination of all my passions. Being a CAA will provide the greatest satisfaction to me because I’ll be part of the team that produces long-lasting trust within the patients who put their lives in my hands.


David Lovelace | Houston

I am originally from Wichita Falls, Texas. I currently live in College Station, and have worked at Central Texas Sports Medicine the past couple years. I have thoroughly enjoyed by time there, but found myself intrigued by anesthesia and became interested in pursuing a career as a certified anesthesiologist assistant. I am excited to get started at Case Western Reserve University.


Christopher Lysyj | Cleveland

I have lived in Ohio my entire life, and Cleveland has always been my home. I realized back in high school that I was meant to work in the medical sciences. When it came time to declare my undergraduate major at The Ohio State University, I chose biology and designated a premedical academic path. Early in my sophomore year, I learned about the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession and the CWRU MSA Program. It seemed like a perfect fit for me. I shadowed several times at CWRU, and I became convinced that I needed to be part of this program. I view anesthesia as an art form, and I feel drawn to this profession as a personal calling. I am proud to be a student here as CWRU is the nation’s premier educator of anesthetists. I am looking forward to learning alongside exceptionally talented and compassionate individuals. I believe that I will be deeply fulfilled working in the medical field in this capacity, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve and care for the people of my hometown and beyond.


Maureen Madar | Cleveland

I was born in Cleveland, Ohio and raised just outside of the city in the suburb of Hudson, Ohio. As an undergraduate student I earned my bachelor’s degree in Biology at Denison University, where I was also captain of the varsity women’s golf team. My undergraduate research in both cancer biology and developmental biology confirmed that I wanted to pursue a career in medicine, but I was also looking for a healthy work-life balance. Fortunately, I was introduced to two certified anesthesiologist assistants, both CWRU MSA alumni, who have served as great mentors in guiding my path toward this profession. Since the first time that I shadowed a CAA, I have been hooked on the excitement of being part of the anesthesia care team. I look forward to returning to my hometown of Cleveland to earn my Master of Science in Anesthesia.


Niharika Mamillapalli | Washington, D.C.

I spent most of my life in New Jersey, and attended the College of New Jersey where I majored in Biology and minored in Public Health. From a young age, my interest in the sciences grew stronger and I was both curious and excited to learn, especially about medicine. I volunteered as an EMT, taught classes as a CPR Instructor, and explored different healthcare professions through shadowing. Being exposed to people struggling with chronic diseases like my grandfather and acute traumas like patients on the ambulance, I have developed a persistent fascination with the human body and a devotion to helping others. After learning about the CWRU MSA Program, I spoke with several MSA students and practicing certified anesthesiologist assistants. They all conveyed to me their enthusiasm for the program and spoke highly of their work in the operating room. After much research, I shadowed an anesthesiologist at RWJ University Hospital and observed the complexities of delivering anesthesia and keeping a patient stable for surgery. I quickly became intrigued by the importance of a CAA’s role and felt that this healthcare profession was fitting for me as I like working as part of a team in a dynamic environment.


Andrew McCray | Cleveland

While born in Oceanside, California, I spent the majority of my life growing up in Toledo, Ohio. I moved to Cleveland in 2013 to attend John Carroll University where I earned a bachelor's degree in Cell and Molecular Biology. While at JCU, I became a certified Emergency Medical Technician and worked as an EMT serving the John Carroll community for three years. After graduating from JCU in 2017, I was hired at the Cleveland Clinic as a Research Tech in Dr.Selva Baltan’s lab where we investigated novel therapies to aid in the protection and recovery of white matter after ischemic stroke. While my curiosity and love for science suited me well for research, I have always felt called to serve others in a more critical and direct way. I was introduced to the MSA program at Case Western through a close friend and role model. After shadowing several anesthetists, it became apparent that as an Anesthesiologist Assistant I could best leverage my skills and experience to fulfill my calling and reach my highest potential. P


Andrew Midgley | Cleveland

I was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio. I graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and earned a minor in Biological Sciences in 2018. Anesthesia was never my dream growing up, but as I went through college, I quickly learned that it was what I wanted to make my career. I had a lot of questions about myself throughout the years leading up to my admittance into the CWRU MSA Program, but I can say with certainty that this was the right choice for me. I hope to one day look back on my time spent at CWRU, and know that I wouldn’t have wanted to do this in any other place.


Tyler Moses | Washington, D.C.

I was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, where I received a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Uncertain of what career path was right for me, I decided to take a gap year (or two) following my graduation to find my passion. I ended up working as an anesthesia technician and quickly became enamored by the physiology of anesthesia. Once I got a taste of the stimulating environment inside an operating room, I knew a career in anesthesia was a perfect fit for me. In talking with certified anesthesiologist assistants at the hospital, it quickly became clear the CWRU MSA Program had a reputation for preparing students to be competent and compassionate practitioners. I'm very excited for the opportunity to be a CWRU graduate, and to have a profession where I can care for people at one of the most vulnerable times of their lives.


Nathaniel Myers | Cleveland

I was raised in the small town of Clarksville, Ohio. I have always been fascinated with human biology and have a passion for helping others, so I was naturally drawn to the healthcare field. I graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a bachelor’s degree and began working in the operating room at the Christ Hospital. While working in the operating room, I had the opportunity to interact with members of the anesthesia team and learned about the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession. This led me to seek out job shadowing opportunities as well as further my research into the profession. I was excited to learn about the CWRU MSA Program, and, after looking at the clinically-oriented didactic curriculum, I knew that CWRU was the only choice for me.


Fidelis Nanga | Cleveland

Originally from Cameroon, I emigrated to the US and studied Chemistry at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. I had decided to go to pharmacy school until a conversation with the college health professions counselor drew my attention to the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession. I took an immediate liking to the CAA profession. In a bid to improve my understanding of the anesthetist profession, I secured an internship at a pain clinic in Macon, Georgia. During my time at the clinic, I observed the anesthesiologists and CAAs as they performed dozens of regional anesthesia operations on patients. Becoming a physician demands a lot in terms of time and cost. The MSA Program is a perfect solution to the time and cost constraints of obtaining a medical education. The advantages of the training as CAA extend to the work-life balance the practitioner gets compared to related healthcare providers. I am also grateful I have been provided an opportunity to get to learn a little bit more about the human physiology. My hope is that after this training, I will be able to contribute towards helping patients regain their health.


Dominic Ng | Cleveland

My undergraduate degree was in Civil Engineering. After graduation, I worked in petroleum engineering and management for thirteen years. I relocated seven times between four different countries during my career. I had the opportunity to meet a lot of cool people, and learned a lot about their cultures. The nature of the oilfield is pretty much a 24/7 lifestyle. After I had my own family and two little girls, we decided it would be great to have more stability so that my kids could grow up with their friends and for me to have more time to spend with my family. I began to look for a career change. I enjoy technical work and working with people. At first, I wanted to pursue a career in medicine so that I could have more direct impact on people. I returned to school to do a master’s degree in Medical Physiology. However, after shadowing and working with many physicians on research projects, I knew that their lifestyle was not a good fit for me. Luckily, I attended the MSA Program’s open house and shadowed a few certified anesthesiologist assistants at University Hospitals. That experience opened my eyes to a whole new career possibility that offered me technical challenges, hands-on procedural work, and the opportunity to work directly to help people. Combined with the work-life balance and the relatively short training program, I realized that this was exactly what I had been looking for. The people in the CWRU MSA Program that I have met during shadowing and interviews are extremely nice and helpful. Knowing that CWRU MSA is one of the most respected programs, I am grateful that I can be part of the team.


An Nguyen | Cleveland

I was born and raised in Da Nang, Vietnam, and later moved to New Jersey when I was fifteen years old in pursuit of a better education. In 2018, I graduated from Rutgers University with a bachelor’s degree in Cell Biology and Neuroscience. Growing up in an engineering family, I never dreamed of entering the medical field. Yet, my academic interests during undergrad led me to have interests in the pharmaceutical and medical field. During the second summer of college, I was accepted into a medical mentoring program at a local hospital. For a month, I was able to shadow physicians in different departments and observe different medical procedures, during which I was able to observe the administration of general anesthesia. During a break, I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with the anesthesiologist, and finally discovered the field that brought together my medical and pharmaceutical interests. I decided to do extensive research on the field and, by some luck, discovered the CWRU MSA Program on an online forum. After that, I was able to shadow a certified anesthesiologist assistant and learn more about the career opportunities and benefits as well as the anesthesia care team model. Seeing firsthand the complexity of the work, the drugs involved, and the evolution of the field through technology has only solidified my decision to follow this path. I believe my previous education, dedication, and enthusiasm will help me become an excellent CAA.


Justin Nguyen | Houston

I was born in Houston, Texas, and raised in Austin, Texas. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Biology from Concordia University Texas. I have always been drawn to the medical field, but my desire was amplified after my youngest brother was born with Down syndrome. Upon graduating, I was hired by the Developmental Therapeutics Lab, an inaugural research facility of the LiveSTRONG Cancer Institutes at Dell Medical School. After becoming specialized in animal anesthesia for our lab, I was urged to look into becoming a certified anesthesiologist assistant. After delving into the profession and shadowing a CAA, I was hooked. I am very honored to be able to take part in the first program’s Austin cohort, and look forward to working with the cohort to build a strong presence in the state capital.


Brian Nguyen | Washington, D.C.

I currently live in the Seattle area in Washington State, but was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. I moved up to the Bay Area and spent three years studying at University of California, Berkeley to earn my bachelor’s degree in Metabolic Biology and Nutritional Sciences while engaging in research at UCSF, UCSF Benioff, UC Berkeley, and Stanford School of Medicine. I’ve spent many years shadowing and searching for a hands-on career in medicine that would compliment my lifestyle, and was very fortunate to discover a career as a certified anesthesiologist assistant. Being an anesthetist allows me to apply my passions in physiology, metabolism, and pharmacology to care for patients perioperatively while still maintaining an amazing work-life balance. Anesthesia is such a fascinating specialty in that you could provide critical care and pain relief to patients in a broad spectrum of cases, including pediatrics, trauma, cardiac, obstetrics, and neurology. This makes practicing as a CAA a challenging, but very intellectually and emotionally stimulating career. I specifically chose the CWRU MSA Program’s Washington, D.C. location so that I can be more engaged with legislation and advocacy in healthcare while also having the opportunity to travel and serve disadvantaged communities through international medical missions.


Sergio Ottaviano | Washington, D.C.

I grew up in the small town of Nazareth, Pennsylvania and attended the University of Pittsburgh, where I majored in Neuroscience and minored in Chemistry. After I graduated, I joined a lab that focused on motor learning in non-human primates. Knowing that I eventually wanted to transition from research to the medical field, I came across the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession. I instantly knew this was the path I was meant to follow. I always had a special curiosity surrounding the brain and consciousness, and the field of anesthesia is just the other side of the same coin. That interest in the conceptual basis of anesthesia paired with the practical aspects of the field—working in a team, being in the operating room, and patient care—drove me pursue a career as a CAA.


Nikita Patel | Washington, D.C.

I was born in New York, but raised in Florida for almost all of my life. My love for chemistry in high school translated into a chemistry major once I came to the University of Florida. I sought a career that could incorporate both my passion for both chemistry and healthcare. I had planned to go to medical school for many years, although I continually sought alternative careers because I was not completely committed to the idea of being a doctor. Once I found out about the CWRU MSA Program, I immediately knew it was the career I had been searching for all this time. After shadowing a certified anesthesiologist assistant, I realized that this profession allowed me to fulfill both my desire to work in healthcare and continue my interest in chemistry through pharmacology. I set my sights on the CWRU MSA Program because I believed it would challenge me the most and because their location in Washington will allowed me to be closer to my family.


Diamond Powell | Houston

After living across the Deep South as the child of a now-retired United States Air Force veteran, I spent the remainder of my emerging adulthood in the South Suburbs of Chicago. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Community Health at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. I then went on to complete a post-baccalaureate program at Dominican University where I earned a bachelor’s of Medical Science. Medicine has always been my passion and with countless applications to medical school, I decided to explore all of the healthcare career options available. I discovered the CWRU MSA Program through a simple Google search, and was amazed that none of my premedical advisors had ever mentioned the profession. Thus, I was eager to learn more! My first experience shadowing a certified anesthesiologist assistant demonstrated how my love for science, service, and skill could be utilized in this field. I knew that with my education and background, I had chosen the perfect profession to pursue.


Laura Reedy | Houston

I graduated from The University of Louisville with a bachelor’s degree in Communication, planning to fulfill my lifelong dream of attending law school. While working in the legal field as a paralegal, however, I was inspired by the patient stories and medical marvels I encountered working on medical malpractice and workers’ compensation cases. I decided to make a career change to medicine. I entered the premedical post-baccalaureate program at LaSalle University intending to apply to medical school and pursue a career as an anesthesiologist. However, my career in medicine was placed on hold, and it wasn’t until I was living in Atlanta in 2013 that I took steps to enter the field of anesthesiology. I applied to Emory University’s MSA Program but, while being considered for admission, my husband’s job took us to Cincinnati, Ohio. Waiting for the right opportunity to pursue my dream, I worked at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, helping to further the future of medicine through writing, reviewing, administering, and awarding grants. Having long awaited the incredible opportunity to enter the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession, I am especially honored and excited to be a part of the CWRU MSA Program. I cannot wait to work as a CAA and be part of a noble profession that affords the unique opportunity to connect with patients when they need it most and bring them relief through ever-changing and improving anesthetics.


Stuart Reynolds | Houston

I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. My medical interest started with the influence of my surgical professional parents and my own curiosity of how the human mind works. After high school, I began taking introductory classes with a focus in psychology at Cuyahoga Community College. I started working at Southwest General Health Center as an operating room equipment technician, setting up and managing the medical equipment used for specific surgical cases. While working in surgery I developed a great network with many different professionals in the perioperative services, and I was able to explore every option available in the field. My interest with how the mind works eventually turned into a fascination with the complexity of the entire human body. After considering my options, anesthesia was the best fit for my aspirations. I started working as an anesthesia aide at the same hospital, engaging with the different anesthesia professionals, including many CWRU MSA alumni and students. I decided that the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession was the right fit for fulfilling my passion and knew that the CWRU MSA Program was how I wanted to achieve that goal. I completed my undergrad at Cleveland State University, where I earned my bachelor’s degree in Biology. The combination of my work experience and my undergraduate courses solidified my decision to become a CAA at Case Western Reserve University.


Daniella Rice | Cleveland

I graduated from John Carroll University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. I have been interested in anesthesia from the time I had my first surgery at the age of twelve. As many others I’m sure, my initial direction was medical school. After having shadowed a few anesthesiologists, I was introduced to the world of certified anesthesiologist assistants who always expressed to me the love they have for their job. I did some research, and eventually peruse my passion of science and anesthesia. I am honored to be in the CWRU MSA Program and am humbled to become a part of something even bigger—the anesthesia care team.


Alan Rivera | Houston

I graduated from Texas Tech University in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. I was on a premedical track, and began working in a hospital after graduation. I was there for four years, and was eventually promoted to an anesthesia tech position in the operating room and immediately fell in love with the field. One of the residents told me about certified anesthesiologist assistants and I decided to do some research because medical school wasn’t working out. After looking into the career, my wife and I decided that it was the perfect fit for our family. This career will allow me to be with and enjoy my family more ,which is very important to me and something I would have greatly missed out on being a physician. I took the few classes that I needed while applying and was honored to be accepted to the CWRU MSA Program in Houston as well as being chosen to be doing my first year clinicals in Round Rock. My years as an anesthesia tech gave me a great foundation of knowledge and experience for this program, and the anesthesia team that I worked with mentored and encouraged me. I look forward to contributing to the betterment of this great field both during and after this program.


Patrick Rooney | Houston

I majored in Cell and Molecular Biology at Towson University, and graduated in 2017. At the beginning of my undergraduate career, I was not interested in much besides sports until I took my first biology course and it made me realize how much I love learning about the innerworkings of the body. From then I knew I wanted to be involved in medicine and be challenged in the process, which is the reason why I chose to chase a career in anesthesia. I decided to attend the CWRU MSA Program because I wanted to receive my education from the best, and I want to be the best version of myself for my patients and the experience CWRU grants its students is second to none. Being that CWRU trains you to be the best certified anesthesiologist assistant possible, it allows me to achieve my goals of helping others and keeping others safe when they are incapacitated. Choosing this path allows me to witness numerous operations pertaining to different fields of medicine, thus also fulfilling my desire to learn as much as I can about human anatomy and physiology—and to help others in the process.


George Scaravelli | Cleveland

I’ve always known that a career in the sciences would marry my love for humanity, my love for art, and my innate mechanical skills. I entered into my undergraduate program at Loyola of Chicago as an aspiring physician, but realized I was not yet prepared and committed to the long path of medical school and residency. I explored multiple career arenas: I worked in an advertising agency for five years and afterwards as an administrator at a NYC LGBTQ community health center. I came full circle, again considering a career as a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant. After completing a prehealth post-baccalaureate program and taking the MCAT, I planned to apply for medical school. I had many conversations and shadowing experiences with PAs, NPs, DOs, and MDs, along the way, but I was not convinced that becoming a physician would be the right fit for my long-term medical career. Then I learned of the certified anesthesiologist assistant career path, and it was the perfect fit. Becoming a CAA would hone my love for science, my skills in math and mechanics, and my desire to support individuals in times of need and stress—all while providing a long-term, secure, and happy career. I can’t be more positive that CWRU is the perfect institution to develop my foundation of anesthesia knowledge and build a community of lifelong partners as a future anesthetist.


Adria Shelley | Washington, D.C.

I just graduated from Marquette University with a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences. I am excited to see how well my undergraduate classes prepared me for life as a CWRU MSA graduate student. My experience at Marquette was unique in that the Biomedical Sciences major is specifically tailored to students heading into a pre-health field, and all classes that are taken are directly related to your future career path. I have taken in-depth classes that most people don’t see until graduate school or medical school such as pharmacology and health-based medical genetics. I can’t wait to gain knowledge from classes and clinicals every single day. I am most excited about being a certified anesthesiologist assistants because of the excitement that comes with being in an operating room every single day.


Ruqi Shi | Cleveland

I graduated from Case Western Reserve University in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. When I was a kid, I underwent two different surgeries, and that experience made me curious about medicine. I thought I wanted to be a researcher until I had a chance to shadow a certified anesthesiologist assistant at University Hospital in the beginning of my sophomore year. The day I shadowed totally changed my life, and I have been dedicated to pursuing this profession ever since. Thanks to the admission faculty, I had all my questions regarding the program as well as this profession answered. Their open house events were helpful too, which also confirmed my desire to apply to the CWRU MSA Program. Being a CWRU alumni, I look forward to coming back to campus for my training as a certified anesthesiologist assistant. Though it will be challenging, I know that I will love it just as much as I loved my undergraduate experience.


Shane Smart | Houston

Though I was born in Ireland, I was raised most of my life in Central Florida. From a young age, my parents motivated me to strive for academic and professional success. It was their dream of a life filled with opportunity in the United States that developed my hard-working mentality. Science and physiology has always been fascinating to me. For as long as I can remember, healthcare seemed the most appealing career choice. The application of treatment rooted in reasoning and experimentation seems to attract both my curiosity and altruistic traits. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Central Florida. My time there was divided between academia, work, different departmental research, teaching assisting, and other voluntary activities. I spent the year after graduation in the clinical field working as an EMT at Advent Health in Orlando, Florida. As an EMT, I have had tangible experience providing patient care, and handling cases that ranged from basic to critically acute. I have recognized that anesthesia and emergency pre-hospital medicine share many characteristics in common. Both fields exercise similar approaches to patient and procedural care; critical thinking; cooperation and communication; and anticipatory decision-making. The CWRU MSA Program will open a career filled with new frontiers of clinical activity to me. More importantly, working in anesthesia will give me the opportunity to care for individuals as they overcome some of the most emotional and physically demanding times of their lives.


Chloe Starr | Washington, D.C.

When I was five, I was diagnosed with a rash exhibiting a resemblance of vasculitis called Henoch-Schlonein Purpura (HSP) by a dermatologist in Stuttgart, Germany. This event began my long love for physiology, cellular biology, and pathology. I was fortunate to move my sophomore year of high school to Arlington, Virginia and later attended Virginia Tech. I earned a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences and found myself involved in research. Due to this, upon graduation, I began my internship with Emergent Biosolutions, where I further cultivated my love for pathology, pharmacology, and toxicology. To remain in the vein of clinical practice, I shadowed a variety of physicians and worked as a medical assistant at a dermatology office. My work in the medical field led me down the path to becoming a certified anesthesiologist assistant—a career that perfectly combines my love for the clinical practice of medicine with a deeper root in toxicology and pharmacology.


Amanda Stookey | Houston

I was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio. I attended Notre Dame College located in South Euclid, Ohio, where I majored in Biology and minored in Philosophy. I spent more than ten years playing volleyball, including at the collegiate level. Coming from a team sports background, I knew that I was the type of person who enjoyed being around and working together with others. During my junior year of college, I shadowed a certified anesthesiologist assistant, and found that this profession and working in the operating room was the perfect combination of my passion for science, healthcare, and teamwork. I knew a career as a CAA was the right fit for me.


Xiumei Sun | Washington, D.C.

I was trained as a medical personal in a foreign country and have acquired a wide range of transferable skills as a clinical and biomedical researcher in the United States. My path in clinical anesthesiology was sparked by a conversation with an anesthesia professor during my internship. After many years of experience in different medical positions, I realized that my happiest moments in my career involved seeing patients rescued from life-threatening situations. After being encouraged to continue my anesthesia path by both family and friends, I found that going back to school was a character-defining time in my life, causing me to face many challenges as a non-traditional student. I feel extremely fortunate to be supported by the faculty and staff of the CWRU MSA Program.


Riley Thompson | Washington, D.C.

I was born and raised in Chardon, Ohio, and I have earned my bachelor’s degree in Biology. After a few unfortunate injuries in sports during my high school years, my interest was steered towards the medical field. Originally, I was interested in orthopedic surgery, but my mind was quickly changed when I shadowed a friend’s dad who was an anesthesiologist to watch a few surgeries. I came to be extremely interested in anesthesia after this, and shadowed him on multiple occasions afterwards. After taking the MCAT, I stumbled across the CWRU MSA Program and I found it to be a solid fit. This profession allows me to use my knowledge and skills in biology and chemistry. I am looking forward to being in a stimulating environment, while also gaining rewarding experiences every day at my job.


Christy To | Washington, D.C.

I was raised in Atlanta, Georgia, and I obtained both my bachelor’s degree in Biology and master’s degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology and Physiology from Georgia State University. During my years as a graduate student, I completed research on bioreactors and volunteered at Grady Hospital and Kindred Hospice. My volunteering experiences allowed me to learn one thing about myself: I love patients and would like nothing more than to spend my days dedicating my time and energy toward helping patients. I then shadowed a CRNA and fell in love with the profession right away. The anesthesia field is dynamic and will allow me to impact patients’ lives in a direct and crucial way. With the knowledge that I gain from CWRU, I’ll no longer have to stand on the sidelines as a volunteer, but I’ll be a key player in helping patients on their journey toward wellness.


Kimberly Tran | Houston

Growing up, everyone around me always had high hopes that I would become a doctor. After years and years of hearing it, I started to believe it. I became a Biology major and followed the premedical route in hopes that I could make them proud of me. After volunteering and shadowing, I knew that I wanted a career in medicine, but was not sure if becoming a physician was right for me. After hearing about the CWRU MSA Program through the students that gave a presentation and hosted an intubation clinic with my premedical organization, I knew I had to apply. The way the students described the program and career, I knew that it was exactly what I was looking for. When I shadowed a certified anesthesiologist assistant, I was able to meet some of the AA students doing their clinicals. Knowing that the students of the program develop close relationships makes me excited to be part of something that is more than just a means to an end.


Truc-Anh | Houston

I was born in Jonkoping, Sweden, and moved to Denver, Colorado when I was young. I graduated from the University of Colorado-Denver with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. I worked in a research lab that specializes in nanotechnology and drug delivery. My research required us to be able to understand interactions between drugs and the human body. This piqued my interest in anesthesiology and in becoming an anesthesiologist assistant. I was able to shadow a certified anesthesiologist assistant at the Swedish Medical Center in Denver. In the operating room, the CAA had to constantly monitor the physiological conditions of the patients and extrapolate what was happening to the patient to determine how much and which drugs to use in order to maintain homeostasis. This was fascinating and exciting for me, and made me want to continue to learn more about the program and pursue the profession.


Lubomyr Vantsa | Cleveland

I was born in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine. My father was a psychiatrist and my mother was a teacher. My parents, my sister, and I immigrated to the United States in 1997. I attended Padua Franciscan High School and was a part of the founding class of the MedTrack program. My family’s background in medicine had always influenced me. In addition to my father’s work as a psychiatrist, my uncles both work in the medical field as a surgeon and a dentist. MedTrack helped solidify my interest in science and medicine. I attended John Carroll University with plans to enter into the medical field when I graduated. I received my bachelor’s degree in Biology. However, while at JCU, I discovered the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession and deduced that was where my future would be.


Courtney Weisbart | Houston

I am a Texas native, born and raised in Dallas. I attended Texas A&M University in College Station. During my time at A&M, I was a student athlete on the equestrian team. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science. I have always been particularly interested in the medical sciences and enjoyed studying subjects such as biology and physiology during undergrad. While I considered the possibilities of attending medical or dental school, I was convinced that either profession quite fit my personal and professional goals. My sister was the one to first introduce me to the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession. After shadowing a CAA, I knew this was the profession for me. I love that a career as a CAA will allow me to fulfill a crucial role as part of the anesthesia care team and, at the same time, maintain a work-life balance. I was attracted to the CWRU MSA Program for several reasons, including its hands-on approach and partnership with Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. I am so excited and honored to join the CWRU MSA Class of 2021!


Haotian Wu | Houston

Originally from China, I grew up along the Texas Gulf Coast before attending The University of Texas in Austin to complete my bachelor’s degree in Biology. A passion for medicine has always guided my academic decision-making, from electives in high school to university courses and beyond. However, my previous shadowing and research experiences have steered my interests away from generalized medicine towards more specialized practices. While attending university, I was introduced to the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession, but was continuing my studies as a premedical student at that time. As I got older, family and personal health became more important, and I realized that these were things that I wanted to be able to actively maintain alongside my career. I found that the work of a certified anesthesiologist assistant combined the precision and team-based healthcare structure with the opportunity to develop a healthier work-life balance, which was very appealing to me. The impactful role that CAAs play in the larger anesthesia team caring for a patient’s perioperative health is something that I very much admire, too. I am grateful to be a part of CWRU MSA Program not only for the education, but the future opportunities it may provide as well.


Nathan Zack | Washington, D.C.

I was born and raised in Whitehall, Michigan and graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in Human Biology in 2015. When I was young, my mother had cancer, and I decided I was going to cure it! That is what peaked my interest in medicine. As I began college, anesthesia had me hooked, but my goal was always medical school. When I got closer to graduating and applying for medical school, I came to learn about the CWRU MSA Program. This past year, I worked at Hackley Hospital in Muskegon as a CNA. My experience taught me a great amount in patient care and comfort. Surgery can be an unsettling time for patients. Thus, one of my main goals is to ensure that my patients are comfortable pre- and post-surgery. I am extremely grateful to be a part of such a prestigious program at CWRU. I am determined to put forth the effort to honor the profession while working closely with colleagues to enhance the patient experience.


Paya Zadeh | Houston

Born in Dallas, yet raised in Iran for most of my formative years, I had the privilege of being part of two vastly different, yet very complimentary cultures. As an Iranian who returned to the United States, all by himself, at the age of seventeen, I knew that I had embarked on a path of exploration riddled with challenges and surprises. Self-driven and motivated more than ever, I continued my studies while working simultaneously. I soon received admission to University of California, Los Angeles and earned my bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience. My endless curiosity for science as well as genuine desire to help others drew me towards medicine. I continued my clinical and research interests while obtaining a position in clinical research at the world-renowned Cedars-Sinai Interventional Cardiology Department. After a shift in the operating room during my EMT training, observing a Chief Orthopedic Surgeon at UCLA, and shadowing the attending anesthesiologist during cardiology procedures, I knew my place was in the operating room. I was captivated by the organization, collaboration, and detailed attention to the task at hand. Upon further research, I came across a career in anesthesia as a certified anesthesiologist assistant. Subsequently, I contacted the CWRU MSA Program and pursued a shadowing opportunity. I was immensely impressed with the knowledge, the hands-on skills, and the proactive role of the CAA. The CAA serves as the trusted companion of the patients during one of their most vulnerable times, their surgical journey, easing their path through it. Growing up in two diverse cultural contexts equipped me with the much needed understanding for culturally competent care in healthcare field. I am more than excited to start a career as a certified anesthesiologist assistant, as it unites my fascination with science and passion for serving others while providing a medium for direct patient contact to practice what is true art and science of anesthesia.


Stephanie Zunini | Washington, D.C.

I am a fifth generation Northern Nevadan, born and raised in Reno, “The Biggest Little City in the World.” I graduated from the University of Nevada with a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in May 2019. I thought for the longest time that I wanted to be a labor and delivery nurse like my mom until I spent some time shadowing my brother-in-law, who is an anesthesiologist. I owe it to him for my discovery of and initial interest in anesthesia. I was instantly drawn to the daily excitement, and the fact that no two cases would ever be the same. I knew I would love having new challenges to prevent boredom in my career. I later learned of the MSA Program, and decided that the work-life balance that the program had to offer was a perfect fit for what I had in mind for my future. I was thrilled to learn of my acceptance to the CWRU MSA Program in Washington! I am looking forward to being a part of a profession that is on the cutting edge of medicine.